The Premier League Previews 2010/11, Part 20: Wolverhampton Wanderers – Age Before Beauty?

The Premier League Previews 2010/11, Part 20: Wolverhampton Wanderers – Age Before Beauty?

By on Aug 14, 2010 in English League Football, Latest | 15 comments

For a team that won three league titles in the 1950s, and has four FA Cup wins to it’s name, last season was as good as it’s been for a whole generation of Wolverhampton Wanderers fans, seeing as it will be 29 years since the club last embarked on consecutive seasons in the top flight. Mick McCarthy made some controversial decisions last year – his fielding of a virtual reserve side at Old Trafford by far the most standout one. Some of his other decisions now seem hypocritical, considering how defensive Wolves were last season, and how McCarthy spent the last few weeks of June criticising every World Cup minnow who dared to play for a draw in the group stages.

However, it is some of the decisions that McCarthy made in his earlier years that may shape the season that Wolves are to have. At a first glance, Wolves don’t appear to have an old squad. Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann is 38, and captain Jody Craddock may only be three years younger, but the third oldest player at the club is 29 year old left back Matt Hill. Digging deeper however, and right back Richard Stearman turns 23 on Thursday, which is a little bit of a problem, because Stearman is the 27th oldest member of the squad. In a season where the Premier League have brought in a rule stating that you can only have 25 players over the age of 21, cuts have to be made, and ineligible players will need to be paid. Less of a concern for Roberto Mancini (even if Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi based owners didn’t become rich by throwing money away), more of a concern for those at clubs at the sharp end. Wolves were under the limit at the end of last season, but a summer that has seen a fair bit of transfer activity at the Molineux, sees the club over the limit for under 21s, and surprisingly compared to most Premier League clubs, under developed when it comes to younger players.

Most of the deals McCarthy has done over the summer have remained undisclosed, but reports estimate that a total of £18m has been spent on the team’s consolidation. The signings are uninspiring however – Steven Fletcher is a club record signing at £6.5m, but his eight goals for Burnley last season weren’t enough to keep the Clarets up last season, and with just 39 goals scored last season, it’s clearly an area that needs to be improved. The other two signings from within English football were also from a relegated club – Steven Mouyokolo and Stephen Hunt from Hull City. Hunt in particular will be aiming to avoid three relegations in four seasons. The other imports to Molineux are from Belgium – Geoffrey Mujangi Bia on loan from Charleroi, and Jelle Van Damme from Anderlecht. Van Damme will be looking to put a disastrous spell at Southampton out of his mind, as well as an impending court case back in Belgium where US international defender Oguchi Onyewu is suing Van Damme for racist abuse (Onyewu claims he was called a “dirty monkey”) during a game between Anderlecht and Standard Liege last year.

Another problem McCarthy has is the size of the squad. As we revealed two weeks ago, Wolves were one of the few sides who will need to exclude players from their squad before they name their 25 man list at the end of the month, and with Stefan Maierhofer joining Duisburg on loan, there are still two players to jettison. One of those expected to be left out was forward Andy Keogh, who has struggled to get back into the team after a cruciate ligament injury last season, but with Sam Vokes joining Bristol City on loan until January, McCarthy has stated he will only bring another striker into the club if Keogh leaves before the end of August. With 24 players over the age of 21 used in pre-season, and three players absent through injury (Michael Kightly, Stephen Hunt and long term absentee Matt Murray), McCarthy has to make a decision by the end of the month, with Murray and Matt Hill the most obvious choices to miss out.

Looking at the squad that are likely to make the cut, and one thing Wolves don’t lack, is solid replacements in their squad, but the first team itself doesn’t really have many matchwinners in it – not a single player at the club hit double figures last season. The defensive pairing of Craddock and Berra have continued to look strong, and Van Damme may have trouble getting into the side to begin with. That healthy competition may be vital, as the goals against column may not have been spectacular, but keeping that number down seems more likely than adding to the goals for column.

But again, we come back to the 25 man squad rule. McCarthy’s comments last week in the Wolverhampton based Express & Star newspaper showed his lack of foresight: “The top clubs will still have the 25 best players, but the top clubs can’t have 40 players unless 15 of them are under 21.” Unfortunately for Wolves, most of the top clubs will be able to have that luxury, with only Manchester City have a larger Over 21 squad than McCarthy’s men. And with Vokes’ loaned out to Bristol City, Wolves have only one professional considered “Under 21” left at the club, with any playing time in the Premier League; Geoffrey Mujangi Bia played 59 minutes in three games on loan from Charleroi last season, before making the move permanent. McCarthy’s lack of planning in this area, and the lack of backup of players considered under 21, which just about every other club in the division will have, may just be the factor that prevents Wolves’ from making it three successive seasons in the top flight.

Readers are reminded that, whilst comments and criticism are welcome, abusive comments will be deleted, as will comments that use fake email addresses for verification. There are plenty of places on the internet for people to spit bile, but this isn’t one of them. Comments are usually pre-appoved, so may take some time to appear.

The image used for this article is reproduced courtesy of Flickr user lism. under a Creative Commons 2.0 Licence.

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    15 Comments

  1. Wow.

    What an incoherent and ill-informed ramble.

    Almost every biased and poorly formed opinion is wrong, but then with sentences like this -

    “Geoffrey Mujangi Bia played 59 times in three games on loan from Anderlecht last season”

    - I am not surprised.

    Andy

    August 14, 2010

  2. I agree with you Andy.
    Wolves have several under 21′s that can go into the squad and these players were given run outs in the friendlies…..not sure where the facts have come from!!???

