It’s nearly five years since Mick McCarthy first took the reigns at Molineux. The club has seen some drastic changes in that time, converting from a relegation candidate in the Championship – to a Premier League side. A lot of that progress can be accredited to McCarthy, who has been responsible for the vast amount of transfer activity at Molineux these past few years. International stars Kevin Doyle and Matt Jarvis, as well as bargain buys Michael Kightly and Karl Henry, were all McCarthy purchases. After being handed a transfer budget of just £1 million when he first took over, you can’t help but admire the dealings of McCarthy.
But, with more talk of future signings, this got me thinking about the first Wolves team he picked. A bit of research has shown how far the team has truly come since that away game at Plymouth five years ago. Here’s what happened to that side.
Matt Murray – Starred for Wolves in their unsuccessful play-off campaign in McCarthy’s first year. Was forced to retire in 2010 due to a series of injuries, but would almost have definitely gained international honours if it had not been for injury.
Mark Clyde – Another product of the Wolves academy, Clyde was also forced to retire in the middle of the 2006/07 season. After nearly two years away from the game, he joined non-league side Worcester City, where he is currently in a player/assistant manager role.
Gary Breen – A favourite of McCarthy from his time at Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland, Breen spent two years at Wolves. He left in the summer of 2008 and joined League Two side Barnet, before retiring in 2010.
Jody Craddock – A survivor of the early-McCarthy years. Craddock remains at Molineux and has recently been offered a new contract, following a number of impressive performances in defence this season. A firm fan’s favourite at the club.
Lee Naylor – Lasted just a couple of game under McCarthy before joining Celtic, in a deal that saw Charlie Mulgrew move to the Black Country. Naylor spent nearly four years in Scotland, picking up two SPL titles and a Scottish Cup. Joined up with former boss Dave Jones at Cardiff last summer, and missed out on promotion to the Premier League in the play-off’s this season.
Jamie Clapham – Played a bit part in the 2006/07 season, and was transfer listed after the play-off failure. Spent time on loan at Leeds before joining Leicester on a free transfer in January 2008. He was on the move again in the summer of 2008 when he joined Notts County, where he remained until 2010. Joined Lincoln at the start of last season, but was released after their relegation from the Football League.
Rohan Ricketts – Found himself out of favour early on and was sent out on loan to QPR, before being released at the end of the season. A brief spell at Barnsley in the 2007/08 season was followed by time playing in Canada, Hungary and Moldova. Currently playing for SV Wilhelmshaven in Germany, but has been linked with a move back to England.
Karl Henry – Another survivor, Henry was one of Mick’s first signings at Molineux. Went on to lift the Championship trophy as captain in 2009, and remains skipper of the team today. He overcame criticism for ‘full-blooded’ displays last season and is an integral part of the current Wolves side.
Kevin O’Connor – Another product from the youth setup at Molineux, O’Connor made his Wolves debut in the Plymouth game. He also scored in the game, but the goal was later accredited as an own goal. A series of injuries saw his time at Molineux end in 2008 and, after a time away from the game, he joined local side AFC Telford. Now plays alongside Clyde at Worcester City.
Carl Cort – Suffered with injuries throughout the campaign and was released in May 2007. He spent six months with Leicester, before another brief spell at Marbella. He returned to England in December 2008 and joined Norwich, but was released at the end of the season. Cort then signed for newly-promoted Brentford and spent a year-and-a-half there before leaving in January this year.
Jay Bothroyd – A regular in the side that campaign, Bothroyd seemed to be enjoying his time at Molineux. However he found himself out of the side the next season and spent time on loan at Stoke. Joined Cardiff in the summer of 2008, where he went on to become a regular in the side, as well as earning his first senior England cap. Has recently left the club after contract negotiations failed.
Michael Oakes – also joined Cardiff, but retired in 2008.
Rob Edwards – promoted with Blackpool in 2010, recently released on a free.
Lewis Gobern – after a series of loan spells, joined MK Dons in 2009. Also spent time at Grimsby, but is not with Notts County.
Crag Davies – spent time at Oldham and Brighton, won League Two with Chesterfield this season.
Tomasz Frankowski – a loan spell at Tenerife was followed by a move to Chicago Fire. Now playing in Poland. So, there we have it, the first Wolves team Mick McCarthy picked for a league game.
It’s clear that the club have come on leaps and bounds since that day at Plymouth five years ago. Yes, millions have been spent, but promotion has also brought millions into the club. Players have become internationals, the ground is being expanded and the club remains in the Premier League. Mick can sit back and be proud of the work he has done so far.