Wolves Preview - Home, 26th
The Championship Play Offs are a real jinx for managers. Having arrived at Molinuex last season and taken Wolves to the Play Offs on a very limited budget, Mick McCarthy has failed to repeat the trick so far this campaign.
A two-one defeat to Watford didn`t help this Irishman`s cause on day one, but if certain Wolves fans have their way, he`d go the same was as Kevin Blackwell did last season. It seems to be easily forgotten in the black country that Wolves are four points away from the play offs, and with just 28 games played. Hardly sacking material eh?
McCarthy`s squad has been subject to a January facelift having spluttered their way through their final games of 2007. David Edwards is a gem and arrived from Luton for 675k. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake followed up this purchase, arriving for 1.5million - both notched against Scunthorpe, and both are ineligible, having played in the Cup for Luton and Plymouth already.
However, McCarthy has had worse spells in football management, at Sunderland his team were relegated with the lowest ever points total, whilst with Ireland, 'Big Mick` suffered the indignity of his captain walking out the World Cup before it began. A captain who ironically began his managerial career with Sunderland! Funny game football.
McCarthy is a man who has built his side with the 'Aidy Boothroyd guide to football management`, or maybe it`s the other way round, but anyway, with a limited budget last term, McCarthy unearthed several gems including Jay Bothroyd [no relation to our Aidy, he insists], Karl Henry and Wayne Hennessey.
Hennessey is one who has done particularly well under Mick and having been out on-loan at Stockport last season, where he recorded a clean-sheet record, the Welshman returned to perform admirably in the Play Offs. It says a lot about the 21 year-olds ability that he has kept one-time 'future England No.1`, Matt Murray out the side this term. He has also won x Wales caps to boot.
Another piece of wizardry from McCarthy was the capture of Michael Kightly. The former Grays winger was plying his trade in the Conference for Southend`s feeder club when he was allowed to join on-loan. Not long after McCarthy was persuaded to part with a nominal fee to make the deal permanent. Kightly has been sorely missed these last few weeks prompting the arrival of Darron Gibson in an attempt to get a like-for-like creative wideman. It worked too as Gibson notched on debut but Wolves were turned over 3-2 by Clarke Carlisle`s Burnley. And it`s not just assists that Kightly provides, the highly-rated young man also adds goals, 12 in his Molinuex career to date.
Andy Keogh might not have been a '1 in every 2` goalscorer since he moved from Scunthorpe United last January, but he has certainly had a better time of it than Billy Sharp who moved at the end of the season. The Eire U21 cap cost Wolves 750k this time last year, having struck 19 in 86 at Glanford Park.
Much like the third round, this is a game Watford will believe they can win, but equally the opposition believe they can win also. It will either be a fascinating clash between two sides going for it, trying to avoid the replay to arrest their league slump, or a game between two sides who fail to get over the league slump - if Ellington and Eastwood start up front, then we`re guaranteed the latter…or are we? Bring on the Duke!
Stop Press: Mat Sadler and Collins John join for 750k and on-loan and are in contention...
Hennessey; N. Collins, Breen, Ward, Gray; Kightly, Olofinjanah, Henry, Jarvis; Keogh and Bothroyd.
Lee; Doyley, DeMerit, Jackson, Stewart; Smith, Francis, Williamson, McAnuff; Henderson and Ellington.