Despite being written off as relegation fodder at the start of the season, Wolves are just a couple of wins away from securing their Premier League status for another year. An impressive set of results, which included a double against Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur, have shown Wolves are more than capable of competing with the league’s best.
Manager Mick McCarthy has yet to keep a team in the Premier League, as his two spells with Sunderland in the top flight ended in relegation and a P45. However, he has remained adamant all season that his side would be able to remain in the league and be able to play alongside the world’s best.
When McCarthy first arrived at Molineux, he stated that the ‘MM’ on his jacket did not stand for ‘Merlin the Magician’. However, if this season is anything to go by, it seems he has cast anti-ageing spells on a few members of his squad.
Wolves do have a relatively young squad with the likes of Matt Jarvis and Michael Mancienne still in their early 20’s. This kept in trend with the club’s ‘young and hungry’ policy of signing players.
It seems the youth has had a positive on the older players in the side, with two 30-somethings vying for the player of the season award at Molineux. Firstly, club-captain Jody Craddock, who is one of the longest serving players in the squad, has impressed throughout the season.
Dismissed as a ‘squad player’ by many at the start of the season, the 34-year-old has controlled the defence as good as anyone in the league. Craddock, who recently took the captain’s armband in the absence of Karl Henry, has also been impressive in front of goal this year. His five league goals, including a brace away at Stoke, have helped Wolves gain some important points.
Just behind Craddock in the end of season award race is goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann. The 37-year-old was brought in on a free in the summer to provide competition for regular number 1 Wayne Hennessey. However, he did a little more than that and has been ever-present for Wolves since he broke into the squad in December.
The American has impressed in his performances, helping keep out the likes of Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Fernando Torres. The fans have taken the enthusiastic keeper to their hearts, with chants of ‘USA, USA’ sure to be heard from all four corners of the ground on a match day.
So, if you have a 30-something in your squad who you do not think will make the grade at Premier League level, think back to “USA” and Jody. The two have been brilliant throughout the season and looked to have steered Wolves to safety. Not bad for two players who were “past it” 12 months ago!
Written By Rob Fletcher