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Laws thrown to the Wolves

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Phil McNulty | 07:45 UK time, Sunday, 14 March 2010

At Turf Moor

Burnley will discover plenty of opponents only too willing to give them a push over the Premier League precipice in coming weeks without inflicting potentially fatal wounds on themselves.

It was always going to be a matter of who would blink - or blunder - first when the Premier League's poorest defence came up against the top flight's least potent attack at Turf Moor.

And so it proved as Burnley's Tyrone Mears committed the sort of error that, especially when made against your closest relegation rivals, can seal a club's fate as he gifted Wolves their crucial opening goal.

The air of resignation that hung over the ground at the final whistle, and as the assembled made their way out along Harry Potts Way, suggested Burnley's supporters are fearing the worst.

Wolves fans were perched joyously at the opposite end of the emotional scale after a win that moves their side away from the bottom three cut-off point and with a three-point cushion into the bargain.

Burnley manager Brian Laws cursed his ill-fortune, but a meagre total of one point from three home games against Portsmouth, Stoke City and Wolves may prove their season's tipping point, irrespective of Lady Luck's contribution. He might have dreamed of nine points but six should have been a reasonable return - one is unacceptable.

Brian LawsBrian Laws applauds Burnley's fans at the end of the game - but some of them were in no mood to reciprocate

Wolves counterpart Mick McCarthy, whose after-match analysis was as uncomplicated and lacking in frills as the team he manages, simply accepted the good fortune that came his way. And who can blame him? He will feel it was overdue.

Laws has had a tough introduction at Turf Moor after Owen Coyle's defection to Bolton, and he was right to insist his side were not inferior to Wolves. Indeed for spells they were better, but Wolves never looked like making the sort of mistake that put the skids under Burnley.

Clarke Carlisle was the culprit when Burnley lost to Pompey but this time it was Mears who was the villain with a header that never had a chance of reaching keeper Brian Jensen, presenting Matt Jarvis with the first goal that was always likely to prove decisive.

In a philosophical address in the match programme, Burnley chairman Barry Kilby said: "We may be relegated, we may not. Fate will decide." On this evidence the fates may have already taken their decision - and it does not bode well.

Adlene Guedioura's shot was neither here nor there until it struck the unfortunate Carlisle and proved too much for Jensen, who maybe should have done better.

Laws walked into a harsh environment when he succeeded Coyle and it is not getting any easier for this likeable manager. The hearts and minds of some Burnley fans needed to be won over as he was handed a Premier League job just weeks after leaving Championship side Sheffield Wednesday - not exactly the normal route map to a managerial post in the top tier.

The fixture list did not help his cause and the sense around Turf Moor is that this club has still not got over the shock of Coyle not just leaving, but leaving for Bolton. It came as a savage setback and Laws has that to contend with as well as a relegation fight and Coyle's rejuvenation of Bolton.

He was the target for Turf Moor's frustration when he removed the popular Chris Eagles after Wolves' second goal. To say it was not greeted with unanimous approval is putting it mildly. The reaction was toxic, an outpouring of anger that may have been building for some time, not just on Saturday.

Laws declared himself "disappointed" with the crowd's response. Eagles had, to the naked eye, looked one of Burnley's better performers, but Laws almost pulled it off with one substitute Steve Thompson pulling a goal back and another, Robbie Blake, hitting the post. Managers can make or lose a reputation on such fine margins.

Burnley did not lack spirit, but some of the optimism and belief has disappeared from the Turf Moor I experienced earlier this season. Anxiety and fear are their replacements as the growing realistation that this spell in the promised land could be brief hits home.

For Wolves, Saturday's result was a significant step towards extending their stay in the Premier League. Work remains to be done, but McCarthy's prickly and offended reaction to a suggestion that they still could not afford to rest on their laurels suggests their manager is grimly aware of this fact.

As if McCarthy would ever rest on his laurels. And before Wolves fans ask - no, I will never approve of his decision to field the reserves and concede defeat at Manchester United, even if they stay up.

He has, however, fashioned a workmanlike, honest side that looks to have the layers of resilience required to give them a decent chance of maintaining their status. Wolves are cast in the image and likeness of McCarthy, so they will be up for the fights that will confront them.

Terry Connor and MiCk McCarthyMcCarthy (right) and assistant Terry Connor celebrate an important victory

They will not get the sort of favours Burnley bestowed on them too often in the closing weeks of this season, but the realist in McCarthy will know you take what you can get, no matter how you get it, when Premier League survival is at stake.

Kevin Doyle provides an excellent point of attack. He is brave too, as he proved by willingly going into a bone-jarring collision with "The Beast" Jensen, the Burnley keeper launching himself at Doyle like a wrecking ball draped in a football kit. Brave, or maybe borderline foolhardy given the burly figure he was crashing into. When "The Beast" hits you, you stay hit.

Jarvis' goal, meanwhile, was reward for his steady improvement this season that drew rich praise from McCarthy, as well as his anticipation in taking a chance on Mears' mistake. All the good news belonged to Wolves as their elated fans celebrated noisily. McCarthy has never wavered in his conviction that Wolves could stay up, and in that context this ranks among their biggest results of the season.

Laws must hope his and Burnley's luck turns - but there were ominous signs after this damaging defeat that he is having trouble maintaining the mantra of belief he preaches constantly.

If this grand old club, and the supporters who have made Turf Moor such an enthralling arena to experience, are to sample Premier League football again next season that transformation must start away at Wigan next Saturday.

You can follow me throughout this season at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    And before Wolves fans ask - no, I will never approve of his decision to field the reserves and concede defeat at Manchester United, even if they stay up.

    --------

    Interesting report on the game. Shame about this comment.

    You'll support West Ham getting fined then? For fielding a weakened team against Chelsea and conceding defeat?

    And the next time Arsenal or Man U or Liverpool field a weak team in a cup game - or even, as they have, in a PL game?

    No?

    Thought not.



  • Comment number 2.

    Morning Phil, morning everybody. just registered and posting for the first time. Not really a wolves or burnley fan, just wanted to get my first post out of the way.

    would like to say though, i think McCarthy was unfairly critisised for making changes against man u earlier on in the season. theyd just beat spurs away and had man u midweek then burnley the following weekend.

    why send a full team out, maybe pick up injuries/suspensions, and then have players out for the burnley match?

    but the main point being that it was 3 games in a week, so had every right to make changes and keep his players fresh for the weekend!!

    anyway..first ever blog over with...first of many...?

  • Comment number 3.

    "And before Wolves fans ask - no, I will never approve of his decision to field the reserves and concede defeat at Manchester United, even if they stay up."

    Is this because we aren't in the "big 4"? I'm suprised you could bring yourself to watch Burnley v Wolves if im being honest, you only seem to care about Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.

  • Comment number 4.

    To The Midland 20...equally unhappy with Gianfranco Zola's decision. If West Ham are fined then I would not disapprove of that either. I listened to plenty of Hammers' fans yesterday who were disgruntled, especially as Chelsea have looked a little vulnerable recently.

    Love to hear from both Burnley and Wolves fans on how they view the relegation fight now. Huge result for McCarthy's team and a massive blow for Burnley.

  • Comment number 5.

    And before Wolves fans ask - no, I will never approve of his decision to field the reserves and concede defeat at Manchester United, even if they stay up.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I was falling asleep until I got up to that comment above.

    Phil, you have no qualms about the top teams fielding weakened sides in the Carling Cup?

    My own opinion is that McCarthy has every right to field a weakened side when he chooses... its all about priorities. His priority is ensuring points in league games they CAN win, nt ones they can't. Just as Chelsea's priority is Champions League and not the Carling Cup, and Villa's is top four, not the the Europa.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mick Mcarthy is the manager he can select whoever he wants, I dont think it is fair that the top four teams get to field weakened team and lose but yet not get fined like Wolves did.

  • Comment number 7.

    Find it shocking you use the word "defection" to describe Owen Coyle's move to Bolton Phil, as Rafa made famous, look at the facts, Bolton have been in the Premiership for years now, they look like they will survive again, they have better players and also i would say looking at the previous few seasons have a much bigger budget than Burnley. I would have to say all he's done is, for the sake of his career, moved to a bigger and better club that will increase his reputation. I mean i am speaking as a Celtic fan and as everyone knows he knocked back the opportunity to manage his and his family's boyhood heroes, more unknown to fans in England, they a massive Celtic fans but in 1 way we are glad he stayed in England as the Scottish game is poor and he would be better down there. So please, get off his back and and let him get on with his work, and Burnley fans should just thank him for giving them 2 superb cup runs and promotion, plus a great start to their survival campaign this year, but a poor choice of replacement by the board unlike Bolton's, is whats going to get Burnley relegated. Another question i'd like to make is, why are English managers so poor at the moment?, Harry apart, this season has just gone the same as always in terms of young managers being built up and then brought crashing down with a bang, do you think that its time for the FA to have a look at their coaching courses and maybe look at the SFA's methods which is churning out good coaches relgularly and has also seen foreign coaches such as Mourinho and Wenger take a serious interest in its methods?

  • Comment number 8.

    So basically if you're a Big 4 team and you have a squad of, say, 22 international players, then it's perfectly legitimate to make multiple changes to your team and rest players. But if you're a club like Wolves with more limited resources, and you rest players, then the Premier League is ordering you to play your so-called strongest XI in every game?

