Tuesday 20 February 2018

McCarthy plays down losing streak as clinical Baggies add to woes


Phil Shaw

THE Baggies' faithful gleefully informed Mick McCarthy that he would be "sacked in the morning" after West Brom had condemned Wolves to their fifth successive Premier League defeat yesterday.

That is likely to prove wishful thinking, although another Wolves failure at home to Swansea next Saturday would crank up the pressure on their manager, especially with Carling Cup and league dates with Manchester City to follow.

McCarthy reflected that Wolves' losing run -- their worst at this level since they succumbed six times in a row during the relegation season of 1983-84 -- contained only one bad performance, against QPR.

"I'm under no more pressure than I am normally," he said. "I was pleased with the way we played, but they finished their chances clinically and we didn't."

Roy Hodgson, savouring a third clean sheet in eight games after Albion posted only two in 38 last season, expressed solidarity with McCarthy.

"I can't for the life of me think why Wolves would want to sack Mick," he said. "If we'd come off losing 2-0 after playing as well as his team did, I'd be expecting a pat on the back rather than the sack."

Albion's opening home win of the season has been a long time coming, and this, indeed, was their first top-flight victory over Wolves in 29 years. Yet despite being the home side, they enjoyed considerably less possession, being content to play on the counter-attack. The ploy worked well, the speed of Shane Long and Somen Tchoyi's blend of raw power and intricate footwork exposing the lack of pace of centre-backs Roger Johnson and Christophe Berra.

Wolves dominated the early sparring only for Albion to score in their first attack. Billy Jones, making his full Premier League debut, took Youssouf Mulumbu's pass on the overlap and cut it towards the centre spot where Chris Brunt arrived to lash a left-footed shot high into the net.

Kevin Doyle should have equalised six minutes later after Nenad Milijas' shot came off Ben Foster, but from two yards his effort was blocked by Jonas Olsson.

Adam Hammill, with a drive Foster touched behind, and Johnson, who headed badly wide from a Doyle cross, also had chances to score before Albion wrapped up the points.

Mulumbu's role was again pivotal, the Congolese feeding the ball wide for Paul Scharner to cut into the 18-yard area and back-heel the ball to Peter Odemwingie.

The Nigerian, who had come on three minutes earlier after scoring only once this season, took the ball away from Berra with his first touch and buried it in the far corner of the net with his second.

There was still time for Scharner to "rub our noses in it", as McCarthy put it, by lifting his Albion top to reveal a T-shirt which provoked substitute Stephen Hunt into becoming involved in a heated exchange in the tunnel with the Austrian.

Scharner later showed reporters the offending item, which turned out to be an Albion badge drawn by his children. It will be auctioned for charity, giving the hosts a PR victory as well as the points. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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