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How I Survived Survival Sunday at Wolves; And Why I’m Worried About Next Season

3456688020 4afba8391c How I Survived Survival Sunday at Wolves; And Why I’m Worried About Next Season

Wolves fans celebrate survival at Molineux

The date was Sunday, May 22nd 2011. The day and indeed the whole week prior to it was the closest, most intriguing Barclays Premier League survival battle in years – possibly ever.

The publicity and anticipation spread worldwide. For one day, the eyes of the footballing enthusiast were drawn away from the Manchester United’s and the Chelsea’s and lay firmly fixated upon the ‘Big Five’ all attempting to steer themselves clear of the two remaining relegation places.

Occupying the position of the often mentioned ‘neutral’ was the majority of the world’s football audience. Up against them were the brave few, the loyal supporters of Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham City, Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers. Unfortunately for the minority (myself included) there was no anti-climax. Gary Linekar told of how the situation at the foot of the most prestigious league in the world changed a pulsating fourteen times over the 90 minutes. And the nation ‘did an Oasis’ and duly went mad for it! Pundits, presenters and fans alike couldn’t get enough of the drama and emotion that ebbed and flowed throughout the day. As they say, brilliant for the neutral isn’t it? However, spare a thought for those of us who, with every fibre of our being, went to hell and back on that fateful day.

It is something that I will tell a thousand times in my lifetime. Nothing I have ever experienced or been apart of could hold a candle to the rollercoaster of emotions I and 26,000 others rode on that day. The phone calls, the text messages, people with radios, Facebook statuses, Blackberry updates, mini portions of the crowd exploding into random fits of jubilation – there was no hiding from our current predicament.

I won’t bore you with facts and figures from that day, that has been done time and again. Needless to say we survived. WE, being Wolverhampton Wanderers. Whether it was my natural analyst instinct or just me being a general miser, but when the final whistle came and we learned of our fate, amidst all the scenes of unbridled joy; strangers hugging and kissing one another, raucous chanting, fist pumping and ‘We shall not be moved’ – I sat, slumped into my seat in the Southbank (Jack Harris Stand) Molineux pondering how all of this seemed a charade, a papering over of the cracks compared to the big picture.

While others (fans and players alike) mindlessly celebrated our survival I was already on the outside looking in. Considering Wolves were the only side to have home advantage on the final day, Wolves had the easiest opponent ‘on paper’ and Wolves were two places above the drop-zone. At 4pm GMT our fate was well and truly in our own hands for the first time all season. We seemingly endeavored to do our best to throw it all away!

Take the skin of your teeth, and shed a few more layers. Wolverhampton Wanderers were a mere three minutes from being relegated from the English Premier League. That was until Irish international winger Stephen Hunt pulled the proverbial rabbit from the hat and curled a sweet left footed shot past the spectating Paul Robinson. Almost all of the 28,000 in that famous golden stadium saw it as the great escape, a last ditch dramatic goal had seen us survive on the final day of the season and even sweeter was the fact that it sent our local rivals Birmingham City down in our place. But it wasn’t ‘our place’, it should never have been. I could not help distance myself from the euphoria and see it for what it truly was. In the wider picture we had lost ANOTHER ‘winnable’ home game against a team around us terms of league position. For 45 minutes our best available team, in the manager’s eyes at least, had bottled it on the big stage when it really mattered most. Our salvation was shamefully reliant upon others when it was comfortably in our own hands before kickoff. The whole situation stank of more of the same to me.

Take away the fact that it was the final curtain of a record breaking Premier League season. Remove the hype, anticipation and pressure and it was bleak evidence of more of the same from Mick McCarthy’s Wolves. Beyond the glitz and glamour of the occasion it was another failure to win a game that really mattered. The path to survival is no secret, it has been passed down through generations year after year in football. You have to beat the teams around you. All this adds to the frustration of the loyalist and the baffling, enigmatic query of how and why can a Wolverhampton Wanderers team who have beaten Chelsea, Manchester United, Man City and Liverpool in one season, not beat the likes of Wigan Athletic, West Ham and Blackburn at home!?

