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"Merlin" casts magical Molineux spell

Championship Wolverhampton Wanderers
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Mick McCarthy - pointing to the Premiership?

When Mick McCarthy meandered into Molineux, he pointed at the two white letters on his training jersey and proclaimed: "At the moment we've only got 16 first-team players and my initials stand for Mick McCarthy, not Merlin the Magician."

But eight months on, me and the Molineux masses are simply spellbound.

Since a humbling and potentially crushing January FA Cup exit at the hands of West Bromwich Albion, Wolves have quietly and confidently climbed into the Championship play-offs. McCarthy's transfer gambling has hit the jackpot.

Pre-season despair hung in the air as Wolves adjusted to life without Premiership parachute payments and attempted to recover from the desperately unsuccessful Glenn Hoddle era.

But that fog of stagnation and decline has been slowly, and then very rapidly, blown away.

While the football world rightly homes in on Sunderland's surge towards the Premiership, their former manager has rewritten the rulebook at Molineux.
Big names, inflated wages? Forget it! Players that are young, talented, hungry, homegrown or "cheap".

That's the Wolves masterplan under McCarthy - and life for me as a Wolves fan has rarely felt better.

I started watching Wolves in February 1977, beginning a 30-year odyssey of mainly despair.

Ok, there was Steve Bull's 300-odd goals, two Wembley wins, a 1984 victory at Anfield when we were bottom and Liverpool were top, winning promotion to the Premiership via a memorable day at the Millennium Stadium, terrace heroes Paul Ince and Alex Rae, coming back from three-down to beat Leicester, and the defensive slip which allowed Kenny Miller to, how Molineux shook that day Manchester United were toppled.

But it's been mainly despair.

Forget about these people saying we are dark horses for promotion or coming up on the rails. We are contenders for promotionWolves boss Mick McCarthy

Once was bad enough, but twice in four years, my Wolves went bust. The only way was down as relegation from the first division was followed by relegation and relegation. And talk about kicking a teenager when he was down....along came Chorley in the FA Cup.

With half the lop-sided ground condemned as a fire risk, Graham Turner began the slow process of dragging my carcass of a club back to something resembling respectability.

Nineteen years later, we made it. It was all aboard the Premiership gravy train, but after spending millions on failure, Wolves decided they weren't even prepared to gamble on a standard class ticket, let alone first class. They gave Dave Jones the steering wheel, but wouldn't release the handbrake.

An unmitigated disaster, punctuated by that win over United. Slaughtered by Chelsea, we were even crushed by Southampton. It hurt. It hurt like hell.

Then came Hoddle. That hurt more. Were we drifting? Were we going backwards? No-one was sure. Many of us were asleep.
Anyone fancy a 1-1 draw? Anyone fancy Carl Cort on the right wing?
It couldn't get worse, but it did. Sack him, we implored the board. They delayed, then Hoddle abandoned us on the eve of the season.

Cue anger, and cue the worst emotion ever to drift down from any football terraces - apathy.
But McCarthy's simply worked a miracle. And it's been simply executed. He's created a team in the image of Wolverhampton - hard-working, unfussy, honest.
The fans' warmth aimed towards McCarthy, as he kicks every ball and contests every decision, is immeasurable.

When the fans turned angrily on the club's chief exec in a row over FA Cup tickets, McCarthy stepped in. Immediately the chanting stopped.
It's a mutual respect between manager and fans based on honesty.

Since the FA Cup disaster against West Brom, Wolves have been transformed.
In Matt Murray, we've a goalkeeper good enough for England, once he sorts his kicking. In Neil Collins, we've a previously unheralded centre half who could quite seriously be in one of Alex McLeish's first Scotland squads. In Jackie McNamara, we've a fit-again defender who never seems to play for a losing team. In Darren Potter, we've a young midfielder who looks every inch a Liverpool-schooled prospect. In Karl Henry, we've a midfielder who's from 10 minutes up the road and plays like a fan - because he is one.
We all dream of a team of Gary BreensWolves fans' reworking of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine "

To the tune of Yellow Submarine, we all dream of a team of Gary Breens. In Andy Keogh, we've a free-running striker who's hold-up play has been an absolute revelation. In Stephen Ward, we've the Championship's player of the month for February.

And then there's Michael Kightly.