    It stinks, I'm sorry, I don't understand why every team in the Premiership is not playing by the same rules. We saw what Man Utd did against Hull last season, what they did against West Ham 2 seasons ago, and what Liverpool did at Fulham a couple of seasons ago. They fielded weakened sides and that affected who could have got relegated because they were preparing for what they saw as bigger games for them at the time.

    McCarthy did exactly the same thing for Wolves - but, oh no, he's not allowed to. For me the real scandal of the Premiership is that it's clearly different strokes for different folks. In short I can't agree with you Phil -it stinks. Also how can you say he 'conceded' defeat when he fielded a completely fresh team? Arguably, days after fielding his 'best team' in an energy-sapping game at Spurs, he had more chance of winning at Old Trafford (using pressing tactics and frustrating Man Utd) with a side of fresh players. They are players that are part of the Wolves squad after all! He did not play the youth team.

    And what is a weakened team? Have you only played a weakened team when you lose? If you field players that are part of your first team squad, is that a weakened team? I don't get it, please explain to me Phil.

    McCarthy's job is to manage the Wolves side as he sees fit. Not have to respond to witch hunts or do 'favours' for Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool. After all, the big clubs weren't bothered about the relegation-threatened clubs when they fielded 'weakened teams' at the end of previous seasons, were they?

  • Comment number 9.

    Owen Coyle's move to Bolton is considered a defection quite simply because, for 18 months, he preached togetherness and loyalty. He took a small northern town, down on it's luck, to the heights. He gave the people belief and put a smile on every face, football supporter or not. Then he stabbed them in the back. He sent Sandy Stewart to face the media while he hid in Scotland. He left in the middle of the transfer window and took the entire coaching staff with him, including Steve Davis who we thought bled in claret and blue.

    Brian Laws took on an impossible job and, although I have been very disappointed with performances over the last couple of weeks, I can see there is no point in another change of manager. Burnley's players have done magnificently this season. Every one of them is punching above their weight in this division and it's individual blunders that have cost us recently. The manager cannot be blamed for those. The squad is so small that with the current injuries the team almost picks itself.

    Whether Burnley go down or not, it has been a wonderful adventure and the fans need to appreciate that and get behind messrs Kilby, Flood and Laws and the players. I've seen some very dark days on the Turf and I have never booed. And I never will. These are not dark days, this is a small town club trying to play with the big boys. Mr Kilby could have followed the Portsmouth route and bought some big names. He should get a knighthood for not doing so.

    How many times did Bolton yo-yo before finally getting a foothold? It's the nature of the beast.

    Enjoy the rest of the season whoever you support.

  • Comment number 10.

    Morning Phil,

    I respect the work you do, but I find it a bit unfair you still call it a "defection". This coming a couple of months after your claim Owen Coyle moving to Bolton Wanderers is a "sideways move".

    Even though we were below Burnley when Coyle joined, it wasn't even a sideways move then. We are an established Premier League club whether people like it or not and as we are now showing, we have the know-how of getting out of trouble and avoiding relegation in recent years.

    I don't want to say too much on Megson, apart from thanks for keeping us up, but us Bolton fans feel as if we have got our club back. The feel-good factor is currently in full force. Yesterday was a magnificient result and probably another two wins will see us safe.

    So Phil, looking at the table today, taking into account Owen Coyle getting his first away win as a Premier League manager at West Ham, making The Reebok a bit of a fortress where we haven't conceded in four games, having beaten Burnley and a full 8 points clear of the dreaded drop zone (and of Burnley), which is effectively 9 points when you look at our goal difference compared to Hull and Burnley, do you still think Owen Coyle joining Bolton Wanderers was a "sideways move"?

  • Comment number 11.

    What annoys me when journalists comment on the 'weakend team' against Man Utd, is that they seem to forget that early in the season we chopped and changed our side quite a bit while trying to find out who was up to the Premiership.

    If you look at that team and how many games those players have started this season.

    Hahnemann 16 Premiership starts this season
    Elokobi 9 Premiership starts this season
    Zubar 14 Premiership starts this season
    Hill 2 Premiership starts this season
    Mancienne 15 Premiership starts this season
    Friend 1 Premiership start this season
    Foley 15 Premiership starts this season
    Surman 3 Premiership starts this season
    Halford 12 Premiership starts this season
    Castillo 7 Premiership starts this season
    Maierhofer 3 Premiership starts this season


    I would say that out of that squad, only Hill, Friend, Maierhofer and Surman could be classed as being 'reserves' and they have also got plenty of sub appearances under their belt. The rest of the team were and are very much first team players. Playing 4 'fringe' players on a midweek game with a 6 pointer coming up at the weekend seems to me no different to what every single manager in the Premierleague and indeed football league do all of the time.

  • Comment number 12.

    At least this blog is not about Liverpool, Chelsea, United or Arsenal for a change. Well done for blogging about teams like Wolves and Burnley.

    When will you start singing the praises of Stoke City, Phil, looking like another mid-table finish for a club with a fraction of the budget of most teams in the prem? Stoke not only have a fantastic manager in Pulis, but also the loudest ground in the prem up the brit, duck.

    And for people what say Stoke are boring watch: yer dunner have play pretty passin for be exciting, it's all abate chasin, harrying, tackling, whipping the ball in the box and giving 100%.

  • Comment number 13.

    On the topic of the Wolves side vs Man Utd...stop talking about double standards. There isn't one. There is all the difference in the world between resting one or two key players against a weaker side, and resting nearly an entire first team against someone stronger. The first of these is a tactical move, where the spine of the first team is still intact, and so victory is not aimed at any less but some of the secondary players can gain experience and show their skills. This is not the case in our second sceario, which is basically blatant capitulation. McCarthy was doing nothing else but throwing that game away, and is certainly against the spirit of the game, if not any letter of the rules to do so.

    Before anyone jumps on me, I am a Chelsea fan. I didn't see the West Ham game yesterday, but if they put out such a weakened team as well, then I equally disapprove of that. If Ancelotti or Wenger put out their entire second team in a Premier League match, they'd be equally deserving of criticism in my book.

    The reason why Phil is right to criticise McCarthy over this is because he effectively admitted defeat to Man Utd before the ball had been kicked. And to say that this is the same thing as resting your top players in a Cup match against a team from the lower division is ridiculous. Do we really want to encourage other lower league teams to do what McCarthy did, and basically accept that they are cannon fodder for the big 4? I, for one, do not.

  • Comment number 14.

    The criticism of McCarthy is obviously still a very sore point with Wolves fans but I stand by it, even though I'm not sure it has relevance to yesterday's game. I predicted, correctly, that Wolves fans would come back to me on it though - which is fair enough. All opinions welcome.

    I would, however, suggest that the Carling Cup is a different matter to the Premier League as far as Wolves are concerned. The two competitions do not bear comparison in terms of importance in this instance.

    Burnley fans - has this spell of three home games without a win killed off your hopes of survival, or can you stil stay up?

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm not sure that any of the posters have agreed with your view on the team that Wolves fielded at Old Trafford and nor should they. The fact remains that Wolves did have something to lose, in that they gave up any chance of getting points in exchange for resting players for an easier match at the weekend. If you look at Manchester United's final league game of the season last year, they fielded a weakened team with nothing to lose, seeing as they'd won and instead their decision impacted teams in the relegation zone. The same can be said about a host of other matches for the big four, coming at the end of the season or final game of the champions league group stage.

    So what you seem to be saying is that if fielding a weakened team impacts other people and not yourself, it's okay but if it's hand in hand with a sacrifice of giving up any remote chance of points for your team then you should be fined?

  • Comment number 16.

    I assumed from the moment the Burnley board announced the appointment of Laws that this was an admission of defeat. I'm sure his salary is low, and the board is sensibly budgeting for consolidation in the Championship next season. They can never come out and admit that, but it smacks of damn good planning to me. They never expected a season in the Premiership - they had a few great days such as the win over United; now take the money and build.

  • Comment number 17.

    Ignoring the old, and by now frankly boring, debate about weakend teams as I'm pretty sure everyone in football has an opinion they are not going to change.

    I don't see how "bad luck" can be blamed for the first goal, it was quite simply poor defending. Had that been somone in an England shirt he'd be waking up this moaning to the sounds of his reputation being ripped apart by the British media. Had it been a defender from any of the top 3 teams they would be the but of the nations jokes this morning so to put it down to "luck" is really poor.

    I thought the Burnley fans were, and have been disgraceful to laws this season. He made a decision, that decision lead to a goal to be scored, they almost salvaged a draw. I'd say thats good management. Burnley fans only have themselves to blame if they go down (although no doubt they'll blame Coyle) the support of the home crowd can make the difference between staying up and going down, and since coyle left they have gone from being hugely positive to hugely negative, that (i believe) has had an impact on there players and the performance.

    So what if Laws was a championship manager? So was Coyle till he got Burnley promoted, and Burnley fans should be realistic, who do you think you were going to get? Coyle said there was no money for strengthening and that was part of his decision to leave, he knew he needed reinforcements and wasn't going to get them. You were hardly going to get another PL manager to leave their job for that now were you? And even those who didn't have a job weren't interested.

