More Black than Gold

Posted by on Jun 24, 2009 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Wolves surely have a lot of work to do if they are to make any sort of noise in the Premier League. The Golden boys never really looked in danger of dropping out of the top two last term after cantering to the summit of the Championship early on, winning all but one of their opening eight games, but in truth their near-dominance owed as much to their stuttering rivals than to their own quality.
While they boast the brawny Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, unquestionably one of the Championship’s hottest prospects in recent seasons, in their vanguard, they are prone to gelatine-free blancmange-like wobbles; perhaps the most abject being a 5-2 reverse at Carrow Road last season when Leroy Lita, as useless as he is miserable most weeks, helped himself to a hat-trick. February was a melancholy Molinuex month too as the Wolves yielded just 2 points from a possible 15; 3 of which were surrendered meekly to a desperately out-of-sorts Argyle side that I had followed up to the Midlands more to tick off another ground than in expectation.
A poor record against their two main challengers, Birmingham and Reading, which saw Wolves bear just 1 point from 12 further indicates that Mick McCarthy, Barnsley’s famous son, will have to be busy in the transfer market if his team are to stand a chance against regular quality opposition. McCarthy’s Championship-winning team, carefully assembled over the past 3 seasons by plucking developing players from the lower leagues, will most probably have to be upset with regulars such as Richard Stearman, Andrew Keogh, Stephen Ward and Chris Iwelumo likely to struggle with the step-up in class.
Recent memory of McCarthy’s ferret-in-a-bag sideline posture combined with the criminally paltry £1.5m that Wolves paid Argyle to activate Ebanks-Blake’s release clause means that I will likely look on a Wolves struggle with a little schadenfreude but, having said that, I do think that Wolves have a fair chance of survival if current activity is anything to go by. While double M has already beaten off stiff competition to sign Nenad Milijas, a goal-scoring Serbian midfielder from Red Star Belgrade, he has also brought in Marcus Hahnemann, who you’d imagine would be a good character to have around. Moreover, McCarthy has shown clear signs that he is willing to break Wolves’ transfer record by chasing Hahnemann’s former Royals team-mate Kevin Doyle, who is in dire need of a fresh challenge, as well as showing interest in Craig Gardner, the Villa benchwarmer.
Potential new signings aside, the Wolves support will play a significant part in their team’s final standing. Legendarily known for their hypomanic approach to football-supporting, they showed both sides of their character in the two games that I witnessed Wolves play last year. While a packed and ear-splitting away end at a soggy Home Park on 2008/09’s opening day very nearly sucked a late winning goal in to the Argyle net, it was a different story at Molineux in February as the home support chewed up and spat out any chance of a home equaliser through their dogged determination to whistle and boo anything that didn’t result in a Wolves goal. Record-breaking transfer fees or not, the Wolves fans will have to be more patient this year.
is co-editor of The Two Unfortunates. He's 31, supports Plymouth Argyle and takes a particular interest in the fortunes of those Football League clubs west of Bristol. He tweets @lloydlangman.


  1. Pigo
    June 26, 2009

    My personal favourite description of Mickarthy is “McCarthy's an eedjut” (Brian Guerin, 2008). Quite apart from being an apt summation of a man who has varnished his own garage, this also encapsulates my own hopes and fears for the coming season.
    In recent years, my feeling that he is a manager who will get a team ‘there, but no further’ has become increasingly strong. Ireland’s plucky (sorry) exit from the 2002 World Cup was followed by the spectacle of his Sunderland team slamming into 20th place in the Premiership and stalling there for the rest of the season. This was after storming through the championship with relish the season before, and looking to have a fair chance of carrying that momentum into their bid for survival.
    Of course, McCarthy’s not alone in experiencing this kind of dramatic stall. Rocketing out of the championship is no guarantee of making a dent in the big time. It’s still hard to see McCarthy as anything other than a decent manager with significant limitations, one who has proven himself in the Championship but had two bites at the Premiership cherry without managing to swallow it.
    Granted, he will probably have a fair bit more to spend in his third attempt, in stark contrast to the skinny times at Sunderland, where he brought in a grand total of £4.25m in new signings, half of it on John Stead. £1m per goal probably isn’t really going to cut it, although having said that, it’s probably not far off the going rate in the Premiership these days.
    Having spent the past few seasons talking contentedly about our being in possession of ‘quite a few good young players, actually’, now comes the undignified spectacle of seeing them thrust blinking into the Premiership footlights and enduring Monday morning harangues about the quality of your left-back. Said left-back is invariably one’s secret favourite player, whose progress has been diligently followed since their youth-team days but was shown over the weekend making some Bramble-esque error on Match of the Day while pressed-shirted ex-pros shook their greying heads at him. Things certainly need to be done to the centre of defence, while we’re on that subject. Jody Craddock was far from adept when we bounced back down in 2004, and five years later at 33 there’s no reason to believe that he’ll be any better. Christophe Berra is another matter entirely, though. I’ve not been as pleased with a signing since we signed Colin Cameron (also from Hearts, as it goes.) Although if this season is anything like last time, he’ll get injured for the whole season, hang around for a bit after we get relegated and then go to Everton and end up playing for England (well, maybe not the last of those).
    The signing of Marcus Hahnemann, while encouraging, also signals a potentially sad day for Matt Murray. A former England U21 international, Player of the Season and man of the match in the 2003 Playoff Final, he was once the next big thingâ„¢, but with more career threatening injuries that he’s had first team starts in the last few years and having fallen victim to Wayne Hennessy’s stellar ascent, he is now in the last year of his contract and probably not long for the Molineux.

  2. Lloyd
    July 4, 2009

    Matt Murray was absolutely unstoppable (well, almost) in a score draw at Home Park on the opening day a few seasons ago. Possibly the best goalkeeping performance that I've witnessed in the flesh. He was just massive, which is mroe than you could say for wee Wayne H.


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