McCarthy Expecting Wolves Backlash Following Rare Defeat
Friday, 26th Jan 2018 20:34
Town boss Mick McCarthy is expecting a backlash from his old club Wolves when they visit Portman Road on Saturday, the Championship leaders having fallen to a rare defeat - only their fourth in the league this season - at home to Nottingham Forest last weekend.
“They’re not used to losing league games,” said McCarthy, whose team are 12th, six from the play-offs and 22 behind tomorrow's opponents.
“Or any games, to be honest. What have they got 62 points, nine points clear of everybody else? They are a very, very good side.
“I’ve watched our game at Molineux back when we played against them [when it ended 1-0 to Wolves] and we were excellent in that game, without the ball.
“We stopped them and we blinked just before half-time and they scored. It was a good finish, but they shouldn’t have got that opportunity.
“What we didn’t do was we didn’t create enough chances ourselves, we weren’t good enough with the ball, which has been unusual because we’ve scored a lot of goals this season.
“So, we have to play exactly the same in terms of stopping them creating that many chances because they didn’t have that many, but we’ve got to do better ourselves with the ball.”
McCarthy says he has watched the Forest game and has assessed what brought the Tricky Trees their 2-0 success.
“Give Aitor Karanka and his team the plaudits, no doubt,” McCarthy said. “But I saw Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s comments as well, saying that they didn’t play well.
“And they didn’t, it looked like one of those games, that final third, where they’ve been really slick, they didn’t even get a chance of a shot.
“Forest were excellent, they were very, very good and took their chances. And it happens, it’s very rare a team’s going to go through and keep winning all their games, whether they let their guard down, whether they are physically or mentally knackered, whether they were just feeling it.
“There are a lot of foreign players who have come in and have had to play over Christmas and that’s unusual for them.
“All those things could be put in the mix for a reason why. But, of course, I watched how others have played against them.
“It could have been so different at Molineux, we don’t let out guard down, we get one from a corner or a freekick or a break and it ends up 1-0 to us. It could have been so different. They were relieved to get away with 1-0, I think.”
Prior to the Forest reverse, Wolves drew their previous Championship game at Barnsley 0-0, a match sandwiched by an FA Cup draw, also goalless, and then defeat, 2-1, to Swansea.
In the context of their season, their fans have started to worry that having gone four games without a win they might be going into a tough period of their campaign, something even league-winning clubs go through, as McCarthy knows well from the 2008/09 season when he took the Molineux club to the Championship title.
“If you’ve been as good as they’ve been all year from the start that is a difficult spell, I guess.” McCarthy reflected.
“I think ours was 13 games and we still won it by seven points with 90 points.
“We really found it difficult. TC and myself were talking about it this morning, it was incredible. We just couldn’t see a win coming from winning seven on the bounce twice.
“It was really tough. Who knows why that was. Was it after Christmas the number of games or other teams start to play better against you, because you’re the top team, they want to stop you?
“And we ended up getting two really scruffy wins at Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday and then we went back again. I’m hoping they don’t get a scruffy win here tomorrow.”
Going back to last week’s 1-1 draw at Bolton, McCarthy said afterwards that he wondered whether fans had expected Town just to turn up at the Macron Stadium and win at a canter.
Expanding on those comments, he said: “I took the view that I was being asked a question whether a point was a bad point because of the game and how we played. I think you know me by now and that I’d take a point from any away game ever.
“I don’t see that going to the teams at the bottom of the league that we’re that much better than them that we should just go to Bolton and Burton and Birmingham and Sunderland and roll them over, because it’s just not going to happen.
“I seem to remember when we were bottom of the league here with seven points after 13 games, we smacked a few of them at this place. Crystal Palace and Leicester towards the end of the season came to ‘lowly Ipswich’ and got their arses kicked.
“That’s my point. My expectations are to be in and around that top six, whatever the fans’ expectations are.
“I tell you what I expect of them is to come and support the lads, get behind them, make a noise, make it a good atmosphere.
"And I’ve always said, if we struggle and we don’t play well, whatever they do at the end of the game, they can boo all they like.
“But in the meantime, get behind them, generate a good atmosphere. Let’s have the atmosphere like we had against Leeds, let’s have that kind of performance and we’ll have that kind of result. That’s what I expect.”
Wolves have spent the week in Spain for warm weather training, something which McCarthy says isn’t available to the Blues.
“Haves and have-nots,” he said. “They’ve had a £30 million bid turned down for a player apparently.