    Laws was probably the best you could do, he took on the club knowing he'd have no resources and he'd just have to work with what was there, not somthing many managers would do, perhaps had you cheered him for his willigness to sacrifice his reputation in such a way you'd have got somewhere, instead the constant comparisons to Coyle, the constant hate aimed in Boltons direction, the contstant negative attitude have been your undoing.

    I speak as someone who never thought they'd say this ,being someone who thinks Mick McCarthy is an overrated manager who has far too high an opion of himself and the poor teams he puts together and managers, but I'd rather Wolves stayed up than Burnley, it would be harsh on Laws, but quite simply the Burnley fans don't deserve PL football.

  • Comment number 18.

    RE Post 14, Phil McNulty:

    Rather than explain your position, you meekly state that you "stand by it", with a reference to the Carling Cup not being as important as the Premiership (NSS).

    How about responding to poster number 11, who highlights that the bulk of that Wolves team were first teamers? Poster number 8 highlighted that bigger clubs weaken their teams even more (Wolves didn't put out their youth squad): how about Liverpool vs Fulham two years ago, what are your views on that? It might be worth asking a Reading fan for their views, for the purposes of objectivity, before providing your response.

    So then, are we to get a more detailed response than "I stand by my position" and "the carling cup is rubbish"? As a license fee payer, I'd like to think so :)

    And no, I'm not a Wolves fan. I follow the mighty Argyle!

  • Comment number 19.

    I agree wholly with number 18. Why do you think that people defending McCarthy are all Wolves fans? I defended him and I'm certainly not.

  • Comment number 20.

    Every now and again, football throws up bizarre, unexplained managerial appointments.

    Brian Laws in at Burnley was one of them. No track record at that level, sacked from his previous job in the Championship. The only clue is that he did ok on a shoestring budget at Scunthorpe.....but even this was surpassed by Nigel Adkins at that particular club.

    It's Burnley, Hull and Pompey down, for me.

  • Comment number 21.

    First off to Stokerambo...not seen Stoke as often as I would like this season, but rest assured when I have I have been happy to sing the praises of Tony Pulis, the supporters and the club in general. Feel free to check previous blogs!

    And to Andy, post 16...interesting appraisal of the decision to appoint Brian Laws. I am certain it was not done as an admission of defeat, although it was a surprise given that he had just lost his job at Sheffield Wednesday.

    Laws was very defiant yesterday, although he must have been sick inside. I have loved every trip I have made to Turf Moor this season, but I do fear that result yesterday is the one that might do for them.

    To go back to your longer term view, it was interesting to read chairman Barry Kilby's programme notes yesterday. He was not preparing the ground for relegation, but he was certainly attempting to put their progress in its proper context.

    Here are some of his notes.

    "It's been a tough season but I keep telling myself this is a long term thing. We may be relegated, we may not. Fate will decide.

    "We have plans just in case, but I am comfortable that if the worst case scenario unfolds, we will be in better shape than most clubs. We would go down strong and bounce back."

    Kilby still believes Burnley have a fighting chance of staying up, and so he should, but he clearly feels relegation would not mark the start of a permanent slide.

  • Comment number 22.

    Who are you, or the FA for that matter, to claim McCarthy fielded a weakened team against Man U.
    McCarthy has a squad of players, all of whom presumably are considered good enough to play for Wolves.
    So he made nine changes from the team that played Spurs, so what?
    Perhaps he put out a weakened team at Spurs and made the changes to put out a stronger side against Man U., ever thought of that?
    I'm not a Wolves fan, I support West Ham and stupid comments like yours about this and the Tevez affair (I'll show you statistics to prove we'd have done better without him) make my blood boil.

  • Comment number 23.

    Phil I disagree with your reasons for criticising McCarthy, and yes I'm a Wolves fan. And yes, I was a bit miffed about the team that went to OT, but the players that were picked were submitted as being part of our squad so the Prem shouldn't have the right to say who's picked. Other people's arguments above point out the flaws in your reasoning, and so far you've failed to address any of them.

    Moving on to yesterday's game, it was just a fantastic result, and one that bears huge significance for both clubs' season. At 2-1 I was pacing around the room, willing the game to end. Looking a the table now makes for good reading, especially with our goal difference being better than Hull and Burnley's.

    At the risk of putting my head on the block, I think that Burnley are in risk of fading away now, and it appears to me to be a straight fight between us and Hull to stay up. We're ahead right now, but their run in looks kinder, so it's going to be very, very tight between us. I also think that the bottom 4 will remain as they are now, as I feel that Wigan, West Ham et al have that bit more quality and will be able to get out of it.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    "he was handed a Premier League job just weeks after leaving Championship side Sheffield Wednesday - not exactly the normal route map to a managerial post in the top tier."

    you say that phil, but that was the exact same route Megson came along to get himself the Bolton job. But our booing of Megson was apparently out of order, after nearly a decade in the top flight, whereas Burnleys booing of Laws is unacceptable, after only months in the Premiership? Interesting.

    And also, you've made a good couple of comments now since this article has been published, yet you've completely ignored a question which has been asked a good few times now. So i'll try again.

    Do you still stand by your comment at the time that Coyle moving to Bolton was a sideways move?

  • Comment number 26.

    Why are people still harping on about Mick McCarthy's decision to rest players at Old Trafford? In the cold light of day, he thought they realistically weren't going to get anything at Old Trafford that day and wanted to save his best players for games against other sides down the bottom of the table.

    Personally, I feel managers should always field their best XI, but how many times have we seen the likes of Fergie, Benitez and Wenger field weakened sides with an eye on the next fixture? They have all come undone on many of those occasions, but on others, they have come out triumphant even against top outfits in Europe or the League Cup.

    I'm not a fan of Mick McCarthy, but at least he is always honest and that reflects in his teams.

  • Comment number 27.

    Sorry Phil - you are wrong. The Wolves team at OT was entirely made up of 1st team squad members, 8 of whom had had a first pick earlier this year. Several were/are current international players - albeit not with top countries. Mick had every right. This is the worst example this year of the media ganging up on the 'little clubs'. Have other managers criticised? Hardly one. What is sauce for the goose....

    Yesterday was a brilliant result. Lady Luck seems to have turned our way after a season of disappointments - we play well against the top sides for a 'glorious defeat', then have wretched luck against fellow minnows! Notice the gates yesterday? Only 2 exceeded Wolves' average for the season. We take more away than almost any club (most of which - Fulham, Blackburn, Wigan etc - are PATHETIC !) The Prem needs Wolves - same as it needs the well supported likes of Newcastle, Leeds, Derby... rather than Portsmouth, Wigan, Blackburn, Bolton, Fulham....

    We're here to stay. Building slowly, steadily and on a financially sound basis.

  • Comment number 28.

    RE post 14: 'The criticism of McCarthy is obviously still a very sore point with Wolves fans but I stand by it, even though I'm not sure it has relevance to yesterday's game'.
    Then why mention it in your blog in the first place?
    I'm not a Wolves fan (PNE here) but as far as I'm concerned it's no-one's business but Mick McCarthy's what team he puts out.
    Your assertion that the Premier League and Carling Cup 'do not bear comparison in terms of importance in this instance' is a bit flimsy, come on Phil! Football is Football - the same rules apply.
    And besides, as poster 9 says - Man Utd did it on the last day of the season with this team:
    Tomasz Kuszczak, Gary Neville, Wes Brown, Ritchie De Laet, Rafael, Darren Fletcher, Darron Gibson, Danny Welbeck, Nani, Federico Macheda, Lee Martin
    But not suprisingly there was little fanfare about that?


  • Comment number 29.

    Phil,

    I would appreciate if you would answer my question (Post 10) and James's Post 25. Do you still think Owen Coyle moving to Bolton from Burnley is a "sideways move"?

  • Comment number 30.

    Great write up, agree with much of it. Our season at Turf Moor has been defined by several things:

    1. The Budget - our first XI cost about £10m, virtually all other sides triple that or more. Then wages. Even if we had spent more and gone into debt it may have made no difference.

    2. The Betrayal - Coyle leaving left us in the lurch at a critical time. Nobody disputes Bolton have better players and facilities, or that he will further his career, but the timing was appalling and was a grotesque lack of trust. He would have been better leaving last summer to Celtic. He then preceded to take every single member of his staff, including the Assistant Kit Man, which is virtually unprecedented.

    3. The Luck - as yesterday showed, ours has run out. We had some in our 6 wins (2 missed penalties, a bizarre disallowed goal for Hull, West Ham hitting the woodwork, Sunderland missing a hatful first half). We also had plenty last season.

    4. The Defensive Calamities - we have "thrown one in" probably 20 times this season, more than anyone in this Division's history, and the back four and goalie all seem to take turns. We have tended to outplay teams then gift them a goal. We had one of the worst defences in the Championship last year and Coyle chose not to strengthen it other than the purchase of Tyrone Mears, whose asset is going forward (Bikey was bought as a midfielder no doubt). That was appalling mismanagement by Coyle and it looks to have cost us. Laws quickly identified the weaknesses but 2 weeks is not enough to find available quality. In fairness Leon Cort and Danny Fox have flaws defensively but are the only two not to "throw one in" since their signing.