It’s the age old adage. If you’d have said to me at the start of the campaign that my team would beat the Premier League’s top 3, Liverpool at Anfield as well as beat all of their four Midlands rivals in one season I’d have checked your pulse before taking it hands down! But to do all of this and still be three minutes away from relegation seems absurd. We didn’t send out our special squadron for these games, it was the same personnel — give or take — that played throughout the season. The same defenders that shut out Rooney and Drogba were made to look like amateurs by the likes of Jason Roberts and Luke Varney — with all due respect. The same front line that put three past Tottenham, scored five goals in total against Man City and combine to slay the undefeated Manchester United, were shut out by the leaky back four of Wigan and West Ham. Even Newton and Galileo would struggle with this one. It just doesn’t add up. While it entertainingly baffles the media and sporting pundits, it frustratingly grates on those of us who entrust our money, our faith and for the most part our livelihood in these players.

Remarkably all of this went through my mind in about ten minutes after the final whistle on that day. Personally, I foretell more of the same in the seasons to come. The buck stops with the manager.

“You can always tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell him a lot!”

It’s as if it was written for Mick McCarthy. A man who has divided opinion in the city of Wolverhampton to massive proportions. The grumpy, stuck in his ways northerner that antagonises fans, makes life difficult for the media and has little time for anybody else’s opinion. Some say he’s a magician, ‘Magic Mick’ ‘Super Mick’, while others say he’s lost it, ‘McClueless’. His guard to the media is one thing but it is shown far too often to his own supporters, and the paying public see his self pride masquerading as ignorance. Do his ethics about work rate and ‘putting a shift in’ speak volumes about his character and mentality, or do they mean he has no time for skill, flair and genuine footballing ability? Does his first order of business to release Paul Ince and public rejection of bringing back old favorites Lescott and Keane support a ‘young ‘n’ hungry’ policy and vision for the future, or do they highlight his inability to handle personalities bigger than his own and inadequacy when it comes to managing ‘top’ players. If you heard his interviews or team talks you’d think he was setting up a workforce of 11 men to go working on the rail road, rather than trying to win a football game. Too often it seems that personality and likeability win the day over genuine footballing talent.

Most importantly, and one query that Mr Chairman must consider in the coming months, is regardless of whether Mick is the saviour having guided Wolves to successive survivals and beaten the well documented ‘second season syndrome’, is it a case of ‘thank you very much but goodbye’? Have Wolverhampton Wanderers come as far as they will go under the current regime. With the stadium development, £20 million or so seemingly wasted this season and a progressive attitude coming from the owner, he must decide whether Mick McCarthy will buy into his vision for the future to take a club of esteemed tradition to the next level, or will they forever be the ‘backs against the wall’ underdog, relegation fodder that Mick McCarthy seems to relish.

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23 Responses to How I Survived Survival Sunday at Wolves; And Why I’m Worried About Next Season

  1. @sk_roberts says:

    A sober and considered view of what were, as you point out, wild celebrations following a 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn. Wolves seemed to be pulling off remarkable results every second week at one point in the season, but the big wins couldn’t mask the inability to beat the bottom teams, which might suggest motivation issues, tying in to your belief that McCarthy is all about getting players “pumped” for the bigger ocassion without telling them how they can actually win games. Having said all that, as an Irishman I’ll always admire him for taking us to the World Cup!

  2. Mekias says:

    Beating the big teams and failing against the smaller teams is something that Everton has done as well this year. If I took just the top 7 clubs and looked at their records against each other, only ManU would have more points than Everton. Everton picked up 19 points from the “Sky Six” clubs this season but only 35 points from the 12 teams below them in the table. Some clubs just seem to be able to play at an extra level when facing the big boys but are a bit flat when swimming with the minnows.

    Moyes’ philosophy is similar to Mick’s with regard to work rate being the key. He’ll play a guy like Anichebe (0 goals) as a striker rather than Beckford (10 goals) because Beckford doesn’t track back often enough. While work rate is extremely beneficial to a club, sometimes these things get taken too far.

