Following yet another quiet transfer window for Wolves Charles Fox-Davies looks back at Mick McCarthy’s chequered transfer record since promotion to the top flight was achieved in 2009.
Steven Fletcher. The one stand out signing that Mick has made since promotion: £7.5 million from Burnley in 2009/10. He started quietly. Besides a goal on his debut vs Stoke he was quiet up until late season. Why, you may ask? Often Fletcher was deployed on the right wing, strange for a man renowned for his heading prowess and his deadliness in the box. Maybe it’s a bit harsh to blame Mick for this as he was basically forced to play five in midfield due to our form and yes Kevin Doyle was doing the lone striker role exceptionally well. Fletcher was destined to be a first year flop until Doyle ripped knee ligaments for Ireland. Fletcher stepped up with goals, goals and more goals, and in all honesty, kept Wolves up, ending the season with 10 goals in 15 starts. Impressive. Well-done Mick. He has started this season well, TOO well, and with 9 goals in 14 Premier League starts, the vultures may well circle in the summer, and he probably deserves better so good luck to him. Emmanuel Frimpong looks like he could be a good signing too but only time will tell.
Kevin Doyle is the hardest working guy out there and I love him to bits, but with 16 goals in 74 PL starts for Wolves, it’s not ideal. His work rate has been invaluable though and I do think people have been too quick to criticise him this term. And I stand by my opinion that he would do better in midfield (better than others tried there) but does this record depict a good signing for circa £7 million?
However, one signing falls into the ‘nearly there’ category.
Jamie O’Hara started so well when he had that license to roam, in behind the front man, but now he seems to play so deep, stifling his talents. Whether this is Mick’s idea or not I do not know… but it shouldn’t happen, and that is Mick’s fault. He did seem to be taking back that role until injury struck and that encourages me somewhat and I do think he will prove to be a good signing.
Marcus Hahnemann was invaluable with his experience and command of the box and should not have been released, and time will tell how Dorus de Vries will do as the back up keeper.
Michael Mancienne and Nenad Milijas, fall into the ‘not great’ category, as do Ronald Zubar who has been ravaged by injury and Roger Johnson. RoJo has not started well but we are starting to see the best of him now and he is a fighter, which Wolves need, and hopefully he can stem the flow of goals. I believe that RoJo will prove to be excellent. Adam Hammill is also in this category, and has the potential (if Mick doesn’t toss him aside as he seems destined to do) to be great. Adlene Guedioura has also failed to win Mick over and reports of a bust up have seen him loaned out to Forest. His former team mate at Charleroi, Geoffrey Mujangi Bia is another who came, was seen and was tossed aside.
There have been epic failures: Steven Mouyokolo, Greg Halford, Segundo Castillo, Marcus Bent, Stefan Maierhofer, and Jelle van Damme who was homesick and went back to Belgium. The case of Jelle van Damme is sad as he had real promise but family is family so fair play to him .
Andrew Surman, who was written off so early at Wolves, banished to the odd cup match and made in all 7 first team appearances, has been brilliant at Norwich, under Paul Lambert, and came back to haunt us with a goal on his return to Molineux.
One transfer that I will use to sum up Mick’s toils in the transfer market is Stephen Hunt. I fear this may divide opinion but hey ho. He is useless. Yes he “puts a shift in” which seems to be the only skill Mick looks for, but he lacks pace, touch, guile, skill, and the ability to beat a player; when added up that doesn’t sound like a Premier League winger does it? Mick has persisted with him but does seem to have given up on him now.
In my opinion, and some others, Mick appears to favour those who have grit rather than flair and it makes for a dismal sight. Often players seem stifled, which makes me sad, players like Matt Jarvis, who had such success last season was this season instructed to play a more inside roll, thus neutering his skill and making us even more dismal. Although he does seem to be coming back to his best now by going back to what he did so effectively, knocking it past men and chasing.
Between 2006-2011, Wolves have been the 10th highest spender in the PL. Mick has spent an estimated £45million pounds. Yet the evolution that so many Wolves fans, including myself, crave – and it is evolution not REvolution we want – hasn’t really happened. This comparison shows this well –
Wolves v Doncaster: Last game of 08/09 season
The players highlighted below are the players who also featured in the Wolves fixture vs Aston Villa on Jan 21st 2012. The only additions being Roger Johnson, Kevin Doyle, Frimpong and Fletcher. For the £45M spent it is hardly an evolution and also hardly a surprise that we currently lie second bottom of the league. All the hard work to get us into the top flight looks to be undone.
GK – Hennessey
RB – Stearman
CB – Craddock (capt)
CB – Berra
LB – Ward
RM – Edwards (Elokobi 85)
CM – Henry
CM – Foley
LM – Jarvis (Vokes)
ST – Ebanks-Blake (Hemmings 65)
ST – Keogh
To conclude I must say that Mick seems to be afraid of shopping abroad. I’m not sure why, and additionally it seems as though our scouting system is hugely flawed. Whether that is Mick’s fault or not I am not sure, but it needs attention. All in all, if we do stay up this season, something needs be done about our transfer policy. This last month has been another transfer window where Wolves have been relatively quiet. Mick McCarthy is fantastic at man management and has exceptional motivational skills and is really attached to the club and I love that. He has done so much for us but something must be done about his transfer dealings.
I do hope Mick pulls a rabbit out of the hat to keep us up. His scattergun approach cannot go on much longer without disastrous consequences.