In the aftermath of Mick McCarthy’s controversial decision to make 10 changes to his Wolverhampton Wanderers side for their trip to Old Trafford a few weeks ago, many have had their say. The Wolves fans sang for their money back. Arsene Wenger claimed the Premier League’s reputation had been damaged. Tony Pulis told Wenger to back off, for McCarthy had done nothing wrong, in his opinion.
But one man stayed quiet.
Steve Morgan, the Black Country outfit’s Chairman, has made no public remark about his employee’s choice to tackle the reigning champions without any of the outfield players who had battled so magnificently to win three points at Tottenham in their previous match. Some have argued that this highlights Morgan’s displeasure at McCarthy’s rotation system. Rather it should be viewed as an act of solidarity.
A manager should be allowed total control of football matters. It is a lesson so finely demonstrated in the West Midlands over the past few weeks. Some clubs would have wilted at the fans’ demand for a refund (I know how frustrating it was to witness that team selection as I was in the away end at Old Trafford). While this would have been a nice gesture at the time, it would have sent the wrong message. It would have hinted at unrest behind the scenes. But McCarthy knew this was his decision to make. He knew that Morgan would trust his judgement.
Ever since Morgan arrived in the spring of 2007, McCarthy has been given a free reign. It was feared that as the Yorkshire man was already in place when the club was taken over, Morgan would want his own man. Quickly, the Scouser realised that ‘Super Mick’ was his man, even if he didn’t appoint him. Despite a mediocre first season as a partnership, which involved a new contract offer after interest from South Korea, the pair stayed together and promotion was won during their second campaign.
Without this control, success on the pitch is almost impossible. Two clubs with contrasting fortunes in recent seasons are Stoke City and Queens Park Rangers. Last month both witnessed alleged bust-ups between management and playing staff. While Pulis was backed by his board and allowed to carry on with his fine work, Jim Magilton was sacked as the West Londoners looked for their 13th manager in three seasons and continued to underachieve.
So forget all the claims about this episode being a travesty for football. It was the manager’s side to pick, from his squad of players. Morgan’s ‘no comment’ stance should be applauded. He may have been surprised by the team selection. He may not even have agreed with it. But he knows Mick McCarthy needs to rule the roost for the best chance of success.
Written By Danny Sanderson