  3. Chris Machin says:

    Thanks for the replies guys, and never a truer word said than the final line of the second comment.

    McCarthy’s values on effort and work rate are taken to the extreme.
    His lack of time for players like Nenad Milijas is 100% proof of this. Here is a player with international pedigree, captaining a really strong and ever improving side in Serbia, he ‘does what he does’ but does it well. His set piece ability and talent to pick a pass from whatever distance is second to none in our squad, yet he continually falls behind the Karl Henry’s and Stephen Ward’s of the team that are all substance but no style.
    What Wolves need now is someone that can find the right blend between these two components. Work rate and endeavour is all very much appreciated especially among the predominantly working class fans in the Black Country, but we are also wise enough to realise that to survive and establish yourself in the EPL, there has to be some quality involved somewhere along the line.

    Your analogy with Beckford is one I can whole heartedly relate to. Mick’s interviews have often found him putting all the owness on ‘tracking back’ and speaking highly of attacking players defensive contribution, to me this seems pedantic and contradictory. I still stand by the fact that he ruined Freddy Eastwood’s career after we bought him from Southend. He scored 6 goals in 6 games for Wolves and in one week got two for Wales, one of them away in Germany which is not to be scoffed at. He was an instant hit with the fans who loved the fact that he was a goal scorer, not much else but a poacher and a box man who did precisely that. Surely this is the be all and end all of our beautiful game, to score goals. Not in Mick’s eyes. He subsequently lost his place to the “industrial” Andy Keogh who was willing to run box to box and play (poorly) out of position for McCarthy and was hardly seen again that season before being shipped off to Coventry.
    McCarthy lost a huge chunk of the Wolves fans that season especially as we missed out on a playoff spot which at the time was a minimum requirement.

    The real frustrations are born from McCarthy’s interviews. They are a novelty and humurous to pundits and neutrals, but for those of us who have to deal with the idiocracy week in week out it is anything but.
    He has been quoted on live tv and in the national press on how a certain player “will always be in my team, gives everything for the course, he’s a top bloke” . . . . baffling really to think that a football manager would continually select a player in his team because he was a ‘top bloke’. It’s been said time and again through the years that any self respecting loyal fan would, given half the chance go out onto the field and run around continuously for the course, doesn’t mean he’ll be any good at it!

    So something’s gotta give if we are to survive a third time round. I look at teams like Stoke, Bolton, Fulham and think how they have managed to establish themselves almost effortlessly after promotion to the Premier League and wonder why when they are no bigger club than Wolves, they haven’t spent any more money, they have no bigger fan bases and no access to facilities that Wolves have not. So the buck stops, as I said with the management. Those teams developed with the times and made their transition into the Premier League by adapting to circumstance. McCarthy holds the same values and principles and cannot be advised, no matter what league we are in or what we are aiming to be. This is where the chairman must step in.

    If Steve Morgan is investing his own money into increasing Molineux capacity, and thus has a vision for the club to progress from being relegation fodder to an established Premier league side then he must make a tough decision. Either McCarthy changes his ways, or Morgan changes his manager. Blood and thunder will only get you so far. . .

  4. Fabio says:

    Well thought out

  5. Steve says:

    What about removing players like Hammill, who had been excellent, for players who had been out for injury and in an unknown form. It’s really sad when players who are pretty consistently good, such as Hammill, Milijas, Berra, etc. are randomly removed and then not seen until an injury paves their way.

    • Chris Machin says:

      Honestly could not agree more, there’s a large chunk of Wolves fans who’ve failed to realise the fact that we played some of our best stuff this season when a team was forced together rather than being picked from a selection. Mick cannot manage with choice. . .

      We have more wins without Henry than with him, as harash as it seems his injury absence at the turn of the year was a blessing in disguise because Milijas, Edwards, Foley and Jones really flourished sharing those midfield three positions.

      Berra is one of my favourites. Looks off balance at times but is immense in the air and was super human against Chelsea, United and in particular Villa away. Let down by the calamitous Stearman for most of the season.

