Tuesday 20 February 2018

McCarthy on brink as Odemwingie hits hat-trick in Wolves mauling

Wolves 1 West Brom 5

John Percy

ROY HODGSON cannot have envisaged such a perfect anniversary present, but Mick McCarthy's hopes of completing a sixth year in charge at Molineux were last night hanging in the balance.

McCarthy is facing an uncertain future after enduring another horrific afternoon on home turf, with over 200 supporters staging a post-match protest outside the ground against him and owner Steve Morgan.

If such a humiliating scoreline against their bitter rivals was not alarming enough, the manner of the performance only increased the levels of mutiny in the air and leaves McCarthy clinging barely on.

He famously claimed he was not Merlin the Magician on the day of his appointment, but will surely need to display incredible levels of escapology to avoid joining Steve Bruce and Neil Warnock on the Premier League dole queue after this, their joint heaviest defeat to their Black Country enemies since 1962.

Albion's victory, including a hat-trick from Peter Odemwingie, will certainly ease any fears of relegation for Hodgson, who celebrated 12 months in charge on Saturday, but Wolves' sixth defeat in seven home matches could have severe repercussions for his opponent in the dug-out yesterday.

"I don't think I've ever apologised for a performance from one of my teams in the last 20 years," said McCarthy.

"It was an awful performance and the fact I'm apologising should tell you how badly I feel. It's a bit raw to explain it now, we capitulated which is not something that is really associated with me or my teams.

"Am I the person for the job? I always feel I'm the person to do it, absolutely. I haven't got any message for the fans, an apology is about as much as I can afford to do at the moment."

This was certainly a sorry performance from a team running out of time to keep producing them.

Albion were excellent, though, and while they appear paralysed with nerves at the Hawthorns there is a fluency and solidity to their performances on the road that has earned them more away victories than Andre Villas-Boas.

Wayne Hennessey, the Wolves goalkeeper, had to make at least four excellent saves in the opening 25 minutes. There were gaping holes all over the Molineux field for Albion to exploit, and any fears Hodgson may have had over their profligacy returning to haunt them were dispelled 10 minutes before half-time.

They needed a slice of fortune to finally beat Hennessey, however, as Odemwingie's drive took a substantial deflection off Dave Edwards to leave the Wolves goalkeeper helpless.

Out of nowhere, there came an equaliser when Steven Fletcher cleverly found space to rifle into the corner.

That unexpected, undeserved equaliser momentarily knocked Albion out of their stride for the second half but they regained superiority to take a 65th minute lead, in strange circumstances.

Gareth McAuley headed against a post and Roger Johnson's bizarre clearance, arcing 30 yards high into the air, fell to Jonas Olsson whose snap-shot was spilled by Hennessey to complete a quite rapid transformation from hero to villain.

The game ebbed and flowed, with Johnson seeing a header deflected onto the West Brom crossbar before Kevin Foley cleared Odemwingie's effort off the line.

Another home defeat for McCarthy was sealed when Wolves dithered again in defence, failing to clear Olsson's flick to allow Odemwingie to arrow the ball through a cluster of players into the corner.

A debut goal for Keith Andrews, a drive from 20 yards, and Odemwingie's deserved third only inflamed an already poisonous atmosphere, with McCarthy enduring "sacked in the morning" chants from his own supporters housed in the Jack Harris Stand.

Hodgson, meanwhile, refused to even discuss the prospect of relegation and is targeting a top-10 finish.

"I couldn't have got a better anniversary present, could I?" he said. "It has been a very nice year and I have enjoyed it very much.

"Of course I feel sympathy for Mick and Wolves can be more satisfied with what he has done for this club. People should be careful what they wish for." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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