Sometimes there is such a thing as the right manager for a football club and right now Tony Pulis is without doubt the right man for Stoke or at very least he is the right manager for stoke right now! But could the same be said of Mick McCarthy at Wolves? Would it be right for Wolves to stick with the former Republic of Ireland boss irrespective of what division they are playing in next season?
Both Tony Pulis and Mick McCarthy have been in charge of their respective teams since the summer of 2006 and there is no question that Stoke have made fantastic progress during that time. In his first season in charge Stoke just missed out on the play-offs and finished in 8th place in the Championship. However, in the following season Stoke finished second in the Championship and were promoted to the Premier League.
Since being promoted to the Premier League Stoke have gone from strength to strength; their playing style wasn’t given a chance in the Premier League – but they have proved their doubters wrong by sustaining in the top flight. In their first season in the top flight they survived with something to spare and finished in 12th place. In their second season they somehow avoided the traditional second season slump; sides often experience in their second season in the top flight and finished in 11th place. And this season has been the most impressive which has seen the club featuring in the top half of the table, reach a FA Cup final and qualify for Europe, Stoke currently sit in 9th place in the Premier League table with just a game to go. Stoke really have become the model for newly promoted teams and they prove getting promoted from the Championship and sustaining in the Premier League is possible.
However, could the same be said of Wolves and despite the fact they are still in with a shot of survival are they really still progressing under the management of Mick McCarthy? Well in Mick McCarthy’s first season as manager, Wolves did well to reach the Championship play-offs but they lost out with Derby winning the play-offs that year. The following season they suffered the traditional play-off hangover and failed to build in their previous season and in the end missed out on the play-offs altogether. However, in McCarthy’s third season Wolves really excelled themselves and ending up winning the Championship and earning their place in the Premier League.
The following season Wolves did well to survive in the Premier League but still had a relatively low points tally with 38 points. This season they are currently just above the drop zone with just one game left and will probably need to win to keep their place in the Premier League. So Wolves will need to decide if Mick McCarthy is moving the club in the right direction. There doesn’t seem to have been a huge amount of progress despite some money spent on the team. The most significant summer signing was Steven Fletcher for £6.5m, but in Premier League terms the transfer money spent on players this season has been relatively low.
I think there are arguments for and against Mick McCarthy. On one hand Wolves can look to Tony Pulis and Stoke and feel that keeping faith with the manager can reap rewards and most long term successful teams have a long serving manager. However, if Wolves were to be relegated on the last day of the season – they would be playing Championship football next season. Many teams struggle to adapt to the Championship after relegation from the top flight and going from losing many games to expecting to win every game can be a difficult transition. However, drafting in a new manager will come at things fresh and might be able to re-motivate the team. This is something Mick McCarthy may find difficult especially if he lost key players like Kevin Doyle, Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis.
So should Wolves take the example of Stoke and stick with their manager or would a change benefit the team?