    5. The Crowd - roared us on initially but in recent games following the betrayal are letting us down badly, none less than yesterday. Burnley are now following Bolton fans in abusing a manager who follows a hugely successful one. Laws tinkers more than Coyle and plays narrower but I can't blame him for the goals conceded and we are still scoring. It is a spiral of decline when fans begin to turn and Coyle precicipated that, his honeymoon would have lasted until summer due to getting us promotion, and that would have kept us up.

  • Comment number 31.

    Phil - and indeed all those others who continue to suggest Wolves threw the game away with their team selection at Manchester United.
    Did you actually see the game you are commenting on?
    For half an hour Wolves were every bit a match for United and the home fans were getting quite restless up until the award of a penalty for the first goal. Infact Wolves should have scored first as well.
    I wouldn't call that throwing the game away. The team that was picked was fresh and had far more chance of getting a result than the team which finished the previous game against Tottenham with nothing left in the tank. Hence it was not a weakened team.
    If you look at United's other home results in and around it, a 3-0 defeat actually turned out to be one of the narrower winning margins at Old Trafford. So that Wolves team must have been stronger than Wigan (who lost 5-0), Portsmouth (5-0) and Hill (4-0).

  • Comment number 32.

    To Beano-is-a-wanderer...my point was/is that if Coyle had stayed at Burnley and continued his good work he could have done better than Bolton as his next destination. I did not see what his hurry was to leave Burnley for Bolton. Sorry if you feel that is a brutal assessment but that is what I believe.

    He has done very well since going to the Reebok, which does not surprise me because anyone who has read my blogs about Coyle (one praising him is the same blog that has brought me so much criticism from Wolves fans about Mick McCarthy) will know how much I admire him.

    But I honestly do not believe Bolton is a hugely significant upgrade on Burnley as a club. Who is to say he could not have got similar results for Burnley had he stayed at Turf Moor?

    What I do suspect now is that his departure will be seen in future as one of the most significant reasons for their relegation should Burnley go down.

    I will state happily, however, that I think Bolton have a manager of outstanding promise in Owen Coyle. I have no argument with Bolton fans on that subject.

  • Comment number 33.

    well jimpress you just answered my point, Coyle takes a "down on its luck", "gave you a smile and belief" yet you still hate him for moving on, improving himself, after improving your team, because of Coyle, you will be much better off finacially after your season in the prem, and your 2 parachute payments(and not to sound direspectful, as you may indeed get back up in 1 go as 1 thing i will say is the board have been sensible in transfers), but why won't you allow him to better himself?, i mean how many managers have left clubs in the past to go to bigger clubs?, and i'm sorry to say, but you need to stop looking in the past about Bolton being a yo-yo club, as they haven't been for the last 7-8 seasons, they've been in cup finals, finished in the top 10 a few times plus played European football in that time. What if Coyle stays, and Burnley go down, will he still be in as high demand?, take Phil Brown, 18 months ago he was the up and coming star of english management, promotion then top 3 at christmas, he's won about 7 games since, bigger clubs won't look at him now, and if papers are to believe, do you think Martin O'Neill or Alex McLeish won't take the Liverpool job if Rafa goes??, yet they talk about they're present clubs and what they wanna do with them in the future, as i said, why don't you remember where your club was before to where they are now and just accept the man was great for you's and start giving Laws(again i think was a poor choice) your full backing to stay in the league

  • Comment number 34.

    You say "my point was/is that if Coyle had stayed at Burnley and continued his good work he COULD have done better"

    Could is quite an all encompassing term; I could become rich and famous, Tottenham could still win the Premiership this season. Perhaps you could respond to numerous posters who are intrigued to learn of the reasoning behind your views on weakened teams?

  • Comment number 35.

    Phil actually can't see how Bolton are a better prospect than Burnley. I really want to know what is wrong with that man's view of the footballing world. I'm a fan of neither but anyone can see the difference between an established premiership side and one that is newly promoted, with the most stadium in the league. A couple of years ago Burnley being in the prem would have sounded like a joke. Do you just have something against Bolton?

  • Comment number 36.

    "Likeable" or not Laws was never PL material, his appointement confirmed what Coyle's inability to deal with the clear defensive frialties set in place, one season up for Burnley then back to the CCC.

    TBF to Laws I hope he took the job on a secret agreement that avoiding relegation was a bonus not an expectation and that he knows its his job to stabilise Burnley in next years CCC, but if the board expect them to challenge for promotion they have the wrong manager.

  • Comment number 37.

    If i may quote...

    "Wolves counterpart Mick McCarthy, whose after-match analysis was as uncomplicated and lacking in frills as the team he manages..."

    I take it you have not been to Molineux many times this season, when we have matched or outplayed the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd, lacking in goals is what we are not lacking in frills. I feel this is a poor reflection on a team that can play against the best in this league, but as ever we are put down by typically bias journalism towards the top 4.
    Also with regards to the Man Utd debarcle, at the end of the day football is a squad game and Mick used his squad, just like Sir Alex, Arsene and Rafa do week in and week out and even more so when the cup competions come round, whether it is right or wrong, only Mick knows, but nothing much is ever said when the "top 4" play teenagers in pointless games at the end of the season....

  • Comment number 38.

    Brian Laws is a decent Championship manager, nothing more. The day he was appointed was the day Burnley were set for an instant return to the Championship.

    Burnley are a great club and Turf Moor always provides a superb atmosphere, but as long as Laws remains in charge they are only heading down.

  • Comment number 39.

    He has done very well since going to the Reebok, which does not surprise me because anyone who has read my blogs about Coyle (one praising him is the same blog that has brought me so much criticism from Wolves fans about Mick McCarthy) will know how much I admire him.




    I think there are as many non wolves fans as wolves fans having a pop at you, but your that narrow minded with your view, you wont admit it.
    Anyone who was at Old Trafford on the night of the so called weakened team knows Wolves more than held there own until the penalty. As a UTD fan on here said the home crowd were getting restless. Once Wolves went 1 down. it was an uphill battle. How many teams this season have come from behind to get anything at UTD

    Yesterdays match now. A great result for Wolves yes, Tho if Rooney had scored the Goal Jarvis had then pundits like yourself wouldn't have been having a pop at the defending, it would have been the awareness of a good striker, he still had to get it round the man mountain keeper and put it into the empty net. Burnley should of been down to 10 men if "the beast" had been rightly punished for a tackle that should on show at the rugby yesterday rather than a football field. 2nd goal lucky yes, but about time we had some.
    Coyle moving from Burnley to Bolton is not a sidewards step, its a forward one as the league table now shows. He had his reasons for going to an established premierleague side, with great facilities/stadia. He has turned Boltons season around, and they are now very difficult to beat. Burnley were always going to be in the dogfight at the rear end of the table.With or without Coyle.

  • Comment number 40.

    It is entirely Mick McCarthy's business who he selects in his team, and nobody elses. If he chooses to pick the battles he thinks he can win and keep his best players for them then good luck to him. Managing the team and it's resources is what he's paid to do, and the armchair managers who criticise him (or get paid to blog about it) really have no business questioning his decisions. And no, I'm not a Wolves fan either.

  • Comment number 41.

    "And before Wolves fans ask - no, I will never approve of his decision to field the reserves and concede defeat at Manchester United, even if they stay up".

    I don't approve of this either. But the Big 4 routinely rotate their squad and rest their best players. Why do they not receive equal criticism for this? The rules state all teams should play their strongest 11 so they should also be fined.

    Double standards.

    And as for resting players.... if a pro footballer, with nothing else to do with his life cannot play 2 games a week there is something wrong. If they get tired, rest them from training for a few days. Simple.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm not going to mention the Old Trafford game - I'm sure you know what I think about it....

    ....but I do want to say that I thought yesterday's result has been a long time coming for Wolves. Despite the sequence of results and the lack of goals, we've actually been playing decent football for a while, but not been getting the results. For 79 mins we did an excellent 'away job' on Brum, before getting beaten by our long term nemesis Kevin Phillips, and we've performed well twice against Liverpool, beaten Spurs, drawn at Hull (and could have won but for a last minute goal line clearance), and been well in the game against both Man United and Chelsea. We were poorer at Bolton, but still could have ended up with a point.

    So we've actually been playing decent football, and yesterday, finally, we got the luck to go with it, and the result to go with it too. I think we're quite well set up for the run-in, have got a settled side, a decent defence and just about enough menace going forward.... so I think we've got good chances. We need luck too, of course...

  • Comment number 43.

    #37 Spot on.

    A prime example of that was when Manchester United fielded a weakened side on the last day of last season.

    The opponents? Hull, fighting to preserve their Premiership status. This was surely a far more important occasion than the Wolves United game. Did you approve of that Phil?

    Don't be a hypocrite.

  • Comment number 44.

    I find the weakened side debate a bit tiresome but as a Burnley fan I can't deny it helped MM beat us at their patch. Whether it was right or not is a different issue. Mind you, we were also unlucky in that game that both centre halves got bad injuries, the one Caldwell got in the process of Wolves' second goal is still keeping him out. He may not have much luck over the season, but he has had it in the crucial games.

