Mick McCarthy last night stood by his decision to rest 10 of his Wolverhampton Wanderers team that beat Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and effectively wave the white flag at Old Trafford, where his second string were beaten 3-0 by Manchester United.
McCarthy risked the wrath of the Premier League who stipulate in rule E20 that clubs are obliged to play their strongest teams in all matches. But it was the travelling Wolves support at Old Trafford who were the angriest last night, singing “We want our money back”, “Where is our first team?” and “Forty quid to watch the reserves”.
He admitted that he had rested the 10 players from Saturday, including matchwinner Kevin Doyle, because he wanted his first team to be fresh for the game against fellow strugglers Burnley on Sunday. As is his practice, McCarthy said he had asked his players to rate the effort that they had put in to the game against Spurs and the “majority of them were nine and a half or 10 out of 10.”
“We can’t have that [kind of effort] on a Saturday and then play again on a Tuesday,” McCarthy said. “That was my best team available because they were all fresh legs. They were my best 11 players. I can understand the fans’ reaction but this is my first team. I have got 21 players to pick from and they are all first-team players.
“I would hope the fans would understand what I have done. At the end of the day my decisions will be judged on whether we stay in the Premier League. I made some bad decisions last year but nobody remembers them because we won the Championship. If we stay up, everything will suddenly be OK. I knew these questions would be asked but what I didn’t want was any more injuries. I thought I had some really good performances.” (Independent)
You have to wonder the wisdom in Mick McCarthy’s decision to field a second string side for their trip to Old Trafford, perhaps not for footballing reasons alone but also for essentially turning up for a Premier League match and essentially admitting defeat before the referee blew for the kick-off.
You have to feel for the Wolves fans who made the journey to Manchester United only to be greeted with a team sheet that must have had the entire away end shaking its head in disbelief. The former Republic of Ireland boss claims that he didn’t think his players could manage two games in a week but surely that is absurd given that is what football teams have been doing since time and memorial.
I could understand the idea that he might feel that his side has a better chance on the weekend against Burnley but why does that come at the expense of the midweek clash at Manchester United? These are highly paid athletes who last season managed to play far more matches in the Championship than they will ever have to in the top tier.
Also look at the bigger picture Wolves were coming off the back of two straight wins and full of confidence and perhaps could have pulled off something of a shock result but now have suffered a defeat and if I were a fan of the other sides chasing for the title I would be a little peeved that McCarthy didn’t try to get something from the game, after all Burnley didn’t decide to admit defeat when they took on Manchester United at home earlier in the season, and they won! Perhaps this decision will come back to haunt the Wolves boss because its one that is very hard to fathom and is no doubt a decision that has angered his own supporters.