      And I think we can safely add poor Adam Hammill to the club of McCarthy rejects that he’s obviously fell out with because they’ve got their own opinion and don’t immediately fall into line. Came into the side in January and looked a real coup for £500k, was suddenly the unjustified make weight for the pre mature return of a top heavy, ring rusty Michael Kightly, and originally lost his place to Adlene Guedioura who I rate highly but is a central combative midfielder not a right winger! Rumours are that Hammill quite justifiably pointed this out to McCarthy who did his usual I’ll show you who’s boss routine and we haven’t seen or heard from him since. For other examples please see Charlie Mulgrew, Jelle Van Damme and Freddy Eastwood!

  6. Guy says:

    Great article. I really enjoy articles like this and the one on Stoke before the FA Cup. There is much more to the Prem than the Big Boys and it is particularly interesting to hear from those of you who are actually living the dream (or nightmare) from the stands on a week to week basis.

    Thanks :-)

    • Chris Machin says:

      Much appreciated matey! With the league this season effectively being squashed i.e more points at the bottom less at the top, it has been a privilege to be a part of. To say my lot were the first team this season to beat Manchester United, as well as doing City and Chelsea at home it’s hard for most to imagine why I am still so glum in this pre season. It certainly provides food for thought, in the form of the article, so thanks as wel from me to Chris Harris for publishing it :-D

      • Guy says:

        “….so thanks as well from me to Chris Harris for publishing it.”

        Ah, well, The Gaffer is a most accommodating fellow and has accepted a number of articles from me. I wish you boys from across the pond would write more. There’s nothing quite like, “I was there.” Makes my day. :-)

  7. Steve H says:

    That photograph does not show fans celebrating survival; it shows fans celebrating promotion in 2009!

  8. Ian says:

    A Wolves article! YES!! I am a loyal Wolves supporter from Canada and I could not agree with you more. My mates from Wolvo love Mc one day, hate him the next and I have to admit I share the same feelings…

    He has a favoritism towards Irish players like Ward (who is also dating his daughter) and if it were not for the scotsman Fletcher, Wolves would have been relegated no questions asked. Doyle is a very good player but Fletcher was in better form yet Mc plays Doyle over Fletcher until Doyle gets hurt. I am glad however that he started to play a 4-4-2 instead of a 4-5-1. You need to try and attack teams instead of inviting them into your third of the field.

    Speaking of frustrating…O’hara has yet to be signed but Craddock has been offered a new deal which I still cannot wrap my head around. O’hara wants to be at Wolves and expressed his desire to stay while Craddock is aging and will most likely be a substitute. Sounds like Karl Henry will be off to Newcastle which in my opinion is not that great of a loss.

    I agree, watching all those matches on relegation day was gut wrenching! At the end of the day I’m just glad that Wolves are still in the prem. Here’s hoping to a better finish for next season!

    Wolves have a fantastic history and going to Molineux and watching my first ever premier league match will be something that I never forget…I just hope that Wolves do the right thing and tell Mc that he needs to play the RIGHT players, not just the Irish ones…

    • Chris Machin says:

      Haha! I am as pleased to be able to publish the article as you are to be reading it my friend. So jealous that you get the pleasure of dwelling up in Canada, Wolverhampton offers very little for a budding sports columnist like myself.

      However once again, it’s nice to hear people who chorus my opinions. Believe me, saying Karl Henry is not that much of a loss is an understatement. He’s in the Clique, one of Mick’s boys that is guaranteed a place in the side regardless of form, performance and ability. The boy Guedioura or O’Hara could play his role so much better.

      We were all noticing and getting suitably worried by the patterns in Micks policies. If you weren’t Irish or ex-Sunderland at one stage you didnt have a chance. He pleasantly surprises us now and again by picking up a decent foreigner which is something he wouldnt have been seen dead doing at one point, however they seem to fall out of favour all to quickly and are bumped on which I fear will be the fate of Milijas sooner rather than later.