    Rich.

    August 14, 2010

  3. Mujangi Bia is on loan from Charlerio, it’s not hard to do a little bit of research is it? There’s no way Matt Hill will be in our squad, and neither will Murray because he isn’t fit.

    We may not have that many under 21, but a vast majority of them are 23/24 which is why we have a much younger squad WITH a years premier league experience.

    Louie

    August 14, 2010

  4. I agree. A poorly rersearched and poorly written piece containing the usual anti mccarthy stuff I have become used to. The signings are uninspiring? Really? From where I stand they are an exciting set of acquisitions that give us more craft and firepower in attack and more certainty in defence. As for the criticism that we have too many old players and that we will have to leave two outside the squad well Hill is on his way out of molineux so would not be in it and Murray is still injured and will not be in the squad. The Hof is off on loan meaning that we have every player in the squad available for the twenty five rule. Credit Mccarthy for sorting that out instead of trying to suggest some sort of incompetence on his part.
    I do hope Wolves prove so called experts like yourself wrong.

    martin

    August 14, 2010

  5. Now now gents, at which point does anyone at 200% claim to be an expert?

    OK so some stats and facts are incorrect but if you read other articles on this site the admin is usually happy to admit where they’ve been wrong and update accordingly. I assume some are mere typos, and the opinions on players are exactly that.

    Let’s all just try to be thankful that somebody on the internet seems to acknowledge that the Premier League does not revolve around the Manchesters, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs and has given each and every club due attention and opinion. For what its worth I didn’t 100% agree with what was written about my club, Newcastle, but did not feel it necessary to jump in and savage someone who is doing this in the spare time.

    Rog

    August 14, 2010

  6. I’ll let Rob answer for himself as regards this article, but

    @Rog, the Newcastle one was mine. No I don’t claim to be an expert and yes I am doing this in my spare time but that doesn’t mean I want people to make allowances and go easy on me if what I’m writing is poor. I’m happy to be corrected on points of fact and happy to be disagreed with on matters of opinion, not least because I’m genuinely interested in what the club’s own fans think. So savage away (as long as you do so politely … ).

    Gavin

    August 14, 2010

  7. Just for the record, these previews will not be repeated next year. None of of you have even seen half of the abusive messages that have been left over the last couple weeks or so. I don’t, at this point in time, have much inclination to write anything about the premier league again, and I daresay that the people that have left us these charming messages will be delighted about this.

    ian

    August 14, 2010

  8. And just as a quick ftr there, none of these messages are left by regular readers of the site.

    ian

    August 14, 2010

  9. Ian,

    No way I can know what kind of abuse the authors of these previews have had to put up with but it seems a little short-sighted on your part to let that dictate what you do or don’t write about in the future. I have enjoyed reading the prem team previews – they’re generally very well-written and offer something really different to the papers’ predictable stuff.
    You say the offensive messages are left by non-regulars. If so, all the more reason to ignore them.
    Cheers for all the good work.

    Dan

    August 14, 2010

  10. As a relative neutral way over here in Canada, these previews have been extremely valuable. As I wrote on another, fans usually get all bitchy when you don’t write exactly what they think (we’re going to win the league with Joey Craddock in defence!) about their team.

    Brenton

    August 14, 2010

  11. Decent efforts on every club, I’m not trying to start a love- in here but any online website that goes to review the Scottish Third Division deserves respect.
    Also, one which covers the other side of football which Sky and others blissfully ignore is a welcome relief to most drivel written. Thumbs up from me.

    Ed Anderson

    August 14, 2010

  12. @Andy – “Geoffrey Mujangi Bia played 59 times in three games on loan from Anderlecht last season”

    thanks for spotting that, it should read minutes, not times. Updated.

    @Rich – “Wolves have several under 21′s that can go into the squad”

    Yes, Rich, they can, they have 13 of them, but apart from Vokes and Mujangi Bia, none of them have Premier League experience. I could have had a look at all the Under 21s McCarthy fielded against Leeds, Hearts and Bilbao, if he’d actually fielded any in those games.

    @Louie: “Mujangi Bia is on loan from Charlerio, it’s not hard to do a little bit of research is it?”

    He’s not. He was on loan from Charleroi last season, his move was made permanent in May. It’s not hard to get your facts right on your own club is it?

    Rob

    August 14, 2010

  13. It would be a shame not to do the reviews next season because of the abuse from some morons who have no sense of reason or logic when it comes to their clubs. I think you need to follow the lead of the majority of porn sites on the web. Before you go in to them they have a warning on them that says “If you are under the age of 18 years do not enter”. Maybe you could start your site with “Warning – if you have less than average levels of intelligence and perception, or if you have your club crest tattooed somewhere on your body, or you dress your baby in the club strip, or name your children after former players, or have a car window sticker which features a cartoon picture of one of your supporters urinating on the shirt of your local rivals – DO NOT ENTER”.

    Sean of the Shed

    August 14, 2010

  14. @Louie: “Mujangi Bia is on loan from Charlerio, it’s not hard to do a little bit of research is it?”

    @Rob: He’s not. He was on loan from Charleroi last season, his move was made permanent in May. It’s not hard to get your facts right on your own club is it?

    No, he IS very much on loan. You are thinking of Adlene Guedioura whose loan was turned into a permanent deal this summer. Very simple research would’ve avoided all this.

    Reality

    August 14, 2010

  15. I have greatly enjoyed these previews and it will be a shame if they are not repeated.

    Sam

    August 19, 2010

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