Club Focus – Wolves – Heads held high

Brave 10-man Wolverhampton withstood an Arsenal barrage for much of Saturday’s game at The Emirates, but finished empty handed after Nicklas Bendtner headed a last-gasp winner, which would have broken Molineux hearts.

The men in gold will have been left with a bitter taste in their mouths after they were controversially reduced to 10 men when captain, Karl Henry, was sent off for a lunging tackle on Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky. The Gunners had been wasteful for much of the game and it looked as though Wolves could do what Birmingham did a week earlier and clinch a point from Arsene Wenger’s title-chasing side, but Henry’s dismissal proved to be vital as his team battled on bravely only to finish with nothing to show for it.

Henry was understandably furious after the game believing that the sending off was unfair and launched a scathing attack on an Arsenal side, who he feels fall over all too easily. The 27-year-old branded the red card a “digrace” and criticised Wenger’s players for their overreaction, saying that they “go down like a sack of spuds.” It is an issue that has plagued football over recent years and is usually only drawn into focus when one of the bigger sides suffer a bad decision because of playacting and simulation. Rosicky definitely influenced the referee’s decision by rolling around on the Emirates pitch as if he was in excruciating agony, but Henry blasted him because he believes the player was not really hurt. “Rosicky is rolling around but two minutes later he is up running around and absolutely fine”, he said. “That’s what they do here. Their players moan when they get tackled, when they get hit hard, and so does Arsene Wenger.” The Wolverhampton captain was adamant that he nicked the ball off the Arsenal midfielder and a yellow card would have been harsh, let alone a red. Henry hopes the club will appeal that the sending off was a wrongful dismissal and his manager Mick McCarthy has mentioned such an appeal as a definite possibility, but they will have to be wary as the ban may be extended if the appeal is considered frivolous by the FA.

McCarthy has urged his side not to let this recent disappointment distract them from the trials ahead and wishes them to continue the good work they have been doing in recent weeks. The Wanderers did not really lose any ground in the fight for survival this weekend as only West Ham and Portsmouth managed to pick up a point each out of the bottom seven sides. McCarthy did not want to linger too much on the loss at Arsenal and instead chose to praise his players’ dogged performance, professionalism and fighting spirit. He believes that these sorts of displays will see them safe and secure another season of going to places like The Emirates, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford and Anfield. The former Republic of Ireland manager said: “I’m confident we’ll get more points if we play like we did against Arsenal. Everybody down at Arsenal and looking on will have thought and expected we would lose on Saturday but we gave them a fright.”

The Wolves boss picked out one stand-out performer for individual praise when he remarked on the recent good form of Michael Mancienne, the on-loan Chelsea youngster, who has been mentioned a lot in recent weeks in regards to both his form and future. Mancienne gave a delightful performance in a more familiar position as a central defender on Saturday. McCarthy thought the youngster was “terrific” and that his time at Molineux has been of benefit for both Wolves and Chelsea. He said: “We’re very lucky that Chelsea allowed us to have him for a season but I think they are a bit lucky as well because he’s getting experience in a team which is competing.” The 22-year-old has shown his durability this season in a defensive midfield role as well as taking up a more usual position in the back four. This may give Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, something to think about in the summer as he will look to freshen up a squad which has often been criticised for its age and lack of youthful prospects.

But you can be sure that Wolves and McCarthy would welcome Mancienne back for at least another season if the Blues decide they do not require his services next season.

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