      Doyler is magnificent, I haven’t seen anyone play the loen striker role like him since I can remember and I’m talking not just Wolves but football in general. His down side is his goal return, but possibly that comes with playing on his own up top. Fletcher and Doyle seems blindingly obvious as a partnership, but in order to do that Mick is goign to have to learn how to play and coach a 4-4-2 system because the floodgates open every time he does. It is possible, and it is the future but the square pegs in round holes theory means the personnel is totally wrong for it at the current time. . .

      • Gwilym Machin (No relation) says:

        Ah. I see. You want to sack our most successful manager in the last 30 years so that we can be ‘taken to the next level’. If I had a pound for everyone i’ve heard on a radio phone in saying that (insert manager’s name) must be sacked as he’ll never take them to the next level, then I’d be a rich man. I’m sure Charlton fans said that about Alan Curbishley. Comparisons with Fulham and Bolton are ridiculous. Do you know how long they’ve been in the Premier League compared with us. I’ll give you a clue. On the front of the Bolton programme they were celebrating being in this division for 10 years, and I don’t think either of those teams, and certainly not Stoke, have done it effortlessly. All three of them ‘put a shift in’. Mick certainly divides opinion. I’ve got friends who despise him. There again they despised him when we were top of the Championship scoring for fun and winning games easily so I’m not sure what they want really. Maybe Hoddle back. Mick will be backed again in the close season by Jez Moxey and Steve Morgan and hopefully there wil be another season of improvement. We can not have another season when we’re giving 6 points away to the likes of Wigan and expect to survive. One day Mick will leave/be sacked and you’ll be able to bring out this article with a smug grin and be able to say ‘I told you so’. Until then don’t be too miserable. The fixtures are out soon and they won’t contain Barnsley, Brighton or Peterborough. It was pretty close but believe me after some of the rubbish we’ve watched at Molineux over the last 20 years we have plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

        • Steve says:

          I can understand both sides of the coin, but the legitimate and frequent complains from fans aren’t completely inadmissible just because he’s been somewhat successful so far. I like Mick but question some of his decisions; it’s not hard to understand why he divides opinion so much.

          No team or business of any kind should merely be “grateful” for what someone brings to them compared to past experiences. If they start tripping up or stagnating then it’s time for a change. Not that I’m saying one way or another, but find “well he got us out of the Championship so you should just be happy with that” to be a ridiculous line of reasoning.

        • Chris Machin says:

          The real justification I have to relieve ‘super’ Mick of his duties is simply down to our comparison with other clubs.

          Bolton, Stoke, Fuham, and for god sake Wigan for the last 6 seasons! . . . for example. None of which are bigger clubs than Wolves, none of which are better supported and none of which spend any more money. It hurts to have to aspire to ‘do a Stoke’ when we have been better off for decades…Yet they made seemless transitions into Premier League life following promotion because they had the nouse and the knowledge at the helm to realise what was needed in order to do so.

          Mick McCarthy does not. He cannot be advised, because he is too pig headed to take it. You can’t argue the fact that he values the headless chickens over the proper footballers, and he has too many of Mick’s boys in a squad whose names are first on the team sheet regardless of form or overall ability. For these reasons, we can never progress under Mick McCarthy, because he cannot and stubbornly will not embrace the change that is needed to turn the club into the likes of those afformentioned and drag ourselves away from the constant threat of that bottom three. My argument was not another general Mick bashing, it was a well thought out and justified reason as to why we need to act now if Steve Morgan plans on filling those extra 6,000 seats he’s puttin into the ground.

          The proof is in the pudding down the road at West Brom. Again, as much as it pains me to say so. Unlike us they spent the entire season out of the bottom three, and surpassed any achievement that we have managed so far by finishing 11th. I cannot help but think this is because they learned from previous mistakes and embraced change. As soon as there was even a sniff of threat to their league status this season, they made a change that has paid off no end.

          We are a long way away from a side that can sit comfortably mid table, that is the holy grail, and well out of Mick’s reach

        • Chris Machin says:

          you must be a relation we are a dying breed!

