Mick McCarthy - Right or Wrong Decision?

Supporting Wolverhampton Wanderers for the entirety of my football following life has brought no end of emotional ups and downs. Having sat through second-tier, mid-table mediocrity for a decade under Graham Taylor, Mark McGee and Colin Lee, a short period of success with Dave Jones and a dismal ‘draw specialist’ season under Glenn Hoddle; Sunday’s deserved 5-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion was the absolute worst single result I have ever experienced as a Wolves fan. By the time Peter Odemwingie was celebrating WBA’s fifth (his third), I was watching through my fingers with my head buried firmly within my hands.

After five and a half years, this result, along with Wolves’ poor recent run of form, has inevitably cost Mick McCarthy his job at Molineux; a sacking that has been called for by an increasing number of WWFC ‘armchair managers’ who had long come to the conclusion that they’re better qualified for the managerial position than Big Mick.

This isn’t the first time McCarthy’s position has been in doubt; looking back over his time in charge, the end of his second season (07-08) particularly presents itself in my memory. Finishing just outside the Championship playoff positions by a single goal, the ever-present Wolves pessimists were calling for the head of McCarthy; thankfully the board paid no attention to such sentiments and declared their support for the manager, one season later WWFC were back in the Premier League as champions of the Coca-Cola Championship (as it was then).

Throughout Wolves’ time in the top division there have been serious fluctuations between the people backing Mick McCarthy and the people against him, the people arguing that he doesn’t have a clue and the people who believe he’s a managerial genius; the only thing that is certain is the fact that he is the first manager in Wolverhampton Wanderers history to get them to the Premier League and keep them there.

So can the termination of Mick McCarthy’s contract be considered the right decision for Wolves? Could McCarthy have done anything to save his job? Would the club have been above 18th place in the Premier League table under McCarthy come May 14th 2012? For the latter I would like to say yes; however, football is not that simple and as a friend of mine said on Sunday, “There’s no place for sentimentalism in football, it’s a results business.”

Putting all sentimentalism aside and concentrating solely on results, Wolves have taken just 21 points from a possible 75 and achieved 1 victory in their last 11 games, leaving them in 18th place in the Barclays Premier League; a run of form that is likely to put any managerial position in jeopardy. The 5-1 mauling at the hands of West Brom was the final straw; but was the writing on the wall before Sunday’s result?

After the 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool; Wolves’ chairman, Steve Morgan, entered the dressing room to give the players his own dressing down, seriously undermining McCarthy’s authority amongst the players. A move that not only shocked the manager but left outsiders wondering how long there had been such a high level of mistrust at Molineux. Mistrust that may be traced back to the summer transfer window, where the evident lack of financial backing should have been enough to set alarm bells ringing amongst the Wolves faithful. Mistrust that was all but confirmed in the January transfer window as the loan acquisitions of Emmanuel Frimpong and Sebastien Bassong could only be seen as temporary fixes; and the only permanent signing coming in the form of Hearts midfielder Eggert Jonsson.

For these reasons I cannot help but think Mick McCarthy’s Molineux days have been numbered since the final day survival stand against Blackburn last season; bringing me to the conclusion that McCarthy is nothing but a victim of a lack of faith and a scapegoat of the Moxey/Morgan era.

If this decision was inevitable, and McCarthy has been on his way out since the start of the season; I would like to know why it has taken until mid-February to relieve him of his post. This leaves the new manager thirteen games to fight for Premier League survival with a completely new and unchangeable group of players who’ve spent the past five years becoming accustomed to the Mick McCarthy way. From this point, if Wolves were to get relegated; could anyone other than the WWFC board realistically be blamed?

Excusing the cliché, I believe Mick McCarthy can leave Wolves with his head held high; he’s achieved a level of success that has been craved by the Wanderers fans for decades, he won over the majority of an extremely tough audience and perhaps most importantly, he provided Wolverhampton with some of the greatest footballing moments it’s seen in years.

16:44, 18th April 2009; sat on the second row of the South Bank, Molineux; I turned to my friend Gary and said, “I’m having that corner flag.” The final whistle blew, I vaulted the first row and the advertising boards in one jump and bolted toward the corner of the pitch. The corner flag had gone. I didn’t care; a single Ebanks-Blake goal had done enough to see off the threat of QPR. This was our day; Wolves were back in the Premier League. As many others did that day, I ran to the centre of the field to serenade our Championship winning team in what was the single greatest moment I’ve ever experienced as a Wolves fan. Thank you for everything Mick McCarthy.

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