ONE IN, ONE OUT
The past seven days have seen further transfer activity at Molineux as Michael McIndoe left to join Bristol City in a deal reported to be worth £400,000 and Stephen Elliott joined the club from Sunderland to link up with former manager Mick McCarthy.
McIndoe joined Wolves in November, initially on loan from Barnsley. He was widely thought of as one of the players that we should have been targeting during the period where Glenn Hoddle was in nominal charge of the club, allowing the best of the available players who would fit into a lower budget join other clubs without any inference of an interest from Wolves.
He immediately impressed at Oakwell and was described as a "tricky winger with lightning quick feet" when we signed him. His move was made permanent with the opening of the January transfer window for a fee of around £250,000, with Wanderers exploiting a clause in his contract allowing him to speak with any club that agreed to pay Barnsley a pre-determined amount.
While it would be overly harsh to class McIndoe`s Molineux career as a disappointment, he never lived up to the standards set by fellow November loanee Michael Kightly. Most notable was his unwillingness to take on his full-back, often settling for a simple ball inside or back to Jackie McNamara.
After a reasonable start, his form regressed and he was dropped to the bench for the home clash with Plymouth in favour of Dan Jones. However, he came on after around an hour of that game, setting up Seyi Olofinjana`s second-half equaliser. He remained a fixture in the starting XI thereafter, but was often the sacrificial lamb in McCarthy`s substitutions, notably against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park when he was withdrawn before half-time after Mark Little`s dismissal, and in the second leg of the play-offs against West Brom, when Stephen Gleeson`s introduction provoked a stream of invective from the Scotsman.
Did that incident hasten his departure from the club? It`s unlikely, but Mick McCarthy has made it clear that he won`t tolerate indiscipline (note the swift way in which Leon Clarke and Jemal Johnson disappeared from the picture following their reported bust-up at Stoke in January) and it can hardly have helped his cause.
McIndoe has since stated that he has left Molineux to further his international career and also as our style of play starved him of possession. Two observations to make here; for one thing, I`m unaware of the vast list of Scottish internationals that Bristol City have nurtured and I find it difficult to believe he`ll get more exposure at Ashton Gate next season than he would have done at Molineux. Also, maybe he should have worked a little harder to earn possession if he felt on the periphery of the game.
All in all, for the price we paid, he was an acceptable enough player, but perhaps it`s time for us to move on to the next level now if we really want to push for automatic promotion. I wish him well next season, other than on two obvious occasions!
So, we move on to the new arrival, Stephen Elliott of Sunderland. The Irishman is no stranger to Wolves fans, having scored on three of his last four appearances against us, including the equaliser in last season`s 1-1 draw at Molineux.
A quick trawl of Sunderland messageboards reveals a portrait of a hard-working, skilful striker with a knack of scoring spectacular goals - it certainly sounds promising. At just 23, he`s the right kind of age to fit into the new Wolves ethos and having worked to great effect with Mick McCarthy previously, he`ll hopefully settle in well.
The question must, however, be asked; did we really need to sign a fifth front-line striker, with Andy Keogh, Jay Bothroyd, Freddy Eastwood and Stephen Ward already vying for places? My personal feeling was that we didn`t especially need to sign him, but given McCarthy`s transfer record since arriving at the club, it`s probably better to side with his judgement for now.
We certainly now have competition for places in the striking department, the like of which hasn`t been seen since our promotion season, when Nathan Blake, Dean Sturridge, Kenny Miller, George Ndah and Adam Proudlock (remember Hillsborough!) were all to the fore at various points.
The next task for McCarthy has to be to strengthen the left-back area; Charlie Mulgrew, Lee Collins and Dan Jones all lack experience and are vastly unproven at this level, though all may indeed mature to become excellent players.
Rumours of a loan move for Arsenal`s Armand Traoré persist, though it`s rare indeed that McCarthy goes for non-British players (apart from the Rep Ireland lads) in the transfer market.