Relegation Watch: ‘Big Mick’ Perishes as Steve Kean battles on

Having succumbed to a horrific 5-1 derby defeat at the weekend, Wolves have decided to part company with Mick McCarthy after a stay of five and a half years.

McCarthy was left apologetic in his last public appearance as Wolves boss

McCarthy’s period of charge at Molineux has on the whole been a positive one for the football club given that they were a Championship club when he joined, but ultimately a lack of Premier League progress is what has cost the former Republic of Ireland manager his job.

It took ‘Big Mick’ three years to drag Wolves through what initially seemed as if it would be a difficult period for the club and up into the Premier League and though it seemed they had established themselves in the top flight over the past couple of campaigns, this season has proven very tough.

It is often very easy for the directors of a football club to apportion the blame for a lack of progress on the manager, but this move to dismiss McCarthy can’t exactly be described as a ‘knee-jerk reaction’. It may have come in the wake of a humiliating performance and defeat at the hands of one of their fierce rivals but really this decision had been in the offing for some time.

After two successive seasons of survival upon their return to top flight football Wolves, under McCarthy’s tutelage, invested strongly in the most recent summer transfer window in a move to try and move the club forward from persistent scrapes with relegation.

Birmingham stalwart Roger Johnson was brought in  for a sizeable £7 million despite rumoured interest from far more glamorous clubs and the future of Jamie O’Hara was secured in the wake of a very promising loan spell at the club. These two signings were seen as the move that could make-or-break McCarthy’s future at the club and so it has proved.

O’Hara has struggled with form and fitness in his quest to replicate his significant contribution whilst on loan from Tottenham and Johnson ,who was brought in and immediately made captain of the club by McCarthy, has too struggled to match up to the lofty reputation that preceded his arrival from rivals Birmingham City.

While these introductions have failed to settle, established forces from within the Wolves squad have also struggled to find their best. Stars from previous campaigns such as Kevin Doyle and Matt Jarvis have been short of any level of consistency and Doyle in particular has been bereft of his best form throughout the campaign. Such difficulties have led to Wolves failure to move on from being a club entangled in relegation worry and McCarthy’s struggles to cope with his squads stuttering form have eventually led to his removal.

Meanwhile, the season’s most maligned Premier League manager Steve Kean continued on his unlikely rescue mission by guiding Blackburn to a crucial 3-2 home win in their relegation ‘six-pointer’ against fellow strugglers QPR.

Kean's faith in Yakubu and his own managerial ability is paying off for now

This most recent victory was most timely and it elevated Blackburn to a slightly rosier position outside of the ‘relegation zone’. Wolves, formerly managed by McCarthy of course, were the team that slipped into the dreaded drop-zone in place of Keane’s resilient Blackburn who continue to owe an awful lot to Yakubu who scored again on his continuing, to this point, season-long run of goalscoring form. Once again ‘Yak’ scored a vital goal in a huge win for the club, the sort of conquest that might see them overcome all the odds to reach their end-goal of survival come May.

This victory of vital significance in their relegation battle provided the perfect response to their 7-1 hammering against Arsenal just a week earlier and was further proof of Steve Kean’s unrelenting determination to defy his numerous and volatile critics that have been baying for his blood over the past few months. If Blackburn and Yakubu in particular, continue to pull results out of the bag in this tricky mid-season period then they may well just do enough for the club to stay in the league and for their manager Steve Kean to avoid the same fate as Mick McCarthy at Wolves.

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