It has been a long gruelling road to survival for Wolverhampton Wanderers, but Mick McCarthy and the men in gold have finally clinched their right to compete in the Premier League next season.
The Molineux faithful celebrated survival after Burnley and Hull City’s defeats against Liverpool and Sunderland respectively assured top flight survival following Wolves’ 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers. Now the fans can enjoy their remaining two fixtures safe in the knowledge that they get another chance to compete with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool next season. Wolves were poor on the day and it looked like they were going to suffer another disappointing home defeat and a further nervy weekend ahead when Ryan Nelsen gave Sam Allardyce’s men the lead, but nobody would have expected what happened next. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake became an unlikely hero as his headed equaliser ended up being the all important goal that earned the club’s necessary point and assured their status as a top division side. The 24-year-old striker has been something of a let-down this season as has struggled to successfully make the step up from Championship to Premier League level, but ironically it was his first goal in the top flight that has kept Wolves up.
The ex-Plymouth Argyle striker was delighted to get a chance in what has been a disappointing season for him and hopefully the goal will give be a much needed confidence boost for future games. “I thought I would get a chance if I got on and I got a chance and it went in. I’m delighted for all the lads and everyone at the club,” said Ebanks-Blake. He added: “It took an age to go in but fortunately it did and at the time it took us a step closer to safety.” The former England Under-21 international came into the Premier League following successive Golden Boots in the Championship and expectations were high. But an early season injury and a preference to play record signing Kevin Doyle significantly reduced Ebanks-Blake’s playing time and this had a negative effect on his focus and form. The Wolves fans will hope he will re-find his momentum in front of goal by next season as the Black Country club start another campaign and inevitably fight for survival once again. The striker believes he has what it takes to make it in the top flight and insists he is confident and will keep working hard: “I’m always confident I can score goals no matter what league it is in given the chance and I still remain confident.”
Wolves owe a large amount of gratitude to their manager McCarthy, who had previously endured two unsuccessful Premier League campaigns as the boss at Sunderland and he would have learned from those experiences to help him keep Wolves up. The former Millwall and Republic of Ireland boss had remained tight-lipped all season about the Wanderers’ chances of survival, even when it looked likely. But now he has broken his silence on the issue, hailing his side’s team spirit, will to survive and looks forward to a bright future at Molineux for the trials ahead of him and his team. “It’s always a big achievement for any team going into the Premier League but surviving that first season means there is a chance to build and try and continue to improve,” he said, adding: “It is extremely difficult for a promoted team going in and in our case we had very few players who had top flight experience.”
It was also good to hear about the manager and his staff’s modest celebration upon hearing the result of the Burnley v Liverpool game which decided Wolves’ fate. McCarthy said: “I’m off out to have a drink with some of the staff and will then probably go back home for a Chinese and a glass of bubbly later.” The Midlands club will now enjoy successive top flight seasons for the first time since the campaigns in 1980/81 and 1981/82. The manager, players and staff have a whole summer to build and improve as they prepare for another Premier League season ahead. Wolves will not be resting on their laurels though as they still have two fixtures remaining against Portsmouth (away) and McCarthy’s former side Sunderland (home).
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