Mick McCarthy will not have been happy about uncharacteristic defensive mistakes from his players against Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Saturday, despite Wolves already achieving Premier League survival the weekend before.
The pressure was off the Black Country club and arguably this affected their concentration as Pompey striker Aruna Dindane was allowed a free header following a Michael Brown free kick, which opened the scoring and gave the lead to the South Coast side. At the other end of the pitch Wolves grabbed a deserved equaliser via Kevin Doyle. Wolverhampton midfielder David Jones was a constant menace to the F.A Cup finalists with his set-piece delivery, but Portsmouth goalkeeper David James was in inspired form and held out as his side scored another two goals to finish the game 3-1. The result does not really bare any consequences, but McCarthy would not have been pleased with the lack of concentration and obviously the club, fans and players want to perform well for the sake of pride and to finish the current season on a high. The Wolves defence as well as American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann have been in tremendous form this season and have helped pick up points as the team has struggled for goals, so they cannot be blamed too much for their lapse in concentration and blip form at Fratton Park.
On the final day Wolves will face McCarthy’s old club Sunderland and the team would like nothing better to finish their season with a good performance before they take their well-earned summer break. 14th place is still up for grabs and would be worth an extra £750 000 if Wolves managed to finish there ahead of Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and West Ham. The former Republic of Ireland boss also expressed a wish to beat Sunderland in front of the Molineux fans and thank them for their continued support during a long hard season in the English top-flight. Whatever happens in the last game the Wolves fans will be comforted in the knowledge that they will once again get to see their side against England’s finest next term and the club are already preparing for another league campaign. McCarthy has said he is keen to avoid his side suffering an expected tougher campaign next year and has revealed he has thought of little else than strengthening his current roster. The Wolves boss said: “We need to get players to improve the squad because there is that ‘second season syndrome’ that people talk about.” He added: “We will invest in the team – we invested heavily for our club last summer and did pretty well, so we’ll do whatever we can this time.”
Wolves may want to address their worrying form in front of goal this season and bring in at least one other proven goal scorer. After the game at Fratton Park at the weekend McCarthy will have had first hand experience of Dindane, Frederic Piquionne and John Utaka. All three will likely leave cash strapped and relegated Portsmouth this summer and it will be interesting so see if any of them could have a similar impact to Wolves’ record signing Doyle. It has been reported Dindane caught the eye of the Wanderers and may be available at around £2m, but the club would face stiff competition from Blackburn Rovers who are also interested in the Ivorian forward. McCarthy may opt for the cheaper alternative of keeping faith with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who has so far struggled to make the step up from Championship to Premier League level. The young forward has shown flashes of promise recently and his manager thinks he definitely has goals in him and will hopefully have a better second season in the top flight. One player who could be signing permanently for the Midlands club is on-loan Belgian international Geoffrey Mujangi Bia. The 20-year-old winger has suffered with injuries but an impressive display at the weekend may have shown McCarthy enough to sign the player on a permanent basis, but as it stands the youngster’s future hangs in the balance.
As well as strengthening the squad the manger will also have to hold onto his best players. The Molineux faithful will hope that Arsenal’s interest in £12m-rated forward Doyle is just paper talk and they will also be hoping that they can have starlet Michael Mancienne for at least another season as he has impressed in his time on-loan from Chelsea.
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