Brendan King is a happy Wanderer following events at Loftus Road.
Fortune favours the brave, so they say, and Mick McCarthy drew my admiration for his ambitious substitutions against Queens Park Rangers last Saturday. Some have suggested that by having three strikers on the pitch in the second half, when the starting line -p included only one loner (Fletcher) and two right sided defenders (Foley virtually central and Stearman tucked in tight on the right flank) in an attempt to stifle QPR’s midfield and attack, shows that Mick got it wrong from the start – but who cares we won in the end. And it was down to our beleaguered manager’s brave decisions and he deserves full credit.
After being a goal down within fifteen minutes (debutante Zamora scoring) and our creative midfielder, Frimpong, off injured to be replaced by striker Blake after twenty minutes, McCarthy truly turned adversity into advantage by giving us a more muscular 4-4-2 formation. Another fifteen minutes later, when QPR new boy Cisse got sent off for grabbing our defender Johnson by the throat, fortune well and truly favoured Wolves as nine man QPR began to wilt under the increased attacking pressure mounted by a side who’ve always looked good when they start passing forwards instead of just trying to hold onto the ball by sideways and backwards passing. Good to have O’Hara back from injury, by the way, as his forward passing and creativity was noticeable despite his obvious lack of fitness.
A few matches ago I suggested that, instead of confining goal-shy front man Doyle to the bench, he be deployed as a right winger which, anyway, he tended to do whenever not receiving ball supply in front of goal. This was before Kightly returned from loan at Watford and retook the right wing slot after two years out with dodgy knees. But with Kites out again injured for this match Mickdecided to replace Stearman with Doyle for the second half and to move Foley to his proper position at right back. All of a sudden Wolves were a perfectly balanced attacking team and proceeded to put the depleted QPR to the sword, scoring the two goals that gave us this hard earned, albeit, somewhat fortunate win. You have to make your own luck and Wolves and boss-man Mick certainly did that.
Relieved of the responsibility of being the lone striker, within a minute of the restart Doyler sent in a fine cross for left winger Jarvis to shoot into the opposition net. He then popped up on the 70th minute with the kind of poacher goal we were used to seeing from him in previous seasons. Great substitutions Mick, you did the Wolves supporters proud! You were brave and you deserved your fortune created by the dismissal of Cisse.
The only way Wolves can survive now, with 14 games left, is by achieving a points average of around 1.5 per game, lifting us into the magic 38/40 points aggregate that should keep us up. I know that I’m contradicting myself after writing Wolves off in my last column , but, hey-ho, what do I know? I’m most happy to eat my words, consume humble pie, etc, if Wolves survive against all odds. I’ll even live with McCarthy continuing as manager — if we survive! (I quite like the bloke really).
The fortune that favoured Mick and his team extended to the results from our main rivals for the drop (Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan) as we were the only ones amongst this bottom four that won last weekend. And so, amazingly, Wolves have dragged themselves above the relegation zone, and with only goal difference between us and Saturday’s richer London opponents.
So we need a few wins, several draws and very few, if any, losses if we’re to survive this season. The best way to achieve this from here on in is, of course, to start by beating the Baggies at Molineux next Sunday. Of course we can and of course we will.
Bring on the Baggies!