“Going to Spain, the owner probably drops that when he’s running for a bus! That amount of money, that’s no problem to him, is it? No, we’re not going to do it. We’ll be all right freezing our gings off. Don’t worry about us.”
Bartosz Bialkowski, fresh from signing a new contract, will be in goal with Jordan Spence set to return at right-back following his suspension with Dominic Iorfa unavailable against his parent club.
Jonas Knudsen will be at left-back with skipper Luke Chambers and the first of two home debutants, on-loan Spurs man Cameron Carter-Vickers, alongside him.
Stephen Gleeson, making his full and home debuts for Town, will take up the injured Cole Skuse’s regular role in midfield alongside Callum Connolly.
Bersant Celina, David McGoldrick and Martyn Waghorn will again be the trio behind lone out-and-out striker Joe Garner.
Wolves have left-back Ruben Vinagre available after a three-match suspension and no new injuries with right-back Phil Ofosu-Ayeh a long-term absentee with an ankle problem.
Boss Nuno says he and his staff learnt a lot about the Blues from the match at Molineux.
"We have a lot of information from that game so we will analyse them and we will know what we are going to find," he told the Shropshire Star.
“They’re a team that plays hard on defence, a lot of situations man-to-man, they’re strong and aggressive.
“We have to match those situations and put our ideas on the pitch, play good football and try to break them.
“At the same time we have to be organised and defend well because everything starts from there. Good defensive organisation is what gives you results."
The teams are fairly evenly matched over the years, Town winning 29 times (28 in the league), Wolves 28 (25) and with 25 games (22) ending in draws.
Just before Christmas at Molineux, Ivan Cavaleiro’s 40th minute goal saw Wolves a 1-0 victory over the Blues.
Town contained the Championship leaders until five minutes before the break and despite showing more attacking intent in the second half rarely looked like taking anything from the game.
Both last season’s games between the clubs ended goalless. In March at Portman Road, Town recorded a fifth consecutive draw.
The visitors came closest to breaking the deadlock late on when Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Ben Marshall both struck the woodwork.
Ineligible Town loanee Iorfa joined Wolves from Southend as a schoolboy. The 22-year-old has made 91 starts and two sub appearances for his parent club.
New Blues midfielder Gleeson joined the academy at Molineux at 16 but had made only one senior start and four sub appearances when he moved on to the MK Dons, where he had been on loan, in the summer of 2009.
Blues manager McCarthy was the Wolves boss between July 2006 and February of 2012, helping them to the Championship title in 2008/09.
Town assistant boss Terry Connor fulfilled a similar role during McCarthy’s time at Molineux – having joined the club in 1999 under John Ward’s management - before briefly taking over as manager himself after McCarthy’s departure.
After a similarly short spell as his successor Ståle Solbakken’s assistant, he left Molineux four games into the 2012/13 season, rejoining McCarthy at Town in the November.
The Blues’ director of football Dave Bowman and scout Ian ‘Taff’ Evans were also both at Molineux until they followed McCarthy and Connor at Portman Road.
Wolves centre-half Ryan Bennett was an academy schoolboy with Town before being released at 16.
Winger Jordan Graham, who recently returned from a loan spell at Fulham, was on loan with the Blues from Aston Villa between November and December 2013, making two sub appearances.
Saturday's referee is Simon Hooper from Wiltshire, who has shown 85 yellow cards and three red in 27 games so far this season.
Hooper’s most recent Town game was the 2-1 win at Burton Albion in October when he booked Chambers, Skuse and Celina - for his shirtless goal celebration - as well as one Brewer.
He also refereed the previous month’s 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City in which he yellow-carded Knudsen, Garner and one Robins player.
Prior to that he in charge of the 1-1 draw at home to Preston in January 2016 when he showed yellow cards to Brett Pitman and three Lilywhites.
In the preceding September he was the man in the middle during the 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Manchester United in which he booked only Jonny Parr.
Before that he refereed the Blues’ 2-0 home victory over Burnley at Portman Road in August of the same year in which he yellow-carded visitors’ winger Michael Kightly and no one else.
Hooper officiated in the 1-0 defeat at Reading in August 2014 in which he booked Tommy Smith, Tyrone Mings and Christophe Berra and two home players.
He also took control of the 1-0 win at Yeovil the previous season and the 3-0 home win against Crystal Palace in April 2013.
Probable squad: Bialkowski, M Crowe, Spence, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Carter-Vickers, Webster, Connolly, Hyam, Bru, Gleeson, Ward, Celina, McGoldrick, Waghorn, Garner, Sears, Drinan.
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