Writer: Stuart Smith
Date:Thursday February 22 2007
Ever since Mick McCarthy was appointed at Molineux, after a certain southern spiritualist tried to bury news of his departure under whatever headlines England would make in Germany against Portugal, Wolverhampton Wanderers has been a very different club to the one many fans had started to lose faith with.
I'm not talking about the backroom goings on, the Boardroom wrangles or the club's administration.
When I was first mesmerised by the brilliance of The Doog, awestruck by the trickery of Waggy, and watching Frankie like a hawk hoping to pick up some pointers, the political aspect of Wolverhampton Wanderers didn't interest me, and I sometimes wish it had stayed that way for all of us.
I'm talking about the part of the club that fires passions, breaks hearts and then mends them, all in the space of an hour and a half.
The chosen few who get to run out to a Molineux roar, hear their name echo around the Golden Palace, the team that is supposed to wear the Old Gold with honour and pride.
This time last year, hopes of a promotion push were fading with every minute of football played, whilst Glenn Hoddle continued to try, and ultimately failed to mould a team in his own ice-cream image.
Fast forward 12 months, and bereft of the highly paid internationals and want away players, Mick McCarthy's assembled youngsters and journeymen have confounded everyone and stand poised on the shoulders of the pack ready to gatecrash the play off party.
Given that many fans would have settled for avoiding relegation when Mick McCarthy took over, the current league position, 8th, denied a play off spot on goal difference alone is even more remarkable.
There is confidence in the side, a real hunger and desire, and a willingness to grind out a result if that what it takes to get the job done.
A visibly shaken Glenn Hoddle once told the assembled press at Molineux that he would never compromise his views on how the game should be played, as he had never done as a player.
Mick McCarthy wasn't born with the natural talent of Saint Glennda, or lauded as the finest of his generation. But that didn't stop him captaining his country, or going to more World Cup Finals.
So when HE carves a team in his own image, and infuses it with his own principles something very different happens.
There's no place for ego's, no place for the feint hearted, and no place for the self important.
What you get is hard work, commitment, and tenacity, and when his men don't come up with those goods, he's man enough to say that's exactly what happened.
And he hasn't had to say that too many times this term.
However this season pan's out, for all the loss of revenue, financial backing, strutting prima donna's and 'stars', there is a very real feeling that this squad, led by Mick McCarthy can only get better.
How long has it been since you could honestly say that about Wolverhampton Wanderers?
Date:Thursday February 22 2007
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