Assessing the reasons which contributed towards Wolves' relegation.
After three consecutive seasons in the Premiership, defeat to Manchester City on the 22nd April 2012 ensured that Wolves would be playing Championship football once again after a disappointing season. When Wolves escaped relegation on the final day of last season, Chairman Steve Morgan said that this would never happen again, but 11 months later after a torrid season, Morgan was left with a lot to answer for as Wolves slipped through the trap door and faced the prospect of starting their mission for Premier League stability all over again. It's unclear whether Wolves' demise can be pinned down to one specific reason, but a range of factors have already been suggested by Wolves fans to spark a debate as to what went wrong for Wolves this season. Here a few of the reasons which I believe could be held responsible for the club's relegation...
1) The sacking of Mick McCarthy
Although some argue that Wolves shouldn't have got rid of McCarthy at all and others believe that McCarthy should have gone a lot sooner than when he did, the sacking of McCarthy proved to be a pivotal turning point in the club's season.
After a 5-1 defeat to bitter rivals West Bromwich Albion, McCarthy was sacked by the Wolves board after it was thought that there was no possible way for him to continue after such a significant yet embarrassing defeat. The search for Wolves' new manager turned the club into a laughing stock as managers like Alan Curbishley, Brian McDermott & Walter Smith turned the job down whereas others like Ray Wilkins and Steve Bruce were never offered the job despite showing interest. In the end, Morgan & Chief Executive Jez Moxey took the decision to appoint Assistant Manager Terry Connor as Wolves interim manager until the end of the season with many fans seeing this move as a backwards step with regards to the club's future. Considering Wolves were involved in a huge relegation scrap, appointing someone with no previous managerial experience seemed like completely the wrong thing to do and Connor was left the unruly task of trying to drag Wolves out of their horrible mess. Unfortunately, he couldn't turn the club's fortunes around as he picked up a meagre 4 points out a possible 39 which culminated in Wolves' inevitable relegation.
What Wolves fans tend to question the most is the timing of Mick's sacking so late into the season and whether they should have risked sacking Mick knowing full well that they didn't have a suitable replacement ready to step into the reins. It is also debatable as to whether the club should have perhaps sacked Mick earlier on in the season when it was clear that the club was struggling under his reign. Managers such as Mark Hughes & Martin O'Neill, who have now been snapped up by QPR and Sunderland respectively, were free to talk to earlier on in the season and perhaps with either one of these at the helm, the club might have fared better over the course of the season.
We will never know exactly what would have happened if Wolves had gone about this situation differently but it proved to be a hugely important moment of their season which initiated the start of their downfall.
Wolves bid farewell to McCarthy but did the board make the right decision in sacking him?
2) The Defence
As a group of fans, we have always moaned about the state of Wolves' defence which seems to get worse and worse each season! After shipping an impressive 82 goals throughout the course of the season, it's clear to see that Wolves' back-four failed to step up to the mark. Unfortunately Wolves don't have a star defender who can be relied on to produce a stand-out performance in times of need to boost the morale of the rest of the defence. Many fans had hoped that the arrival of Roger Johnson (more to come on him later) would be the answer to Wolves' prayers after an impressive spell at Birmingham but he failed to live up to his high expectations and is now unanimously hated by Wolves fans! If Wolves are to have any chance of improving and progressing as a team in the future, then money needs to be spent on a new defence as the statistics shows that it clearly isn't good enough.
Wolves' back four have been at the centre of criticism throughout the season.
3) Morgan & Moxey
Owner and Chairman Steve Morgan and Chief Executive Jez Moxey have come under criticism from angry Wolves fans this season as results and performances just haven't been acceptable to them. There have been many protests in recent weeks to try and get rid of Moxey & Morgan as Wolves fans demand an answer from the highest authority for what has gone wrong this season. Moxey has already hinted at the fact that the club chose the wrong time to sack McCarthy but this still hasn't convinced the fans who want Jez to leave the club sooner rather than later. Steve Morgan has also been accused as the man to blame for Wolves' failures this season as many believe that he didn't invest enough money into buying new players in the two transfer windows. Furthermore, many disagree with Morgan's decision to redevelop Molineux into a 50,000 seater stadium when the club hadn't yet achieved Premier League stability. Despite ensuring that the club is financially in the black with minimal debts, the fans feel that their beloved club is being run as a business to make profits. If Moxey and Morgan had decided to spend more money on buying new players then they definitely wouldn't have faced such a backlash from the fans.
The controversial duo are at the centre of a storm of protests from the fans who demand answers.
4) Roger Johnson
Johnson was Wolves' marquee summer signing (along with Jamie O'Hara) after having signed from neighbours Birmingham City. Reports from across the region suggested that Wolves had inherited a strong centre-back who would command the defence well and perhaps finally put and end to Wolves' defensive problems of the past. However, I don't think anyone could have predicted what a terrible signing Johnson would turn out to be both on and off the pitch with many fans now desperate to try and sell Johnson and cut their losses. Upon arrival, Johnson was installed as the new club captain, a decision which surely didn't go down very well with a lot of the club's longer-serving players. Despite starting off well with a couple of highly-rated performances, Johnson then entered a downward spiral with fans and pundits criticising Johnson's erratic performances.
Many fans have been disappointed with Johnson's arrogant behaviour on pitch towards his other team-mates but perhaps most disappointing is his behaviour off the pitch after he once turned up to training drunk after a boozy night out - not the type of behaviour you would expect from a club captain. Wolves failed to find their defensive cure in Roger Johnson as he turned out to be one of the club's most disappointing signings of recent times when many had hoped that he would help Wolves push towards mid-table in the Premier League.
The skipper has not turned out to be the player that many Wolves fan yearned for.
5) We still have a Championship Team
The final problem for Wolves this season worth addressing is that they have to failed to make any radical changes to the team since promotion from the Championship in 2009. 8 or 9 of the players who started in the club's 1-0 win over Doncaster in 2009 on the final game of the Championship winning season still feature in Wolves' Starting XI today which really emphasises the little amount of progress that we have made towards rebuilding a team which would be suitable at competing in the top-flight. Players like Karl Henry, David Edwards, Kevin Foley, Christophe Berra and Richard Stearman are still a permanent fixture in the Wolves side with many of these players considered to be Championship quality at best. Every transfer window, the Wolves fans hope that a good amount of new players will arrive through the door at Molineux to give the club more options. However, more likely than not, the fans have been left disappointed as the "old-guard" continue to be prominent.
For me, this epitomises just how little the Wolves team has changed since promotion three years ago!
These are just 5 reasons which could have all possibly culminated in the club's below-par season and there may be many more reasons which would explain the club's failure.