The fact that Wolves – who away from home have looked nothing short of disastrous – are out of the bottom three on goal difference is a testament to their preparation for home games, and the ability to adapt to whichever challenge is placed in front of them. In this instance, it was taking advantage of a side that places huge emphasis on attacking play by shutting them out and scoring swift team goals to win 4-0.
This performance was a far cry from the two massive home wins earlier this year. Most recently, against Manchester United, McCarthy’s side showed determination to bounce back from an early goal conceded and then resilience to shut out a previously unbeaten United side for the entire second half. Just a month before that, Wolves ground out a deserved victory against champions Chelsea. It was a similar story agains the Blues; once Wanderers had taken the lead there was to be no taking it off them. This is the difference between the majority of the other battlers at the bottom – Wolves have the golden knack of holding on to vital results and battling to victories to stay within touching distance.
Against Blackpool, Wolves adapted to play to a more attacking style to take advantage of a recognised leaky defence. With a combination of an excellent target man to hold it up in the shape of Kevin Doyle, a ball-winner, Karl Henry, and a creative spark, Jamie O’Hara (who excelled in his midfield role), the Molineux squad showed they can pick up the points needed to survive. More importantly, without too many tweaks to his line-up, McCarthy has the personnel to suit both a dogfight and a thoroughly efficient creative attack to carve open a weak defence.
With Wolves’ relegation rivals all either conceding far too many at home or not scoring enough to take three points, survival really is in the hands of McCarthy and his players. With more home wins than even Sunderland in eighth place, it may not matter that they have lost more away from home than any other team in the league. McCarthy, an experienced manager in such situations, has clearly recognised that to be competing in the Premier League next year, his side need to win as many games at home as possible. However, should their home form suffer, trouble surely lies ahead.
By utilising the players in the squad, and recognising whether a dogfight is on the horizon or if the best route is to go on the attack, Wolves are indeed very well placed to keep their heads above water while their one-dimensional rivals plummet.