The Wolves-supporting caretaker manager Steve Davis felt the fans’ pain during their 4-0 defeat against Leicester. Wolves dominated play and created a plethora of chances but never truly looked like scoring, to leave them with five goals in 12 games and an increasingly toxic atmosphere at Molineux.
There were chants of “We’re fucking shit” from the crowd after Youri Tielemans, Harvey Barnes and James Maddison had shown that scoring was possible, further proved by Jamie Vardy as Leicester secured their first points away from home this season to move them out of the bottom three.
Davis is, in theory, living his dream by managing his boyhood club but has taken the job at a tumultuous time. He would have preferred the injured trio Raúl Jiménez, Sasa Kalajdzic and Pedro Neto to have been available to give him a chance of succeeding but Premier League football is a reality, not a fairytale. He will stay in charge of the first-team until 2023, a reward that looks less appealing by the week.
“We are in a battle [to stay up],” Davis said. “It’s very early in the season but it has to change, we can’t be saying this beyond the World Cup. We need to be trying to get points and get out of the bottom three and give everybody some hope.”
When Vardy tapped home from close range in the 79th minute, it was only Leicester’s fourth shot of the match but also their fourth goal, while Wolves failed to find the back of the net from any of their 21 chances.
Asked if the fan criticism was merited, Davis said: “It is frustrating, losing 4-0 at home is horrible, an outcome which we don’t want to see. Very disappointed for them. I feel it myself; the pain of today was tough to take. We will stick together and try to put it right.”
A promising Wolves start was quashed when Maddison’s free‑kick from the left was headed partially clear by Jonny Otto – the man booked for the foul that led to the set piece – but straight to the waiting Tielemans who quickly worked out the angles and rifled the bouncing ball into the top corner.
The crowd are fully aware of Wolves’ record and their apprehension once they went behind was understandable. Things were exacerbated when Barnes and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall played a neat interchange inside the box, allowing the former to wander into space, aided by Jonny slipping, and slot the ball across José Sá into the bottom corner.
Wolves are reliant on their emergency signing Diego Costa for goals, a striker who had not played for nine months before joining on a free last month. Starting his third game in eight days, the 34-year-old’s fitness and form were being put under pressure. It is obvious what qualities he maintains from his peak: his clever feet and aggression are there but his inadequacies in the role outweighed the positives. Costa knows where he needs to be to reach passes but he does not have the speed of thought or foot to get there in time.
The rhythm of the game did not change after the break; Wolves dominated possession, spending much of their time in the final third. Rúben Neves curled a free-kick from the edge of the box half a yard wide and Costa headed a dangerous cross straight at Danny Ward, misses somehow compounded by Maddison and Vardy extending the lead.
There were calls from the home supporters for the removal of Wolves technical director, Scott Sellars. A failure to find a replacement for Bruno Lage and a paper-thin squad has brought disquiet at Molineux. It is understandable considering they are now level on points with the bottom club, Nottingham Forest, and the worst could still be to come.
Leicester have won 10 points in the past five games after picking up a solitary draw in their opening seven fixtures. “It was just about keeping the confidence with the players knowing the results would turn for us,” Brendan Rodgers said. “It is a very honest group that had a difficult start and it’s been a challenge. As a manager, when you are in the position we are in, you have to keep your composure, stay calm, coach the players and keep them confident, so we can get a consistent run of results.”