Monday, April 23, 2012
Wolves 0 Manchester City 2 - and with that relegation back to the Championship.
Since the departure of Mick McCarthy Wolves have gone into freefall, gaining just two points out of a possible 30. Relegation, when it finally came, was inevitable. Club owner Steve Morgan says that the board have "nothing to be embarrassed about" but I'm afraid I beg to differ.
Mick and the lads put in a Herculean effort last season, beating Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea; we beat Liverpool at Anfield and Aston Villa at Villa Park before staying up by the skin of our teeth in a nerve-shredding finale on the very last game.
But behind the relief and the celebrations there was a message, and the message was: "We need reinforcements". The players had given their all and it proved to be enough...but only just. We needed some quality signings in the close season to put some clear blue water between us and this scenario repeating itself.
So what did we get? A squad goalkeeper to replace the departing Marcus Hanneman (De Vries), the permanent signing of a player we already had on loan (O'Hara) and centre-half Roger Johnson, of whom perhaps the kindest thing you can say is that he has not proved to be the player we hoped for.
It has struck me this season just how many of the "band of brothers" that got us promoted in 2009 still form the majority of our current side: Henessey, Foley, Ward, Stearman, Berra, Jarvis, Kightly, Henry, Edwards, Ebanks-Blake... Take away Zubar, Doyle, Fletcher and the injured Hunt and O'Hara and it's that same Championship team, now worn out and battle-weary. We needed more signings, both in number and quality. They failed to materialise and relegation is the consequence.
Then there is the thorny issue of the managers post. I'll nail my colours to the mast and state that I didn't want Mick McCarthy to go. I know that there are others who think otherwise and I respect that. Maybe it was time for a change. However if the thinking - and I use that term loosely - behind dismissing Mick McCarthy when we did was an attempt to salvage our season and stave off relegation then clearly it has gone disasterously wrong. For me, the sacking of Mick McCarthy with 13 games to go, the transfer window shut and no money to spend ONLY makes sense if you bring in a replacement; if the board bring in someone who they feel can do what Mick cannot.
It made no sense to appoint appoint Terry Connor; a lovely guy who loves Wolverhampton Wanderers but is completely inexperienced as a manager at any level. I felt sorry for him actually, thrown in at the deep end, learning as he went along and trying to find answers that he clearly didn't have. Effectively the board left us with a weaker hand. Instead of changing the manager they simply subtracted from the existing managerial team. The fight and, crucially, the belief quickly ebbed away and relegation moved from a real possibility to nailed on certainty.
Still we've got a lovely new stand in the North Bank haven't we?! Just one thing though, before you let the fans in for a game shown live across the World via Sky TV, please make sure that you've bolted the seats on properly eh? The poor stewards were running up and down all afternoon as one seat after another gave way. It became a joke amongst the fans. I lost count once we reached double figures. Welcome to the cheap seats. North Bank sponsored by Poundland. Still, "nothing to be embarrassed about"....!
The fans, who often (unfairly) get a negative press for being fickle have been magnificent this season. In the face of adversity, not one single point at home this year and no hope of survival they've shown passion, pride and humour. It's made me proud to be a Wolves supporter all over again.
So it's back to the Championship. Much work to be done over the summer. Hopefully we can hang on to the majority of our best players and appoint an inspirational manager that can lead us forward. It's been an awful season. Relegation is a setback but it doesn't have to be a disaster if we learn the lessons of this season and act on them. Over to you Moxey & Morgan...