  9. Pete says:

    I watched Survival Sunday at home in Philly, but went through a variety of emotions as Wolves’ position changed throughout the 90mins. I can only imagine what it was like at Molineux.

    I’m happy we avoided relegation, but unless we make some key signings this summer, I think we could be in a similar situation next year.

    Great article btw. Nice to see some Wolves coverage on EPLtalk.

  10. Terry [astraltrader] says:

    I was quite impressed with your article until you blundered into inaccurate generalisations involving the immense Berra and the Calamitous Stearman.
    Give me Stearman over the shirt tugging Berra any day of the week.

    [Tend to agree with you about Mick though!]

  11. Doreen says:

    Great article Chris and so unerringly true. I too went to hell and back as we yoyo’d up and down the relegation zone until the dying minutes of the game. Being the only Wolves fan in Seychelles (as far as I know), it was even more torturous.

    It’s true that McCarthy values a workhorse to a thoroughbred. The team performed extraordinary feats in beating Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City yet were frustratingly and defensively poor against the teams around us. Those miraculous points against the big teams saved our season – but we will not get away with it next time.

    This is the Premier League. The team still comprises most players who did a fantastic job in getting the team promoted from the Championship, and whilst they have all improved and grown together in this league, investment of higher-calibre is needed. How ironic is it that the defence is so vulnerable when the manager used to be a defender. Wayne Hennessey has been our saving grace so often this season, in spite of and not because, of the back four. I do hope that this gets properly addressed next season. As for the midfield, I am actually quite pleased with the options, except that Karl Henry cannot play in a 442 formation but is more effective shielding the back four in 451.

    Mick McCarthy must be commended for the synergy and team spirit that is evident in the team and for pushing them to punch above their weight, but he has been frustratingly stubborn and made some bad calls with the team selection in crunch games. I am so relieved that we have survived another season in the Premier League – what an incredible achievement indeed! I just hope that team will be properly overhauled and better equipped to face the challenges in 2011/2012.

  12. Gwilym Machin (No relation) says:

    “Bolton, Stoke, Fuham, and for god sake Wigan for the last 6 seasons! . . .”

    As I said in my piece, these clubs have been in the PL for much longer than we have. The ‘Wimmabigclub’ attitude is just farcical.

    “Mick McCarthy does not. He cannot be advised, because he is too pig headed to take it. You can’t argue the fact that he values the headless chickens over the proper footballers, and he has too many of Mick’s boys in a squad whose names are first on the team sheet regardless of form or overall ability.”

    So you want him to listen to the fans. This is the Mick McCarthy who took on the Irish nation by falling out with it’s favourite son, Roy Keane. That was a big mistake, or maybe it wasn’t. He did only get them to the last 16 of the World Cup. Anyway, I personally wouldn’t want him to listen to the fans. Do you read the nonsense on the message boards and the phone ins. Now for the headless chickens. Do you mean Kevin Doyle or Matt Jarvis or Jody Craddock or Stephen Fletcher or Jamie O’Hara or Kevin Foley or SEB or Guedioura. Each one of those players would be insulted by that term. You need a blend of graft and skill and each set of fans will say that their manager has got favourites. At the moment having completed 2 years in the PL it is graft that has kept us there and probably without the graft of players like Stephen Hunt over the last 3 games you would really have something to moan about.

    Ideally I’m sure Mick wants to play 442 which is why he signed Stephen Fletcher. However it was apparent very early on last season that the defence was nowhere near solid enough and 451 was the only way forward. Besides O’Hara I wouldn’t spend a penny on anything other that 2 centre backs and a left back. It’s still aguable that Jody Craddock is still the best defender at the club and that must be addressed in the close season.

    Finally a few questions for you.

    1. Out of interest who do you have in mind to replace Mick?

    2. What would you class as success next season?

    3. If you could pick a club that you wished Wolves realistically could be at this moment in time who would that be?

    Up the Wolves

    PS. You said that West Brom finished 11th last season. The year before Birmingham finished 9th. Just food for thought.

    PPS You really have to let Freddy Eastwood go. If he was that good he wouldn’t be still be playing for Coventry now – 17 goals in 108 appearances. And as for Charley Mulgrew……………..