    I find the Coyle sideways step issues are also missing the point a bit. There is no doubt he had more chance of staying up at Bolton. The moral issue is one, which I covered earlier, and the other is that he may have had a chance of a Everton in stature if he had continued to progress with our limited resources. Now he has to achieve something very special at Bolton, better than avoiding relegation, in order for his stock to remain as high. Just playing good football and keeping them six places from bottom won't be enough to distance him from the McLeishs, the Hodgsons and the Allerdyces. He would need a trophy or top eight.

    Phil is correct - history will blame him for our likely relegation, especially if we only go down by 3-5 points, and that I suspect may be his biggest tinge of regret.

  • Comment number 45.

    One thing at a time...........

    First, why is anyone surprised by Burnleys freefall under Laws? He must be heading for a record number of defeats in one season, and this with two clubs! His record before his dismissal at Wednesday was awful. Yes the Wed team is not good, but Irvine has shown that with a little nous they can get results. Back to Burnley....... Since joining Burnley they have gone from tough to beat at home under Coyle, but with a dismal away record, to just dismal.

    It baffles me why the Burnley board went anywhere near Laws. Unless, they would rather go down than struggle both on AND off the field. That way next season they can trim a few wage packets....... Who knows?

    On to Wolves and those three points thrown at Utd. Let's paint a scenario here...... Wolves need a point to survive, but are relying on, say one of the cup final sides to get three points in a tough last of game of the season. What would their reaction be if the side in the cup final threw out not a smattering of reserves, but a whole reserve side and got soundly beaten? Going on some these posts they shouldn't be worried. I mean it's up to the manager. Isn't it?

    What rubbish.

    It's tiring reading the bleating about big four sides not being punished for fielding weakened sides. Eh? I seem to recall a certain North London side being clobbered for fielding a weakened side before a cup final. Or does that not count as it's an inconvenient truth?

    It's tiring reading the excuses about 'not being a match Wolves could win'. Really? On the back of a good win at WHL and Utd not playing well at the time? How so?

    More nonsense....... 'It's perfectly acceptable to play a load of reserves and it's up to the manager'. On the one hand see above scenario' on the other, no it isn't, as throwing a game is technically cheating, while on the other it can have drastic consequences for the league table. If everyone took McCarthy's attitude we might as well give Utd the league on day one, and just get on with playing friendlies. I'd hate to be W

    Oh, and the FA has always had, and still does, have the right to fine anyone for fielding a weakened side, in any game. On this score, I agree with the majority , in that it should be excercised more often and more widely.

    Why? Because people pay (a lot) of money to see matches and are effectively being ripped off when a side fields a load of reserves.

    Hope that clears that up for a few people. ;)

  • Comment number 46.

    Regarding the accusations of Wolves fielding a weakened team:

    (I haven't read all the comments, so apologies if my point has already been made)

    I find it frustrating that Mick McCarthy has been vilified for playing a supposedly 'weakened' team against man utd. Its a bit insulting to the players he picked who were all members of the first team squad anyway. Its not like a video game, the players dont have numerical stats to show how good or "weak" they are do they? On a bit of a broader note its often subjective as to what makes a good player anyway.

    As for the big teams playing weakened teams in the carling cup, as an arsenal fan, I think its a great way to bring in new exciting prospects, and adds and extra dimension to many games.

  • Comment number 47.

    One thing at a time...........

    First, why is anyone surprised by Burnleys freefall under Laws? He must be heading for a record number of defeats in one season, and this with two clubs! His record before his dismissal at Wednesday was awful. Yes the Wed team is not good, but Irvine has shown that with a little nous they can get results. Back to Burnley....... Since joining Burnley they have gone from tough to beat at home under Coyle, but with a dismal away record, to just dismal.

    It baffles me why the Burnley board went anywhere near Laws. Unless, they would rather go down than struggle both on AND off the field. That way next season they can trim a few wage packets....... Who knows?

    On to Wolves and those three points thrown at Utd. Let's paint a scenario here...... Wolves need a point to survive, but are relying on, say one of the cup final sides to get three points in a tough last of game of the season. What would their reaction be if the side in the cup final threw out not a smattering of reserves, but a whole reserve side and got soundly beaten? Going on some these posts they shouldn't be worried. I mean it's up to the manager. Isn't it?

    What rubbish.

    It's tiring reading the bleating about big four sides not being punished for fielding weakened sides. Eh? I seem to recall a certain North London side being clobbered for fielding a weakened side before a cup final. Or does that not count as it's an inconvenient truth?

    It's tiring reading the excuses about 'not being a match Wolves could win'. Really? On the back of a good win at WHL and Utd not playing well at the time? How so?

    More nonsense....... 'It's perfectly acceptable to play a load of reserves and it's up to the manager'. On the one hand see above scenario' on the other, no it isn't, as throwing a game is technically cheating, while on the other it can have drastic consequences for the league table. If everyone took McCarthy's attitude we might as well give Utd the league on day one, and just get on with playing friendlies. I'd hate to be Wolves lawyers in this era of litigation if Chelsea lose the league to Utd by two points........

    Oh, and the FA has always had, and still does, have the right to fine anyone for fielding a weakened side, in any game. On this score, I agree with the majority , in that it should be excercised more often and more widely.

    Why?

    Because people pay (a lot) of money to see matches and are effectively being ripped off when a side fields a load of reserves.

    Hope that clears that up for a few people. ;)

  • Comment number 48.

    In reference to Man Utd felding a weakened team against Hull last year, the wonderful Jacqui Oatley had asked the FA why Man U werent fined that day for fielding a completely different team and we were for Micks CORRECT decision to rotate 10 of his squad.

    Their respsonse, they were thinking about punishing Man U, but because they won that day they thought it pontless to do so. So basically, you can only rotate your squad when your so-called second string is better than most other teams first.

    If that isnt pandering to the powers of the top clubs, then I dont know what is!

  • Comment number 49.

    Burnley are a terrible team, and Coyle knew it, even when he had a good run of results, he knew they couldn't defend.

    My advice to Burnley is to stick with Laws, take the money from the outing in the PL and buy a defense.

  • Comment number 50.

    Phil good blog as always, however just a couple of points:

    1)Whilst Coyles move to Bolton from Burnley as disloyal, football is very cut-throat for managers and if his burnley side had not won for the rest of the season and gone down, which was entirely possible even with the good start coyle had fashioned, it is very unlikely he would have been offered a premier league job. So he has taken what i'm sure was a difficult decision to further his career, with Boltons' better facilities and bigger budget.

    2) I know everyone has posted with regard to Mick McCarthys' team selection, but I cant understand the hypocricy in giving Wolves a fine when Liverpool and Man U played a weakened team vs Fulham and West Ham respectively in the Blades prem season (06/07). Both lost their respective matches and both Fulham and West Ham finished within 3 points of SUFC. Why weren't Liverpool/Man U fined? I would really appreciate your thoughts on this!
    (And no I am not asking for reinstatement or trying to state how hard SUFC have been done by the Premier League, I would just like your opinion as a respected journalist.)

    Thanks
    Woody

  • Comment number 51.

    Excellent argumentative technique, Nelly (numbers 45 and 47 for extra emphasis). Just repeat what others say and add 'what rubbish'.... Hmmm.....

  • Comment number 52.

    "On to Wolves and those three points thrown at Utd..."

    I fail to see how we threw the game please see post number 11, also please do note that many of the players that played that game are full internationals, have champions league experience etc.
    The only reason why it was highly commented on (and will continue to do so), is that Wolves lost the game, the only people saying we threw the game were those involved and supporters of the other top clubs, Arsenal, Liverpool etc. If Wolves had won the game (and we had our chances before Man Utd scored) the argument would have been very different.
    People, stones, glass houses spring to mind....

  • Comment number 53.

    Oh, and one more thing: hasn't anyone noticed that Burnley's free-fall began well before Coyle jumped ship? Laws hasn't caused a collapse, he's just failed to reverse one that was already happening....

  • Comment number 54.

    One things is clear.

    Most fans, of most clubs, find the "weakened side" thing to be hypocritical.

    The PL were wrong.

    The law is "You've got a squad. Pick anyone from that squad".

    And that should apply to ALL clubs, in ALL competitions.








  • Comment number 55.

    Burnley fan here. I am unhappy about BFC's recent performance record, but I don't blame Mick McCarthy or Owen Coyle.

    Brian Laws doesn't seem up to the job of Premier League Team manager, as his previous record showed.

    So who appointed this inadequate replacement for Mr Coyle?

    I think the actions of Mr Kilby are directly responsible for the lack of leadership and commitment the club seems to be suffering now. The chairman lacks ambition.

  • Comment number 56.

    As The Midlands 20 (no 54) says, most fans of most clubs seem to find the weakened side thing to be hypocritical.

    The really interesting thing was how much support we at Wolves got after the fine was announced - on the 606 message boards, it was astonishing how much fans of teams that usually have very little time for Wolves, or even hate Wolves, came onto our boards to offer their sympathy and support, and even show their anger at the way that the Premier League had dealt with the whole thing. Even many who thought that Mick had done the wrong thing still saw the hypocrisy in the way the Premier League dealt with it, and the (usual) double standards shown to small rather than big teams.

    I'd be interested in your take on that, Phil. Do you think that all those non-Wolves fans - and there were a huge number of them - are simply wrong? That they don't understand football? Or, perhaps, that there's something to be said for the other side of the debate....

    P.S. Notice how politely I'm asking?

