‘You don’t know what you’re doing’, ‘I’m up for a scrap’. No, not the transcript from Monday’s instalment of the Jeremy Kyle show, but instead the ‘bickering’ we have been subjected to between Wolves boss Mick McCarthy and fans of the club in recent weeks.
In true Jeremy Kyle fashion, here’s a quick recap. With the club several games without a win, fans were understandably growing frustrated with the team. 2-0 down at home to Swansea, McCarthy decides to make a double substitution – taking off wingers Matt Jarvis and Adam Hammill, replacing them with Adlene Guedioura and David Edwards. However, some sections of the crowd were less than pleased – cue the chanting from, how Mick described them ‘mindless idiots’. Then, in true dramatic fashion, Wolves go on to snatch a point.
The press inevitably picked up on this, pushed McCarthy for an answer – cue his defensive response of offering a ‘scrap’ if anyone fancied it. OK, maybe a bit over the top from Mick, but understandable.
The Wigan redemption
Anyway after improved performances against Manchester City, both in the cup and the league, Wolves were faced with a ‘six-pointer’ against Wigan. As only my second game of the season, I was understandably nervous of the response the crowd would give the team if we were to fall behind. I have always been a fan of Mick and the tremendous work he did in his early years at the club (of which he was quick to remind everyone when the criticism cam recently).
A couple of early penalty claims turned down, Wigan missing several good chances, the odd misplaced pass – you could start to feel the tension rise at Molineux. Then, less then 30 seconds after Hugo Rodellega sliced an easy chance wide, Kevin Doyle crossed for Jamie O’Hara to put Wolves ahead, easing the tension slightly.
Wigan decide to make it interesting when Ben Watson taps in after seeing an initial penalty saved. A crucial point in the game, it could tip either way. The sides battle it out until half-time, going in 1-1.
Now, a few minutes after half-time and Wigan look to have come out the better of the sides. Do the Wolves fans jump on the back of the players, complaining every misplaced pass? No. Quite the opposite. Cries of encouragement replace the moans and groans, applause from all four corners of the ground, and the sound of Molineux cheering the name of players – that’s more like it. Even Karl Henry, who was jeered just a few weeks ago, was graced with his own song.
Buoyed by this, Wolves go on to score twice and comfortably run out the second-half 3-1 winners – a margin that surely would have been greater had it not been for the heroics of Ali Al-Habsi in the Wigan goal. The point I am making is that it has left Molineux with a sense of relief. The poor run is over, we’ve beaten a relegation rival, and we played OK. The fans have recognised this and have shown their appreciation.
I stayed for a few minutes at the end, to avoid the rush for the exit. What was noticeable straight away was the amount of fans that had decided to stay behind and show their appreciation – something that did not go unnoticed by the players. Stephen Ward, David Edwards, Richard Stearman – Wolves “veterans” who have experienced the ups and downs before, leading the applause in front of the fans. But the one that stood out for me – Roger Johnson. The much-criticised captain running towards the Steve Bull, gesturing to the fans with his arms to make as much noise as possible. And you can see his point, he’s been here a few months now and never really experienced the famous Molineux roar. Just that little taste of it could be the confidence boost he really needs.
So, shall we put the disagreement between Mick and the fans as just yet another tiff that couples go through? It’s been a fabulous love affair between the two, and one that, in my opinion, should continue until one finds the other in bed with someone else. If that bed is the Championship, then fans could well be filing for divorce. But for now, the test results remain positive for Mick.
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