Writer: Stuart Smith
Date:Tuesday March 6 2007
Mick McCarthy has developed a habit of turning everything he touches to gold.
From his dealings in the transfer market to winning over the hearts and minds of sceptical fans, Mick has rarely put a foot wrong this season.
With the possible exception of the two heavy defeats to local rivals West Bromwich Albion.
Both times McCarthy fielded a 4-5-1 formation, and both times it went horribly wrong as his side leaked three goals in each match, the club's heaviest defeats this campaign.
So it's doubtful Mick will choose to flood the midfield on Sunday when the Baggies come to town once more, but if that decision is a no-brainer, others open to him are not so clear.
Injuries and suspensions initially forced McCarthy to craft a back four of Jackie Mac, Neil Collins, Rob Edwards and Karl Henry that looked as solid as any he's picked this season.
The clean sheets and wins they provided were a testament to that.
But following a momentary lapse of reason on Neil Potters part, McCarthy was forced into reshaping the side that travelled to Luton, moving captain Henry back into the midfield, Rob Edwards over to right back, and bringing Gary Breen back in from the cold of the sidelines.
Not entirely successful, but nowhere near a complete disaster as Wolves leaked 2 goals for only the second time in 7 matches, but saw Karl Henry centrally placed to score Wolves eventual winner.
Having served his suspension, Darren Potter is now available to reclaim his midfield berth. Whether McCarthy chooses to allow him to is another matter.
His pain at leaving Breen out of previous lineups is well documented. And it is fairly unthinkable for him to drop Neill Collins after his recent sterling displays.
AS for dropping a match winning captain? That would be harsh to say the least on a young player who has shown willingness to play anywhere, anyhow to help his beloved Wanderers succeed.
A more likely casualty in the re-selection of Potter would be Rob Edwards, who unfortunately didn't have the best of games against Luton in his more familiar right back role.
Although the pace of Diomansy Kamara may still force McCarthy into rethinking the wisdom of fielding an ageing stalwart in this most crucial of derbies
Kamara isn't the only threat to McCarthy's winning streak that Albion are likely to field.
Kevin Phillips eleven goals in 25 league starts matched with Kamara's 19 in the same number makes them one of the most feared front pairings in the Coca Cola Championship
Jason Koumas, that once wayward talent can also never be discounted by any team that comes up against him when on form.
But if Albion fail in their attempt to get defender Paul Robinsons red card from Saturday rescinded, Koumas' up field marauding may play into Wanderers hands.
Robinson is widely credited as being the man responsible for allowing Koumas his freedom to terrify defenders, without the hardship of tracking back as often as some Baggies fans would like.
As many teams are now finding, Wolves have their own midfield maestro in the form of Michael Kightly and if there are any gaps left down the West Brom left side, he is likely to exploit them with impunity
McCarthy may always choose not to tinker, and field the same starting line up that valiantly fought back against The Hatters.
But whatever line-up he chooses, they will not require reminding of the two defeats already already suffered at the hands of Tony Mowbray's Albion, and the need to put in the performance of the season so far when the two sides meet on Sunday afternoon.
Date:Tuesday March 6 2007
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