  • Comment number 57.

    As soon as I started reading this blog, I just knew I would come across a mention of the case of the Wolves "reserves" against Man U. So instead of stimulating a debate on the relegation issue and Burnley's chances of survival in particular (which judging from the title was the aim) most of the comments concern McCarthy's team selection at OT and I'm glad to say are overwhelmingly against your view. Why can't you let it drop. It's over, it wasn't illegal (even if not universally popular amongst Wolves fans) and has no bearing now on the fate of these two teams in their remaining games.
    I'm a Wolves fan and am not a great fan of MM's one up front policy, but if it ensures the immediate objective of Premiership survival in May, then he will have been vindicated. I still think though that two up front at home would be a more sensible tactic and give us more opportunities to score. After all, we still to win a few games to stay up.
    As for Burnley. It's looking grim. Coyle has been the villain of the
    the piece for sure with his defection to Bolton. His departure has taken the wind out of their sails and they don't seem to have any belief left.I hope they stay up (not at Wolves expense of course), but it's looking increasingly unlikely.

  • Comment number 58.

    This blog seems to be little more than an attempt to reiterate points you've made in previous blogs, Phil. Plucky Burnley against the evil, scheming Wolves. You write as if you've been watching these two teams week in, week out all season, which we all know is not the case. You've also skilfully avoided answering the questions that most posters on here would like answered, as usual.

    a) You're wrong about Coyle and Bolton. Sure, the timing is unfortunate if you're a Burnley fan, but Bolton are a decent Premier League team and with a good manager (Allardyce, Coyle) have European ambitions. Therefore this is a significant career step up for Coyle. It's not as if a team like Spurs or Villa would appoint him right now even if they needed a manager - Coyle has therefore placed himself 'in the shop window' by doing well at a better team than Burnley; staying at Burnley, in terms of Coyle's burgeoning career, would have been a mistake. He will undoubtedly leave Bolton if a bigger club comes knocking in the next few years.

    b) Wolves did not 'field the reserves and concede defeat' at Old Trafford. Please do some research before posting.

    c) Wolves are not a 'no-frills' side. Please do some research before posting.

    d) It's not just Wolves fans who take issue with your criticism of Mick McCarthy. Please do some research before posting.

    e) "...Wolves never looked like making the sort of mistake that put the skids under Burnley..." - until of course they left two Burnley players unmarked in the box, a situation from which they scored. Wolves have also demonstrated an ability to gift goals to teams in other games recently, such as Chelsea, Bolton, Manchester United, and are not as 'workmanlike' and solid defensively as you seem to suggest. Please do some research before posting.

    I recommend watching Match of the Day, or flicking on Sky Sports News every now and again, then you might be able to correct some of these basic errors. MY NAME'S DUNCAN BANNATYNE, AND I'M OUT.

  • Comment number 59.

    "What would their reaction be if the side in the cup final threw out not a smattering of reserves, but a whole reserve side and got soundly beaten?"

    Could you explain how the team wolves fielded was a whole reserve side? Based on the fact that at least 6/7 of the players playing have made regular first team appearances this season?

  • Comment number 60.

    Laws was gonna be fired at some point after he got the job. He has no real track record and the usual football merry-go-round for failing managers got him him the job.

  • Comment number 61.

    There's a lesson to be learned here Phil - look at all the comments and passion about Wolves, Bolton, Burnley. Fair play for not writing about the Big 4.

    I have to be a bit sympathetic to you to start with. I believe you are correct in wanting managers to always play their absolute strongest side, but the reality is that doesn't (can't?) always happen (big and small teams). We on the outside don't always know the facts behind team selection. To me, the paying Wolves fans appear to be behind the decision, and isn't that all that really matters?

  • Comment number 62.

    To be fair to Phil there are many slating him for picking on Wolves fielding a weakend team.

    I remember him getting a rather hard time on 2 occasions this season from Arsenal fans who didn't like the fact that he suggested that he should have gone for a better team in the cups because it was all they could realistically win. Phil critised Wenger selection on both occasions, just as he did McCartheys.

    It is hardly his fault that the FA applied the punishment to one and not both, the FA's history of punishing one act then letting another go is know to all clubs.

    It is a simple fact that to the Victory go the Plaudits, and Wolves lost the match, therefore the obvious critisim is the team, as a UTD fan I thought a better team could have got a point, that may still be required later in the season, from our point of view the title could hang on that match!

    When the media do do a "they won but..." they get berated for that too, so perhaps people should now, after many months, just leave this subject alone. If the Wolves fans were happy to watch their 2nd XI get spanked then that is their choice. McCarthy didn't appeal the punishment, so that is an admission from hit that he did field such a team.

    Get over it and move on, beacuse quite frankly it's all a bit boring now!

  • Comment number 63.

    One small problem with 'spiritualwolfs' arguments.

    First, I don't care what anybody else thinks about Wolves throwing the game against Utd, my views are my own. I read all of one post (probably one of yours) and responded to that. Fancy that eh?

    Second, the views of people on 606 are so 'out there' compared to real football fans I talk to every day, and who actually go to games, citing them as a source of support for Wolves disgraceful action has zero value.

    Far too often I tend to find the views on here are almost as sad and worthless as those who infest 'talk sport'.

    I did say 'almost'........



  • Comment number 64.

    But I honestly do not believe Bolton is a hugely significant upgrade on Burnley as a club. Who is to say he could not have got similar results for Burnley had he stayed at Turf Moor?

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    How are Bolton different than Burnley:

    1) Bolton in premier league far longer than Burnley.
    2) Larger wage budget, Coyle himself stated this.
    3) Although Mr. McNulty can't see this, Bolton are just a better team!
    The defending yesterday from Burnley sums them up. Their strikers don't seem to score and to top it up... Brian Laws.

    Sorry to tell you guys this, but in football... loyalty is not welcome in the sport.

    we'd love to keep anelka, but he had his reasons. Same for coyle, these chances don't come everyday and if you don't jump on... the train will leave. (said Phil Scolari) :)

  • Comment number 65.

    I think Coyle was always bound to sign for another club as he has been impressive with Burnley.

    However Burnley has messed up big time by appointing someone like Laws , who really seems out of his depth at this level.

    They should have invested in someone who could give them a chance to survive as Coyle left them in a very respectable position ( 13th if i remember well).

    By appointing Laws, the Burnley board has shown their lack of ambition and belief in trying to stay in the Premiership.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    Good post Laughingdevil. As you say, Phil (rightly) criticised Wenger's team selection yet that caused nothing like the stir his comments did about Wolves.

    Wolves actions however, will have a direct bearing on the championship race, and that 'roll over' set the tone for too many games involving Utd this season.

    Tbh what seems to have happened is that Wolves fans have manipulated an act of cynicism by their own team and turned it into a crusade for the 'little guys' being picked on by the wicked FA bullies!

    What's sad is, I cannot, and never have condoned Wenger's playing of below strength sides in any competition. It short changes the fans, and damages the credibility of the game. If I can accept that it's not right, why can't they?

  • Comment number 68.

    The FA can't punish sides for fielding weakened teams in cup matches - there's no rules against it as there are in the Premier League. Furthermore, in Cups the "victims" are less direct. As Arsene Wenger said, the league is supposed to be played over 38 games - playing a weak side might make sense for Wolves, but it harms the position of Chelsea, Arsenal and anyone else jockeying with Utd. In a Cup, the team playing the weaker side is running the risk of getting knocked out - there is no "gain" as far as that competition is concerned and it only indirectly affects the other competitors.

    I sympathise with McCarthy and Wolves for actually getting called on fielding their second string against Utd, but it's not a strategy that should be actively defended. Wolves effectively gave up on that game without a ball being kicked - a game in mid-season with everything to play for. If you pardon one manager for doing so in such a high-profile game, it's an admission that you aren't going to uphold the law and an encouragement to other small teams not to bother showing up against the big boys.

    It would massively undermine the league if sides like Pompey/Wigan/Burnley/Hull started playing their reserves whenever they came up against Utd or Chelsea.

  • Comment number 69.

    This isnt a very good blog yoy hardly reply to anybody's questions.

  • Comment number 70.

    Who gives a stuff about the weak team that lost to Man Utd if we scored one of our three golden chances in that game we wouldnt be talking about a fine at all. Fact is we beat Burnley twice this season and we're in a good position to stay up. How can you knock that? On another note Burnley are nothing without Coyle. He had something Laws will never have, and thats why Burnley are going down.

  • Comment number 71.

    I really hope Burnley stay up. And if they don't, surely the amount that they have spent will be a big reason, rather than simply Brian Laws. As for Wolves, I think that any team, and manager who intentionally lose a football match deserve to be relegated. And no, i'm not a Burnley fan. I support Sheffield Wednesday.

  • Comment number 72.

    Who cares what Phil McNulty thinks about Wolverhampton Wanderers or Mick McCarthy?

    Mick won't, I don't and I'm sure most of the Molineux faithful couldn't give two hoots about it.

    Onto the game, Burnley will bemoan their bad luck, but it is about time Wolves got some. Mick has been admant not to be one for bemoaning good luck, but graciously accepted it when it came our way. At the end of the day, in relegation 6 pointers like this, it's about keeping your nerve. Burnley certainly didn't do this, with rash decisions from Brian Jensen (diving out to take Doyle out) and Tyrone Mears, with his error for the Wolves opener. I think credit needs to be given to Matt Jarvis for anticipating the error, and making Burnley pay.

