With the pantomime and debacle that was transfer deadline day firmly behind us, we are left to reflect on what that one cataclysmic day has left in its wake.
Much like Wolves’ last outing against Aston Villa, August 31st was satisfyingly uneventful – a juxtaposition that Wolves fans will no doubt be more than happy to accept after the tense unpredictability of the last two seasons.
No new faces came in whilst no major names moved on. The only official business of the closing stages of the transfer window saw up and coming ‘Karl Henry-esque’ midfielder David Davis loaned to Inverness CT to continue his footballing education in the SPL for the remainder of the season. There will always be those who see last minute business as essential, and will criticise the management for any lack of it (I have been one of those in the past) but for now and especially after our bright start to the campaign we must take stock and see the positives in our lack of activity on deadline day. It does not point towards a lack of ambition, nor does it ring the financial alarm bells, it simply indicates that the man in charge is content with what he already has at his disposal. This is a good thing, and when you look at the bigger picture it is obvious to see why.
The rumour mill was in full flow as ever on deadline day. As entertaining as it may be to hear that so-and-so was spotted eating in a Wolverhampton McDonalds, they very rarely have any substance. England under 21 starlet Henri Lansbury was mentioned as a possible loan signing, whilst Celtic hitman Gary Hooper was touted as a target due to former interest from McCarthy – neither materialised. Perhaps it is a lesson learned from the Wolves chief. After all, in previous years last minute signings have been more an indication of the pressing of the panic button rather than a step in the right direction. Not to mention any names… but Stephen Maierhofer, George Friend and Nigel Quashie please take a bow! No, Mick McCarthy prefers not to pander to the masses these days and gets the bulk of his transfer activity over before his annual summer excursions begin.
Three additions to the squad since the dramatic conclusion to last season on the outside seems pretty minimal. On face value it would appear that for a squad that survived by the skin of its teeth, that three new signings (well two if you don’t include O’Hara) is nowhere near sufficient enough to represent progress. Yet consider this; we had enough character in the squad to take victories over Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and put the undefeated streak of Manchester United to the sword. The current group found the right blend of quality and passion to beat our three local rivals in intense derby games. We already have proven goalscorers in Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher, as well as healthy goal contributions from midfield in Matt Jarvis, Stephen Hunt and Jamie O’Hara. All that was really missing was someone to plug the holes in a leaky defence, and for the manager to learn from his own mistakes and organise the team more efficiently and make the correct calls during matches – and in the early stages of the new season all the signs are there to suggest this is happening.
Four goals in the bag, only one conceded and seven points unbeaten in our first three games are all the indication that a Wolves fan needs that their side is going in the right direction. The 0-0 draw at Aston Villa two weeks ago was a fairly incident free, scrappy goal bore draw, and nothing will make the Wolves faithful happier! The media hounded us after the game for our lack of ambition and creativity. We were labelled as ‘boring Wolves’. I say superb, more of the same please! Nothing pleases us more than to take a great point and a clean sheet to boot away from Villa Park.
The performance showed grit and determination, character to repel an attack with international pedigree and most encouragingly the correct choices during the game from the dugout. Under increasing pressure there was only ever going to be one winner in the game, as Villa poured forward and laid siege on our penalty area. So, Mick reacted. His decision to replace two wingers with full backs wreaked of negativity. Essentially though, it was the sole difference between a respectable point and our first notch in the ‘L’ column. The game died a death after this. Wolves saw more of the ball without creating any chances and the game was played out for the final twenty minutes – something which did not sit well with the footballing jury. Whereas in the past we endeavoured to turn wins into draws and draws into losses, this result saw us turn a corner and move positively in another direction. But we stand proudly and say we are not out to entertain the neutrals. We play for ourselves and our fans and look after our own interests. We may be ‘boring’ and we may be ‘dirty’ but we would have it no other way. Us against the world, backs against the wall is a philosophy which McCarthy revels in. Needless to say the majority of the Wolves supporters are happy to stand beside him in the fight.
Which takes me nicely back to the original topic. A team that has scored goals, defended valiantly and acquired the adaptation to circumstance characteristic, in my mind, requires very little change. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
There are those out there who will always have their devils and their doubts. Why didn’t we sign a striker after Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was ruled out of action for up to six weeks? Why didn’t we move for the likes of Joe Cole, Shaun Wright Phillips and Scott Dann? If they are willing to move to the likes of Blackburn and QPR then surely they would come to Wolves. Why don’t we show more ambition in the transfer market and sign bigger names as we are now a much more attractive option to suitors now that we appear to be much more accustomed to the top flight of English football? Simply put it is time to show a little faith in the ideologies that McCarthy has for his team, and our club, myself included. After all, Mick has said numerous times on record that he has no time for ‘big time Charlies’. And fair enough. If the players he buys owe him some sort of favour for being at that level then so be it. At least we can move forward in the comfort that the majority of our squad will play for the manager and that we are free from disruptive influence.
Our supposed lack of ambition is also the main reason that we are the ONLY club in the top flight that are totally free from debt. When you consider the plight of West Ham and Portsmouth in recent years due to extravagant wage expenditures, or the fact that Everton has made headlines recently that signing ‘big name’ players to lucrative deals is now the reason that the Toffees are potless year after year and cannot financially back one of the league’s top managers, we have a lot to be thankful for.
Those short months between the end of a turbulent 2010/11 campaign and a totally fresh start were spent taking stock; Dealing with the talent currently at our disposal, identifying areas of concern and learning from past mistakes. Change can be a good thing, if only in small doses. Our promising start to the Barlcays Premier League season is all the proof you need. Onwards and upwards…
Forever, we are Wolves.