I am currently supporting a club divided.
From the stands to the pitch and the dug-out, Wolverhampton Wanderers as a whole is fragmented.
Standing in the Southbank on Saturday was one of the most hostile occasions I’ve seen from sections of our fans towards any Wanderers team in the 25 years of being a Wolves supporter. I was embarrassed to be among it, as much as I was embarrassed to steal a point from the game.
I hate to say it but I now feel there are a proportion of fans that Mick McCarthy has lost and won’t get back on side again. I must confess two things; firstly I am part of the ‘Stick with Mick’ crew and secondly for the first time on Saturday I questioned that decision.
There are many of the club’s followers who have their reasons for not backing Merlin (remember those days when he had that affectionate nickname) and some stem from the understandable ‘he was a defender and the defence are rubbish’ to the ridiculous ‘he’s arrogant and wants to punish the fans.’ Either way no manager has caused so much polarized opinion in the club’s history – and possibly the Premiership’s – from his own supporters than McCarthy.
So close to relegation last season, the poor form of the newly elected captain Roger Johnson, fans evicted from seats for frequently standing-up or because it’s occupied by a building site; no wonder people aren’t feeling comfortable when upturn is so apparent.
For me McCarthy is the right manager for Wolverhampton Wanderers and I’m more than happy to explain why. Those fans that have been disgruntled and booed and been on the sharp end of players criticism – as much as the players themselves – are right to question the management and its players when five-games are lost in a row. Of course we are and as disheartening it is to the squad within reason no-one would knock Wolves fans for doing so. But a chorus of boos, calling for your own manager to be ‘sacked in the morning’ and demands the chairman ‘f**k him off’ is not within reason. Also sarcastically cheering the substitution of the captain who lifted your last trophy – namely the inform Karl Henry – and even going to the lengths of supporting an opposing player who openly criticised and mocked said player in the national media – that being Joey Barton.
One Man United fan hit it on the head for me he said ‘Wolves fans go-on chanting they support their local team well it doesn’t look that way to me.’
Reading tweets from journalists at Molineux on Saturday the word they used to describe McCarthy was ‘confrontational’ a feeling understandable after the abuse he had suffered during the game. It’s for this reason I believe he is a man whose pride is stung and is determined to put things right. At the same time there will be a percentage of fans who feel their ‘abuse ‘ was justified and I as said within reason accountability must be taken. But as fans talk among themselves and staff and management do the same each about the other party it is all well and good saying to an extent what they really feel in the newspapers but this only leaves the fans only too happy to oblige with a response in the stands in the form of boos and negative chants.
So how do you deal with this? Well you can win a few games for a start (only Manchester City away next week) or fans and club can sit down and get it all out in the open.
Is this the only solution to get most fans onside?
I believe Wolverhampton Wanderers, Steve Morgan, Jez Moxey, Mick McCarthy and players could really do themselves a favour by cutting out the middle man of the newspapers and talking directly to the fans in an open Q+A session.
It is time that these two ‘beasts’ met where fans and club staff can put their grievances about each other out there in the correct vicinity.
What the Q+A would do is allow the club eradicate groundless rumours and speculation about the club – that only serves by adding fuel to the fire of fans anger towards the club – and at the same time open Wolves up to speak of the affect the negative chants are having on players without seemingly moaning to the press about it. Would Johnson’s comments about the fans booing Henry came across less confrontational if said in an open forum rather than on the back pages of a newspaper? Almost certainly.
What harm would such a session do? I struggle to find any more damage it could inflict. I’m sure pals of mine would love to hear Morgan answer why more money has been spent on building a potential ‘old gold elephant’ when the team are scraping home draws against Swansea City.
At the same time what better opportunity for McCarthy to say ‘I can’t play so-and-so because of this reason’ or ‘I need you to have faith in what I’m doing.’
Allowing the club to clear the air with the punters would also feel as though our fans’ views are being heard by those who make the decisions but also for management, board and players to share their mentality and approach to the game and business they conduct.
As stated earlier there is proportion of fans I feel McCarthy won’t get back but there are a hell of a lot that support him and are there to be won. For Wolverhampton Wanderers the bridging of this divide is very much in their hands.