    Super win for Wolves. In Mick we trust, and in Kevin Doyle, we have one of the best, if not the best, players in the bottom half. Can't see Burnley and Hull getting 4 more points than Wolves over the remainder of the season, so I think we are heading towards safety!!

  • Comment number 73.

    If i may start by adding...


    "It would massively undermine the league if sides like Pompey/Wigan/Burnley/Hull started playing their reserves whenever they came up against Utd or Chelsea"

    But didn't Man Utd and Liverpool do this a few seasons ago? (Do they not continue to undermine the cup competitions when the play unknown teenagers in the opening rounds?) So i don't know what the big stink is when the manager of Wolves rotates his squad. (In which he is obliged to do, as afterall he is the manager of the football team)
    And if you had perhaps of been to that game against Man Utd, Wolves had the opening chances and only lost by 3-0, better than other "1st string teams!" this season.
    Like i mentioned before the only reason why it was broadly commented on, is because Wolves lost.

    And finally to quote...

    Wolves actions however, will have a direct bearing on the championship race, and that 'roll over' set the tone for too many games involving Utd this season.

    I do believe the season to be over 38 games and not one i fail to see how this ONE game will decide the winners of the league, unlike many cup competitions.

    Bitter...?

  • Comment number 74.

    SilverstoneWolf

    Pathetic post to be honest, it's a results business nothing to do with the attendances hence why Newcastle got relagated.

    All there fans saying oh were too good to stay up and BOOM look what happend.

  • Comment number 75.

    Burnley will not stay up. And I would love to see Hull relegated. As for Pompey, hard cheese, but they are responsible for their financial errors, just as any business is.

    I'm not even going to comment on 'weakened teams' as the issue is (1) contentious and (2) lopsided when one compares teams like Wolves against teams like Manchester United.

    Phil:
    As for Coyle, don't you think that the move was, and must be, a move upward? Let me provide you with an inverse corollary: Would a Bolton manager, recruited by Burnley, ever think of leaving Bolton for Burnley? Or try this: Would a Bolton player think of leaving Bolton for Burnley? Or try the following: You play for Burnley. Bolton makes you an offer. Surely, you leave Burnley for Bolton for financial reasons, unless you have some serious loyalty-based or familial reason to remain at Burnley?

    Phil, I do accept your point that, had Coyle stayed at Burnley longer, he could have moved to a club that is even better than Burnley. But just what club do you imagine would that be? Fulham? Taken. Sunderland? Taken. Unless you think that, say, Liverpool would part with Rafa and take on Coyle, or that Moyes would make a shock exit (to...again, to where?), where else would Coyle possibly go? I am sure he thought of your proviso: "Hm, if I wait a while, show my talent by taking Burnley to higher levels of performance, if I defy others' predictions that we will be relegated, then I can move to a better club than Bolton. Wait, there are no clubs better than Bolton with vacancies present or foreseeable, so I shall accept the position at Burnley."

  • Comment number 76.

    STOP SAYING THAT THE FA "FINED" WOLVES. It was the Premier League that decided to "act" to "punish" Wolves. I use inverted commas here because really no punishment has been given. A suspended £25000 fine? That's nothing. You get fined £25000 for picking up 6 bookings in a match. If the Premier League really wanted to punish Wolves they would dock points or fine them millions, straight up. The "fine" was a tiny amount and suspended because the Premier League knows it has no case against Wolves and they'd be opening a can of worms. Wolves would appeal against any serious punishment, were it forthcoming, and they would win because we're dealing here with imponderables, impenetrables and unquantifiables. There's no such thing as a "best team" and there's no way of proving it in any court. It's just every armchair pundits' view against every other and there's no way that any charge of a weakened team would stick in any court in the land.

    If you want to criticise Wolves and Mick McCarthy, go ahead, but don't do it out out of an ignorance of fact. I don't like the way that the act of changing a team has been equated to weakening a team - Wolves have a fairly large squad of players of very similar ability, hence the fact that the vast majority of their players have been first choice in their respective positions at some point this season. If you're going to suggest that Wolves could've got something from the Old Trafford game then you would have to concede that a different Wolves starting XI could've taken something from White Hart Lane. Take a look at the teamsheets and results over the course of the season and compare players and results - this backs up my point that Wolves' squad members are all very evenly matched in terms of "ability" (one of our unquantifiables) and performance. Wolves' "strongest" team lost 4-1 to Arsenal, 4-0 to Chelsea and even shipped 5 at Sunderland, so how is the team that played at Old Trafford weaker?

    In my recent correspondence with the Premier League I was told that Wolves' changed team at Old Trafford was different to other instances which I highlighted (West Ham v Man Utd a few weeks ago, Man Utd v Hull last season, Liverpool v Fulham two years ago) because Wolves lost, which is obviously bull because out of those examples both West Ham and Liverpool lost. Wolves are effectively being "punished" for having a squad that is weaker than Manchester United's, which I would move to suggest makes a mockery of the word "sport" itself.

  • Comment number 77.

    Phil, I meant to say, of course, "so I shall accept the position at Bolton and leave Burnley". You still haven't answered our questions on that score.

    Forget about the squad selection issue.

    76, SirWilliam99, is spot on. He's done your work for you.

    Please answer our questions about the 'lateral' or 'sideways' or 'horizontal' move. I think it was clearly an upward move.

  • Comment number 78.

    Putting aside the OT debate, Phil you asked how we now see the relegation situation. Burnley have blown it - whether that was this week or last summer can be debated but it will take a miraculous change of fortune for them to stay up. They will really struggle to pass 30 points and could even be overtaken by Portsmouth.
    Wolves are now ahead of Hull by 3 points and have a superior goal difference. Both teams have several winnable games, but on current form how many points will Hull get - 32-3? Are they really likely to win more than 3 of their last 9 matches?
    So yesterdays win was massive for Wolves - it may not have been our best game of the season but we now have a settled team and can usually play reasonably positive football. 33 points could be enough to keep us up - meaning we need just 2 wins from 9 matches. If that does indeed turn out to be the case then the relegation places will likely be settled well before the last game.
    The gap between Wolves and Hull is now psychologically huge, but if Hull do manage to put a decent run together I still don't think they will catch us. Wolves are playing well right now - more than well enough to survive comfortably.

  • Comment number 79.

    It beggars belief that a Prem. club would install a manager who has recently been sacked for being a failure in the Championship. For me the appointment of Laws by Burnley was many,many times worse than McCarthy's resting of players against Man U. I am almost happy to see Burnley slipping into relegation as punishment - and with Laws in charge fading slowly into obscurity.

    I mean that from the point of view of the Burnley hierachy - the Burnley fans have my complete sympathy for their boards lack of bottle and nerve.

  • Comment number 80.

    As a Burnley fan I marked the Pompey and Wolves games as must-win, but Burnley have been guilty over many years of pulling off surprise results against the top teams (Man Utd etc) and then losing the games against teams in and around the bottom of the league.

    I seem to remember last season (or maybe the one before, it happens that often) Burnley were around the play-off zone and had games against QPR (who were bottom) and Preston (in the relegation zone). They lost both of them and most people I know shrugged their shoulders and said "Typical. Same old Burnley!".

    Brian Laws took an impossible task on. What he needs to do is grab his players by the jacobs and get it into their heads that they're in a relegation battle. It's the Premier League, you're here, now stop admiring the pretty lights and get on with the job in hand, like proving you're worthy of staying up.

    As for Owen Coyle, he's gone. I may not appreciate the manner of his departure but I respect the work he did for us. Bolton's results over the past few games seem to justify his decision.

  • Comment number 81.

    Ah, Nelly, you really ARE sensitive, aren't you?

    And no, it wasn't one of my comments you were rubbishing... if it had been, I'd have argued the points. I generally do. And if you think the comments and mindset of the people who write in and comment on messageboards like 606 are so ridiculous, why do you join them?

    Personally, as a Wolves fan who lives in London, and as a consequence has friends and colleagues who support all manner of clubs from all manner of leagues, I've met and talked to many, almost all are on Wolves' side about the affair. Even the Arsenal fans!

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    " The criticism of McCarthy is obviously still a very sore point with Wolves fans but I stand by it, even though I'm not sure it has relevance to yesterday's game."

    It is totally irrelevant so why on earth did you mention it in a report on yesterday's game. I went to the game and would have preferred a different team at the time but I'm not the manager. Whether it is right or wrong is not the question. The point is why did Man Utd and Liverpool amongst others get away with it and not Wolves! Don't answer as we all know.

    Anyway next time you want responses about a post leave out totally irrelevant remarks. Anyway great result yesterday. Still a way to go but we (Wolves) have every chance of staying up.

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    I can't believe you support the PL's total joke of a decision to fine Wolves. All the comments from people that I've read here seem to understand and appreciate all of the relevant points which make the decision a total joke.

    And you act as if it's Wolves fans who are angry about it. Sure, they are. But as far as I'm aware, fans of most teams are angry about it, even some 'big 4' teams.

