McCarthy refuses to panic after Wolves hit bottom
West Ham 2 Wolves 0
Published 03/01/2011 | 05:00
The relief of those in claret and blue should have been matched by the gloom of those in gold. The joy at Anfield three days earlier was replaced by frustration as Wolves, unfortunate at times, suffered a damaging defeat.
Yet Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has enough experience of life at the wrong end of the table not to panic. Now they are bottom and on Wednesday face Chelsea at Molineux.
If form continues, then Chelsea should be concerned; in their last seven games Wolves have followed defeat with victory. And McCarthy has faith enough in his players to believe now is not the time for alarm bells.
"I'm very proud because my players are never wanting for effort," said McCarthy after a Ronald Zuba own goal was followed by a first goal in 73 attempts by Freddie Sears. "My approach is one of encouragement. We have to keep going.
"Being bottom doesn't matter. You go down in any of the three positions. We've been there (in the bottom three) a long time. It's not affected my psychological behaviour. I haven't suddenly become a psychopath or something. I started the season as that," he joked.
Why is he so calm in adversity? "I base it on my own experiences and knowledge of the game. They (other bosses) do get nervy. None of them want to drop into it."
That Wolves played well enough in spells did not hint of a team in crisis, though the overall quality from both sides was too often Championship rather than Premier League standard.
That West Ham started Saturday in 20th position and finished it five places higher says as much for the tightness in the bottom half as manager Avram Grant's ability to turn things around.
Yet it is difficult to argue against seven points from three games in six days; a win at Newcastle on Wednesday would go further to convincing the cynics that West Ham can still avoid the drop.
It is perhaps no coincidence that West Ham's run of four games without loss has coincided with the arrival of coach Wally Downes. But also the return of Sears has brought dividends.
He was on loan at Scunthorpe, but Grant remembered a training game in the summer when the striker played on the right, threw him in at Fulham and Sears responded by helping his team to a rare away win.
Sears played in the draw against Everton, then claimed only his second goal for the club -- two years and 10 months since his first, on his debut.
Sears, who should be joined by Aston Villa midfielder Steve Sidwell this week, was solid and clever. Now West Ham go to St James' Park in confident mood.
"We have a massive chance of staying up," said Sears. "All it takes is a couple of wins and we will hopefully be out of it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)