    • Chris Machin says:

      Gwilym, you have challenged my fortitude, my integrity, my beliefs and my standing as a man. . . Ok that may be a little extreme, but I have been called to arms, and I will now ascend the witness stand and begin my case for the defense (see how Americanised I am).

      I understand that my allegations have caused a stir upon this sacred website, as much as my post has bought relief to those chosen few who seem to have longed achingly for a Wolverhampton Wanderers themed post.

      As I read up I will address the previous post from bottom to top.

      Charlie Mulgrew – I’m not saying he’s a world beater but he is proof of a better left back than George Elokobi and Stephen Ward, a triumphant return to Celtic and has played consistently well in a position that we have been crying out for all season. Then again, Jelle Van Damme was also bought as a left back and left disillusioned after 4 starts out on the right wing (see the square pegs in round holes theory which also features McCarthy’s ludicrous decision to throw Stearman to right back at the dying stages of the season and drop Kevin Foley an actual right back altogether) Other examples of this include the mind boggling decision with Adlene Guedioura, a combative central midfielder playing as a right winger when we had two actual right wingers by trade sat on the bench. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was needs must and we hadn’t got anyone else….

      The ‘Headless chickens’ theory does not actually apply to any of the players whom you mentioned as suggestions, in fact they are all worthy of the cause. That theory would apply mainly to Karl Henry, and also loosely to Stephen Ward, Richard Stearman and in previous years Andy Keogh. All of whom Mick for some reason keeps undenying faith in to a point where it seems he will fit them in any which way possible as long as they play. Karl Henry is the real blood boiler though. Forever a favourite in Mick’s eyes, and that’s not just a fans perception, that is fact. Not only is Henry picked ritually, never subbed and never dropped, his immunity comes at the expense of others. While Mick has no issue in making impact decisions like dropping an in form Ebanks-Blake or even Matt Jarvis from the starting 11, to give them a kick up the arse, it hurts him to leave Henry out even when it is obvious to 28,000 or so arses on seats that he is not up to the task.
      I am overly tired of hearing such tripe as “who else would play Henry’s role” and “we need him in that certain position” I would love to find out what exactly is this ‘Henry’s role’. He is sold to us by management as a leader of men, the anchorman, the tough tackling, no nonsense, tidy upper and protection for the back four. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Mr Wolverhampton, goes missing when the going gets tough and our backs are against the wall. His continual failure to turn up in local derby games is bewildering especially for someone who is supposed to be Wolves through and through. He can also be found running around a lot and not doing a fat lot else. He follows the opposition ball carrier box to box but seems to just shepherd them towards our goal without ever making a challenge. Passing the baton as the ‘leader’ . This must be deemed quality in Mick’s eyes, whereas is goes against everything that his captain and golden boy claims to be. He doesn’t score, has no creativity, doesn’t shoot, cannot pass, pulls out of tackles and is more of a break up merchant to our attacking play than he is to the opposition… so aside from that what exactly is this man offering to our side? Essentially we are a man short every time we go ou with Henry, he is the reason we are inept at the 4-4-2, and that I’m afraid is all down to the blind faith shown by the manager who has too much pride to admit he is wrong and therfore will continue to persist with ‘tat’ such as Henry, Ward and co on the off chance they have a decent game and he can antagonise fans by saying ‘I told you so’.
      Childish really.

      Again these frustrations at the continual faith shown in non performing players are heightened by the fact that we have more capable players missing out. Milijas, Jones, Guedioura, are or were in Jones’s case able to contribute more to the side and all have had to sadly play second fiddle to Captain Fantastic. O’Hara is an all effort, swashbuckling tackler, who also has decent ability on the ball, get him in ‘Henry’s role’ that seems all too obvious. Milijas plays the role for his country, and uses his deeper pitch status to pick his sublime passes that we all know he has in his locker, then again I suppose Mick knows best.