The headline writers would have you believe Manchester United and Aston Villa already want the winger to play in the Premiership. Well, the £25,000 winter signing from Conference club Grays will surely make it - hopefully without leaving Molineux.

For a club that's literally wasted millions and millions in the transfer market, Kightly, in terms of performance based on outlay, is already shaping up as one of Wolves' greatest ever signings. His wing-play excites and entertains. His goals win matches.

I follow a team that so obviously wants to achieve. It wants to reach the Premiership, it's playing without fear. And we've a manager that's already won his place in Molineux hearts forever.
The man who preached caution back in July, is embracing the excitement I felt inside the cramped away end at Luton's Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

"Forget about these people saying we are dark horses for promotion or coming up on the rails. We are contenders for promotion," says the man still with MM emblazoned on his jersey.

Merlin the Magician? Maybe not, but from my seat in the South Bank he looks increasingly like Molineux's Messiah.

Latest 10 comments

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posted Mar 10, 2007

PelhamWarner - Regardless of Mick's poor Premiership record with Sunderland, he was an international manager of some repute. His handling of a big names is, in my opinion, spot on. Roy Keane was dealt with as he should have been, and perhaps he has learnt from the experience, as he shifted disruptive players such as Liam Lawrence in his first management job.

Im sure if Mick is backed financially should Wolves realise the dream, they would stand a good chance of survival.

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posted Mar 10, 2007

As a teenager in the late 80's me and my mate used to get excited about going to watch the Wolves, even in Division 4, cos the players, though lacking quality, lived Wolves, and those type of players got Wolves back to back promotions to Englands 2nd tier where Wolves have stayed with some expensive non hungry players. Now Wolves have gone back to the type of players who rescued the club from oblivion, fighters, and I know Wolves are ready to step from the second tier and fight and earn their right to play in Englands top tier for a long time. Feel like I used to feel about watching Wolves and its good.

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posted Mar 11, 2007

Well mate - got the right result today!! What a fighting spirit - up against it early on, but wouldn't lie down and die. They can keep their experience - I'll go for enthusiasm every time! You must be as proud as me!.

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posted Mar 11, 2007

Spot on Chickenlegpaul. Mick has enough experience as a manager to get Wolves into top flight and keep them there. He's a realist and won't break the club by feeling under pressure to import any overpriced and overrated ego's when Wolves go up even if we have to wait until end of 2007/08 season. So, bigger name manager in the premiership won't change how Wolves hold on when we get there. Look at poor old Alan Curbishley. Great result today against The Baggies.

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posted Mar 11, 2007

Great to see all this optimism .Takes me babk through the days of Bully The doog and Norman Deeley at last we have a reason to smile again well done Mick and John Bray for recognising it!!

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posted Mar 11, 2007

I am South African and have been a Wolves fan since 1970 and agree wholeheartedly with John Bray. I have only been in England once during the footie season to catch Wolves playing Southend in the mid 1990s, but have shared the joy and despondency of the club each week.
Though I haven't had the privilege of cheering or despairing in the stands, I hunt cyberspace for stories and info about Wolves and whenever games are shown on local TV I catch as much of the action as I can.
There was no greater joy than watching Wolves go up into the Premiership and equally no greater sadness watching them slip back into the Championship League. Itís a lonely supporters club down here at the foot of Africa, but one which will be maintained until I draw my last breath. Like John this club is in my blood even though I live halfway around the world. Tonight my heart is light and I drank a toast to a good win over West Brom and a good chance at promotion. Give them hell Mick and keep them focussed.

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posted Mar 11, 2007

The premiaship is the right and fitting place for Wolves. I remember the Derick Dougan era and it seems only fitting that you should be there . Wish you fans a happy success.

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posted Mar 11, 2007

As a Sunderland fan, we too have suffered many disappointments. MM has a good record in the Championship but in the Premiership it is horrendous.

Good luck to Wolves for promotion but a word of warning if you do go up. MM worked wonders to get us there but then failed and let us down big time. 15 POINTS says it all. He brought in 11 players who quite simply weren't good enough or ready for the Premiership.
He may have learnt from last season but I have serious doubts that he can cut it as a manager in the Premiership. Let's hope I'm wrong for your sake.

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posted Sep 26, 2008

This Article Is Soooooooooo Old Lol

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posted Sep 26, 2008

Ahh the memories come flooding back,so young,so full of life,not touched yet by a cruel cynical world.

where did those days go?

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