Tuesday 16 January 2018

McCarthy's Wolves have survival in own hands

Lee Dixon

The relegation battle at the bottom of the Premier League is boiling down to three clubs from four. It has been such an unpredictable season anything could still happen, and Blackburn and Birmingham are not totally out of it.

But it does look like being a straight fight between West Ham, Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool, with the prize being another season in the Premier League. I fear for West Ham and Blackpool. I don't think either of them will be able to pull away from the bottom three, which leaves Wigan and Wolves fighting it out to avoid the drop.

Wolves' victory over West Brom last Sunday was a fantastic result for Mick McCarthy's side. It lifted them out of the bottom three and will give them belief they can pull it off in their final two games.

That's all that the manager can ask: that they have it in their own hands. To be honest, if you could pick one game to play away from home, then it might be Sunderland, who have huge injury problems and nothing left to play for.


One of the positives for Wolves is their manager. He is the perfect man for the job, because he will get that extra one or two pc from the team. He is a very honest guy, who thinks about the game and then says it how he sees it. At this stage of the season it is important to keep directions simple for players and I don't see Mick allowing things to get too complicated.

Ian Holloway's Blackpool have been brilliant this season because of the refreshing way they have taken to the Premier League. At times they have shown naivety, but that in itself is refreshing and not something they should be criticised for. They have given people a lot of pleasure this season, but I am certain Ian would swap that for a few more points right now.

People have worked them out though, and in the second half of the season they have been found wanting. I think Ian recognised that and tried to change the way they play, but then they started losing game after game and went into freefall. Now I think he realises the players are not really adapting all that well and have not been able to focus on a different way to play.

They have an uphill battle now against Bolton at home, and then Manchester United away next weekend. There is a suggestion that United will pick a second-string side, which could give Blackpool a chance, but if Alex Ferguson's team get the point they need today to win the title, then there will be a really positive atmosphere at Old Trafford next week ahead of the Champions League final. Either way, I can't see Blackpool getting anything from that game.

Wigan's biggest asset is manager Roberto Martinez. I've been really impressed with him every time he speaks and he seems to have the respect of the dressing room. The trouble for Martinez is that his team have drawn too many games.

There is little to choose between the teams at the bottom, so the influence of a manager like Martinez could make all the difference between staying up and going down. He has kept a cool head in what has become a real dogfight.

You look at West Ham's team and wonder how on earth they are at the bottom of the table. But the truth is they have not played well enough and deserve whatever happens to them. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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