Wolves’ manager Mick McCarthy could not have predicted the backlash that was to come after he fielded ten different outfield players in his 3-0 loss to Manchester United. McCarthy’s side had recently recorded back to back wins in the top flight for the first time in 26 years yet they appeared to surrender the points to champions Manchester United before a ball had even been kicked on Tuesday night.
McCarthy has not earned himself any popularity points with his fellow Premiership managers after one of the odder incidents of the season. Wolves’ second string side held out for only half hour before the inevitable happened at Old Trafford. The result was never in doubt yet McCarthy’s side did their best to hand (literally for the first goal) the Red Devil’s all three points.
Arsene Wenger has recently joined the list of McCarthy’s unhappy compatriots and has lashed out at ex-Ireland manager. Wenger spoke of the incident:
“It’s sad, but what can I do about that? We will compete with Manchester United over 37 games instead of 38. I believe it is a problem for the international credibility of the Premier League for sure, but it’s not my problem, it’s a Premier League problem.”
Wenger’s comments were sparked by his side failing to win all three points in their away fixture at Burnley last night and that Saturday’s opponents Hull City have had a free week to prepare for their game.
This is definitely a tricky one to discuss because there are two clear sides to this incident. The Premier League rules state that managers must field a full strength side in league matches whenever possible and McCarthy has been asked to explain his actions to the FA. There is no doubt that McCarthy had abandoned any hope of leaving Old Trafford with anything to show for their troubles before the game and therefore decided to rest the players that had clearly had a tough, but successful week. I personally do not believe that McCarthy has done a great deal wrong here. At the start of the season each side submits a squad of players for a reason, the squad is there to be utilised and McCarthy is clearly only thinking about the greater good for his side, whether people agree with him or not.
McCarthy has been accused of undermining the competitiveness of the Premier League yet both Wenger and Ferguson have been guilty of this in the past. Although not in the Premier League, last season Ferguson fielded an under-strength side against Everton in an F.A Cup semi final, helping to give David Moyes’ side their first F.A Cup final trip since 1995 and season after season Wenger fields weakened sides in the F.A and League Cup competitions. Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with giving other players the opportunity to impress and maybe these competitions aren’t as important as the Premier League but isn’t there still a sense of the pot calling the kettle black?
There is the unfortunate situation of the 3,000 Wolves fans that travelled to Old Trafford to watch the controversy unfold first hand. The fans chanted ‘we want our money back’ at McCarthy as their side succumbed to defeat with little fight. However, Wolves first choice side were recently struck for 4 at Stamford Bridge and McCarthy is just using his head. He will have marked this date on the calendar as one that he expects to leave empty handed from and I guarantee that people will call it ‘intelligent management’ if Wolves avoid the drop zone come May. Football, and in particular football fans are immensely fickle and whilst I can understand their mentality at the time you can bet that all will be forgiven if McCarthy’s first choice side record a win against Owen Coyle’s Burnley on Saturday. The game is now more than just a relegation six pointer for McCarthy; it is 90 minutes that can possibly rid him of the abuse he has been receiving.