Phil Shaw: Difficult decision, said the chairman. Not for Wolves fans

Supporters took to the phone-ins to condemn McCarthy for a lack of balance in his line-up

The day of a crushing 5-1 home defeat by their closest and bitterest rivals was not, with hindsight, the most auspicious time for Wolverhampton Wanderers' programme to trumpet the availability of "Early Bird" season tickets for 2012-13 with the headline "On sale tomorrow!" No sooner had the renewal hotline opened yesterday than Mick McCarthy learnt that Sunday's 5-1 rout by West Bromwich Albion had booked his ticket out of Molineux.

The graffiti was on the wall for McCarthy after the previous home fixture when Steve Morgan, Wolves' owner and chairman, broke with protocol by entering the dressing room to berate the players following the 3-0 defeat by Liverpool. Morgan was abroad for the derby debacle, but he squirmed through the match on TV. McCarthy was not Morgan's choice, having been in charge of Wolves for a year before the Merseyside businessman bought control in 2007, yet he led them to promotion to the Premier League two years later.

Since then, however, McCarthy's fallibility as a top-flight manager and the club's tendency to spend conservatively in the transfer market have combined to leave the team battling against relegation for the third year running.

The statement which announced his departure spoke of a "difficult decision" to terminate his contract. But it noted "a run [that] has seen Wolves pick up only 14 points from the last 22 league games after a promising start to the season". Indeed, in statistical terms, it was becoming increasingly hard to make a case for the former Republic of Ireland manager's survival. His 101 Premier League matches with Wolves delivered only 99 points (he had an even worse record at Sunderland); they had drawn once and lost six of the last seven at home, Albion emulating Aston Villa and Birmingham by winning derbies there; they had won just once in 13 matches, at 10-man QPR; and they had not kept a clean sheet in 23 outings since September.

McCarthy, a likeable, straight-talking Yorkshireman, justifiably pointed to circumstances conspiring to undermine his efforts. After losing Karl Henry to suspension, it was unfortunate that the similarly combative Emmanuel Frimpong, on loan from Arsenal, suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament.

Without them, Wolves' midfield was overrun by Albion, though it did not help that the home line-up was heavily loaded with attacking players. That played into the hands of Roy Hodgson's side, who demonstrated the counter-attacking qualities that have brought 21 points away from home. Wolves appeared one-dimensional by comparison, often resorting to a long-ball game that Hodgson, Norwich's Paul Lambert and Swansea's Brendan Rodgers have shown to be outmoded.

Irate fans took to the phone-ins to condemn McCarthy for the lack of balance in his line-up, which at first had striker Kevin Doyle operating in right-midfield and later saw burly forward Sylvan Ebanks-Blake uncomfortable in a wide-left role.

They complained, too, of square pegs in round holes, leading to a shambolic second-half display that had echoes of a similar collapse against Liverpool. Roger Johnson, the captain and the club's only major signing last summer, has had a torrid time. Repeatedly exposed by Albion's technical and tactical savvy, the former Birmingham man's poor form has underlined the criticism of Wolves' habit of buying players from relegated clubs.

That said, McCarthy's best buy, Steven Fletcher, came for £7m after Burnley's relegation. The Scot's 10 goals include a sublime equaliser that provided illusory hope on Sunday, so he will be a key figure in fighting the drop. But, as with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, it is hard to see him staying if Wolves fail to scramble clear as they did last season via a goal with three minutes of the final match remaining.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...