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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game