Matt Doherty is a better option at wing back than Adama Traore for Wolves.
That’s the view of League Cup winner and regular summariser for BBC Radio WM, Mel Eves.
Doherty got the nod for the 4-0 win at FC Pyunik on Thursday night in the Europa League – and scored the opener – when Traore missed out because he forgot his passport, and for Sunday’s opening Premier League clash at Leicester.
Traore played in Doherty’s position when the Ireland international was injured for the two Europa ties against Crusaders and looked steady, setting up Diogo Jota for Wolves’ first goal in European competition for nearly 40 years. But Eves believes the pacy Spaniard has some way to go to match Doherty – because he knows the game better, which he believes is a key factor behind his excellent record of eight goals and eight assists last season.
“There were a lot of things Traore did well (against Crusaders), but there were a lot of things as a right wing back he needs to do better,” said Eves, 62. “I think he switches off sometimes when he hasn’t got the ball, whereas Matt Doherty doesn’t.
“He should also be in positions to score goals a lot better than he is. He doesn’t read the game as well. Matt Doherty doesn’t get the goals he gets by chance; he anticipates things and knows the game.
“Against Crusaders, there were two or three occasions when the ball came in from the left and Traore was still on the right touchline, as opposed to being at the far post to try to win a header, or at least 20 yards further in. That’s about reading the game better. When he gets the ball and instinctively attacks players, he’s a joy to watch – he can upset anybody really, however good they are, because he is that quick and he’s got ability.”
Eves reckons Traore needs to improve the defensive side of his game too if he is to seriously compete with Doherty for the right wing back role.
“It’s just about acquiring that knowledge of the game because he was at right wing back – which he’s not as used to – as opposed to further up the pitch,” said the former striker. “He’s probably getting used to that role, and for me, he hasn’t quite cracked it yet. He doesn’t quite understand the defensive side, and it doesn’t come naturally to him because he’s always been a forward.
“So he still needs to work at that, because there’s more to the role than just when he’s on the ball. Most fans will see him when he’s on the ball and they see how exciting he can be, taking people on for fun and putting crosses into the box. But it’s the other side of the game that he’s got to work on.”