Wolves’ Liverpool showdown must give players taste for the big occasion

On Saturday an army of 8,300 Wolves fans will head to Liverpool in a game that has captured the imagination of the supporters.

Wanderers could have easily sold 3, maybe 4, times as many in one of English football’s most attractive and historic fixtures.

But while the build up of the game will talk largely of the magic of the cup, the battle of ex Borussia Dortmund favourites Paul Lambert and Jurgen Klopp and the odd mention of a certain Stephen Ward winner, what must not be forgotten is this is the first flavour of ‘the big time’ for our club since 2012.

Five years is a long time in football and believe it or not it was 5 years Wolves were outside the top flight before they returned as champions under Mick McCarthy.

The speed and demand at which Wolves sold those tickets (in 2 and a half days) tells us the fans still have that passion to make Wolves versus Liverpool a more regular fixture.

Win, lose or draw there has to be one thing Wolves come away from the game with – the hunger of testing themselves against the best.

Garry Monk over at Leeds United challenged his team ahead of their EFL Cup quarter final against the Reds to not fear the occasion and set a standard they must aspire to.

Since their 2-0 loss at Anfield, Leeds have been one of the form teams in the Championship winning 9 of their last 11 games and are one of the favourites to return to the Premier League.

The bare minimum for Wolves is to go to Anfield, do themselves proud, show those thousands of fans in Anfield Road End (and the tens of thousands watching at home) that they want success and that they belong among England’s elite in the near future.

For a good while now any hopes of Wolves threatening to walk out at Molineux next season to play Premier League football have evaporated so this season has to be seen as building for next year.

To go into next season with any hope and confidence, we have to finish this term with a spring in our step.

First and foremost we still require 8 wins that will takes us beyond 50 points and to safety in the Championship, next Lambert needs to implement his style of play to avoid a slow start to the season that has blighted our club for the last three campaigns.

Third and just as important, Lambert has to keep the fans interested. While we’re not going to go on a record-breaking end of season run, high profile victories against Stoke City, Aston Villa, and who knows Liverpool will whet the appetite for a more successful season next year.

The tie at Liverpool will show us a number of things; which players will wither under the pressure of Anfield, which players will be shown out of their depth against top players, but more importantly which players have the ability and passion to thrive on the highest profile of games.

So while we may leave Anfield without victory we will know at least who has the stomach and desire to lead us to a more frequent reunion with our Merseyside opponents.

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