I’d like to open up a bit of good old fashioned debate here on EPL Talk concerning the recent exploits of one Mick McCarthy. Tuesday night at Old Trafford saw Manchester United draw level on points with league leaders Chelsea with a 3-0 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
You might be thinking, “that doesn’t sound out of place”. Wolves were surely looking at a year long fight to stay in the Premiership after winning the Championship last season. That’s yet to be determined, what is known is that in anticipation of his team’s clash with potential relegation fighters Burnley at home this Sunday, McCarthy made 10 changes in his starting eleven that won at White Hart Lane v Tottenham this past Saturday.
In the aftermath of the defeat, the Premier League have come out and asked McCarthy to explain his decisions in making so many changes to his first team (only U.S. goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann kept his starting spot for Wolves).
“The Premier League board have written to Wolverhampton Wanderers to request their observations in relation to the team fielded in their League fixture against Manchester United,” the league said in a statement. “Once the observations are received the board will decide whether any further action is warranted.”
Angry Wolves fans who made the trip to essentially watch their reserves suffer defeat at the hands of the current champions chanted, “we want our money back“, and “42 pounds to watch the reserves“.
McCarthy has defended his decision to field a weakened team by urging fans to realize he has the entire season’s goal of staying up as his motivator. “I understand the reaction of the fans and I knew these questions would be asked,” McCarthy said. “But my decisions will be judged on whether we are still in the Premier League.”
Fielding weakened teams in the Premier League for the long or short term benefit of your club is no new theme. Liverpool famously sent a B squad (making 9 first team changes) to Craven Cottage in May of 2007 just before they were to face AC Milan in the Champions League Final (Liverpool had just beaten Chelsea in the League midweek). That Saturday, Fulham won 1-0 with a Clint Dempsey strike securing their first win in 11 games and subsequently easing their relegation worries.
Should McCarthy have fielded his strongest team at Old Trafford thus risking the fitness of his first team players before what he believes to be a more winnable match? Is the decision of which team he fields anyone’s business but McCarthy’s? Have your say.