    If Spurs were in Wolves' position, and went to Old Trafford a couple of months ago fielding Gareth Bale at left back instead of BAE (choosing to rest him for the next game) along with some other changes, would that be a weakened team? In intent maybe, but what if Bale turned out to be the best left back in the PL over the course of the game? In effect the position wouldn't be weakened. So what, would you still have Spurs fined for "intent" in this case? At what point does this joke descend into utter insanity?

  • Comment number 87.

    phil...instead of pussyfooting round the questions, please, TELL US WHAT YOU HAVE AGAINST BOLTON???

  • Comment number 88.

    I suppose some people have jobs where they can open up a conversation and then leave work before, and without engaging in, the conversation's tides. Lucky you, Phil. As Waugh's Hooper famously said in Brideshead, "Can't get away with that in business, that's for sure".

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    Wolves were penalised for two reasons:

    1) They're not a big club.
    2) They'd won the Spurs game.

    The first is obvious, big clubs regularly do it in the league when other games are coming up yet aren't fined. Is a relegation threatened side influencing the title race by playing a weakened team against Man U a bigger sin than if say Chelsea have won the title and influence the relegation battle by playing a weakened team against Wigan on the last day of the season?

    The second one is less obvious, but had Wolves gone to Old Trafford on the back of a 1-0 defeat would there have been any complaints about them making so many changes. The actual motivation would have been the same, but no doubt it would have been dressed up as him trying to address the failings from the previous weekend rather than a cynical surrender.

  • Comment number 92.

    Dear Mr Mcnulty

    Why can't you grasp that we have better facilities and more money than Burnley? Why can't you grasp that Owen Coyle chose to join us because he used to play for us. Why can't you just shut your mouth and understand Owen Coyle joined us because he wanted to, because he has free will to do as he pleases........

  • Comment number 93.

    'And before Wolves fans ask - no, I will never approve of his decision to field the reserves and concede defeat at Manchester United, even if they stay up'.

    This season Wolves have one objective...to stay up.

    Mick must do whatever is in his control to make that happen. If fielding the reserves gave us every chance of achieving that objective then I applaud him for doing it. Resting key players ensured they were fresh to play Burnley, crucially remain uninjured, and stayed on a high from beating Spurs. It worked, and they won comfortably, and it now looks like Wolves will stay up at Burnley's expense because of this. Is it ethical? Not really. Do I care? Err, no.

    But wait...you don't approve! Oh well, that changes everything then. Maybe Wolves should have been good eggs, and run themselves into exhaustion in a heroic defeat at Old Trafford for your entertainment, leaving a squad of 8 fit players to face Burnley.

    Phil, you must surely be aware of what a greedy imploding monster the Premier League has become. The top 4 are now too good for their own good, funded by money they haven't got, so it's inevitable teams are going to concede these almost unwinnable fixtures to concentrate on the games they can win, to try and save their own necks. Nearly half the Premier League is concerned with avoiding relegation cause the consequences of going down are so grim. Some as we've seen will bancrupt themselves in trying to do so. It would be most amusing if all bottom half teams fielded their reserves at Old Trafford & Stamford Bridge.

    The facts are, Wolves had a small injury hit squad and Doyle has to be played sensibly cause he is our only hope of survival. Mick tried to buy quality, but were outbid on most players, in particular by Portsmouth. In the Summer Wolves signed 9 players...and 8 of them played in the now infamous weakened side, so technically it shouldn't have been that weak. Most of these were no better or worse than the players that beat Spurs, but since our 'first' team put so much effort into beating Spurs, then arguably the 'reserves' were actually the strongest on the day. The bottom line is, whichever 11 we played, we'd lose.

    Burnley had a great start to the season but now appear to be burnt out. Is it really that terrible that Mick saved his players to avoid the same fate, especially when Wolves style of play is through workrate not class.

    Anyway, it will be interesting to see if West Ham weaken their side again against Arsenal on Saturday cause their next game 3 days later is their must win relegation battle against us.

    Up the Wolves!








  • Comment number 94.

    Phil and I quote you directly, "But I honestly do not believe Bolton is a hugely significant upgrade on Burnley as a club"

    Please explain the metrics you are using to justify this statement?

    "Who is to say he could not have got similar results for Burnley had he stayed at Turf Moor?"

    Answer is quite simple, because their first 11 is not a patch on Bolton's first 11.

    Phil - I think you are perfectly entitled to your opinion, however much I disagree. However, I find somewhat perverse considering you are paid to do it, particularly when we look at how the BBC is funded - ie by the tax payer.

    I have mates who are struggling to feed their wife and kids in this economic climate, and one or two could easily turn their attention to sports journalism. And quite frankly, it would be nice to see a more balanced view on the BBC for a change. Perhaps they could go on to infect others - i.e. the editor of Football Focus, and Match of the Day would be very good starting points.

    Any chance you could let a couple people who are desperate for a job have a bash Phil? They would cost significantly less than the incumbents and one thing I do know for sure, I believe the BBC are looking for some drastic cost reduction excercises.

    My suggestion strategically fits the enterprise wide cost cutting exercise don't you think Phil?

    Be interested to see your repsonse.

  • Comment number 95.

    "As if McCarthy would ever rest on his laurels. And before Wolves fans ask - no, I will never approve of his decision to field the reserves and concede defeat at Manchester United, even if they stay up. "

    Hi Phil, your comment is an untruth and I am extremely dissappointed. If you look at the team sheets for the 2 games either side of the United match you will see McCarthy didn't select the reserves he selected only first teamers. There was no one new in the squad as far as I can recollect and those who played against United either played or were on the bench in previous and subseqent matches. So you are either wrong or happily peddaling contraversy for the sake of it.

    "The criticism of McCarthy is obviously still a very sore point with Wolves fans but I stand by it, even though I'm not sure it has relevance to yesterday's game"

    As I have just pointed out, you can't actually stand by it, you are incorrect to do so as it's plainly untrue. If it has no relevance to yesterdays match what is it doing in your blog?

    Let me just state for the record I am a United fan, I am annoyed at McCarthy playing a weaker team ( not the same as the reserves) against United. If we win the league everyone will harp on about that one game. But there is a huge hypocrisy and an enourmous amount of plain fibbing going on now in football journalism. Just because a large part of football fans read the red tops is no excuse for being disengenuous. So much for the high standards.
    If you look at a white wall and keep shouting at it, that it's blue, it will always be a white wall.

  • Comment number 96.

    Burnley's appointment of Law's was one which lacked ambition, with Kilby ignoring 'Premier class managers' who would no doubt command big salaries and would want a substantial transfer kitty. If Burnley fans can make Turf Moor a fortress again they still have a chance for survival.

    Phil, I can't understand why you want to antagonize both sets of Wanderers fans (Bolton & Wolves)?

    Bolton is a step up, in the same way West Ham (as much as I don't want to admit it) is a step up from Bolton.

    Re. Wolves. I can't think of one club that hasn't fielded a weakened side at some point. I remember Man Utd fielding a weakened side in the last game of the season V Hull. If Hull had won the game and Newcastle had beaten Villa would Man Utd have been fined? Probably not.

  • Comment number 97.

    When will you drop it! To the date, it is now a whole 3 months since the game at Old Trafford, yet you still have the gall to keep trying to us it against us. You patronise aswell, by saying it is a sore point with some Wolves fans. The reason for this is you keep bloomin using it against us!!!

    Cerca, end of last season, Hull v Manchester United. One of Hull's biggest day's in their history, attempting to stay in the Premier League at their first attempt, against a United side with one of their biggest games in a long long time, a chance to retain the biggest club trophy in the world, just 4 days away. A weakended side put out by Fergie, not questioned, obviously, which COULD have had a huge effect on what happened down the bottom of the table. So exactly the same 'offence' but no fine, no disrepute claim, no media forray into the values of Ferguson's management.
    In my honest opinion, if we werent playing United, or any of the big four for that matter, it wouldnt have been an issue with you. You may have mentioned it, but you wouldnt be using it as some sort of vendetta against us each time us write an article about us.

    So please, for the love of the maker, just drop it, we have been fined for using our squad, the matter is dead in every other corner of the media, why cant you just let it die?

    Oh by the way, 'At 10:13am on 14 Mar 2010, revorgm wrote' quite a coincedence you didnt respond to this comment.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    Fielding a weaker team against Man U is not what football's about. The whole point of being in the Premiership is to beat these teams. It was pathetic to field a weak team and accept defeat. Disgraeful in fact. What's the point of being in the Premiership if your just gonna get wins at Turf Moor, and not bother at Old Trafford?

    What a loser McCarthy is - and everyone who supports that decision

  • Comment number 100.

    And before Wolves fans ask - no, I will never approve of his decision to field the reserves and concede defeat at Manchester United, even if they stay up.
    ----------------------------------------------
    I am with Phil on this and I am pretty clear about the reasons. Although teams from big 4 also do this in cup matches, there is a big difference in their approach and that of MM. Big teams make changes in cup games to give rest to their main players "but with the realistic expectations of winning, because they think that even their B team is good enough to win the match." Also, even the big teams normally don't make 10 changes. MM, on the other hand, had the defeatist approach. He went to Old Trafford to lose the game. Even with his best XI he was not expected to win, but he could have at least given the impression that he was ready to fight. I fear for the league if the other lesser teams start following MM philosophy.

 

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