      This is perhaps the reason for McCarthy’s success as you mentioned with Ireland, and indeed his early success with Wolves. It’s all very well managing a team that only plays four games a year, as he did with the Republic. But they were a side much like the team that McCarthy first inherited at Wolves. Both times Mick had limited options and a first eleven that picked itself, and he worked wonders with it, granted. To achieve a play off place that first season was a real rags to riches story for us. Then they gave him some money to spend, and some options to choose from, and suddenly he is forced to make decisions and they are more often than not inexcusably irritating.

      The squad we have now is still essentially full of Championship players. They are the remains of our Championship side, plus a load of new buys this season from relegated clubs. Doesn’t anyone ponder that there is a reason that these players were relegated in the first place?
      But of course, these are the only players that Mick’s ego will allow him to purchase. People that owe him something for being where they are, and will immediately fall into line because they are happy at being given a second chance. Ultimately as this season has proven, they just aren’t good enough. Yes, Hunt and Fletcher may have finished the season in style, but where were they for 8 months prior to this? Is Steven Muoyokolo even still alive? And again, we lost to Blackburn, the players and manager couldn’t handle that situation and we keeled over to a side who by league standing were no better than us and should by right really have been relegated. We survived due to other’s failure rather than on merit. And we invested £20 million into the team this summer, and there was no real proof of improvement, certainly not enough to merit that vast sum of money.

      And you are right, Bolton, Wigan, Fulham et al have been in the PL a lot longer than Wolves, but how have they managed that feit? They adapted, they realised what was needed to integrate into this best league in the world, and they did it. They paid wages, they bought better players and they made changes at the helm that were difficult but ultimately rewarding. This is what I am saying is required at Wolves.

      Yes, Mick is by right our most succesful manager in decades, a breath of fresh air compared to Hoddle and McGhee, and has accoladed that surpassed the holder of that previous crown Dave Jones. BUT… it really is now a case of you have taken us as far as you can go. No doubt about it, Mick McCarthy IS NOT A PREMIER LEAGUE MANAGER. He doesnt possess the intelligence or the fortitude that is required. A large part of a team’s success and advancement to that next level is the personnel. As I said, our squad is by and large mainly championship quality punching above their weight. McCarthy cannot handle ego and more importantly cannot stand the fact that there should be a player in the dressing room who is more influential than he is. This is why we will never see proven Premier league quality bought into the club under Mick. And this is what you need to be a Bolton or a Stoke, who both realised that the addition of players with some know how and some class, at whatever cost, was needed to stabilise their club in the Premier league. They’ve been in the Premier league a long time as you say I understand this, but they had the ingredients to survive, to establish and then to move forwards. We simply don’t and never will under the current regime because it has become dour and predictable.

      He is still banding about the same fly by night policies that we heard 6 years ago, ‘young ‘n’ hungry’ … but not good enough.

      Who would I have instead. Well you’ve already mentioned a few yourself. Curbishley for one. Allardyce, O’Neill… and before you or anyone begins to list why these people are not suitable candidates for Wolves and no better than McCarthy well as a matter of fact they are, hands down. Their Premier League pedigree has seen them take teams from similar positions like ours, Leicester City, Charlton and Bolton Wanderers and get to that ‘next level’. They have won trophies, and managed teams into the top 7 consecutively. You cannot argue that or dispute it, it’s not personality it’s cold hard fact. McCarthy’s premier league record after 3 seasons stands at 2 skin of the teeth survivals largely down to the failure of others, and one season with Sunderland who finished with the record lowest points in history. This speaks volumes for me as to why either of those three are more suited to Wolverhampton Wanderers and our current status in English football than the man currently at the healm.

      I fear another season ahead reminiscent of the one just gone, full of cuckoo decisions such as of right backs replaced by centre backs at crucial times, strikers (Wardy) at full back, central midfielders on the wing, Strikers out of position on the wing, a continual dilemma between 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 that he cannot solve leading to three or four different random formations per game and more fallouts with decent players (Van Damme, Hammill) which sees them immediately exiled and more signings that cost a few million that we have never seen or heard of since . That is Mick McCarthy in a nutshell.

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