Keeping Wolves up is No 1 priority for Marcus

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The Independent Football

When his former club Reading finished eighth in their first season in the Premier League, Marcus Hahnemann insists, solem-nly, they lost to all the teams who finished above them. The next season, they beat Liverpool and drew with Manchester United, but got relegated. "Go figure."

While factually incorrect – the Royals beat the likes of Spurs and Bolton in their first season – the experienced goalkeeper's point is that as far as Wolves are concerned, today's postponed match at West Ham United was set to have a far greater bearing on their season than their last two games, in which they were beaten by Liverpool and Manchester City.

The importance of getting results against the teams around you is one of a number of lessons Hahnemann, who played nearly 300 games for Reading before moving to Molineux on a free transfer last summer, learned during eight seasons at the Madejski Stadium. Another is that team spirit is not, as some cynics have it, simply an illusion glimpsed in victory.

"When you go out and play and not really care who gets the headlines, the team will go a long way," said Hahnemann. "For example, when the manager [Mick McCarthy] decided to rest a lot of players against Manchester United, nobody threw their toys out of the pram. He thought it was the best thing to do because we had a hard game two days before at Tottenham – and got a result no-one expected – and everyone was, like, OK, maybe I'm disappointed that I don't get a chance to play, because they are games you want to play in, but you know, this is what we are going to do and that was it, everybody backed it."

Signed as back-up to Wayne Hennessey, Hahnemann replaced the young Wales international after Wolves lost 4-0 to Chelsea in November, and retained his place as McCarthy's men chalked up three wins in the next five games. For a man whose lifestyle away from the game is not that of the average footballer, the 37-year-old has been a reassuringly solid presence between the sticks.

Off the field, Hahnemann admits his team-mates eye him somewhat warily. Having gained a pound or two over the summer, Hahnemann decided to cycle into pre-season training, and quickly became addicted. "From where I'm living, I can ride on canal paths and disused railway tracks to the training ground. Gets a bit muddy sometimes, but that's OK, I'm going to get muddy diving around."

Not that he doesn't appreciate a nice car. There is usually a Porsche of some sort in his garage, but it tends to be in bits, because the American enjoys few things more than rebuilding the engine with a view to having it at its best for a track day at Donington Park.

Not the most environmentally friendly hobby, he concedes, but more socially acceptable than mentioning the gun collection he keeps in his home in the States.

With Wigan scheduled for next Saturday the next few matches will define Wolves' season. "The six-pointer thing gets said but it's true because you stop the other teams getting points. It's so important. You have to win the games you should win."