McCarthy focuses on main action against rivals nursing old scores

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The Independent Football

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has urged his players to focus on the football and not the subplots for Saturday's Premier League match against Fulham.

Wolves' 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage in September was overshadowed when the Fulham striker Bobby Zamora sustained a broken leg following a challenge from the Wolves' captain, Karl Henry.

Soon afterwards, the Fulham midfielder Danny Murphy caused outrage when he accused some managers of pumping up their players before sending them out into a game.

Specifically mentioning Wolves, Blackburn and Stoke, Murphy claimed the players were under orders to stop other teams from playing, and that "no brains" were involved when it came to some tackles.

Throw in the fact that Adlene Guedioura faces Steve Sidwell for the first time since his leg was broken in September following a tackle from the midfielder, who was then with Aston Villa, and there is plenty to spice up the occasion.

McCarthy, however, has reminded his players there is only one subject that deserves any attention, and that is the bottom-of-the-table club's battle to beat the drop.

"I think you'll find that staying up is the bigger story with me. I'm not bothered about anything else," McCarthy told Wolves' website yesterday. "People can always find something in any game, such as one player went to school with someone else, so-and-so went out with someone else's girlfriend, or another player suffered a bad tackle from him or somebody got booked or sent off.

"There is always a subplot which the media all like, but it goes right over my head. None of that garbage washes with me at all because I played enough games against enough people to know there were subplots in all of those.

"You just go and play. I don't think players think too much about all that, and Fulham are a good side.

"I expect a really hard, difficult Premier League game. I watched a DVD of their game against Manchester United [2-0 defeat on 9 April] and they did all right.

"They've good footballers, but I'm sure people will drag up Danny Murphy and all of his comments. I'm sure people will look to drag the backside out of that one, but as usual I'm not interested in talking about it."

As for Guedioura, who spent just over six months on the sidelines before returning to action in a 3-0 home defeat to Everton earlier this month, McCarthy insists there is no lingering ill will.

"It happens – Adlene was most gracious about it," McCarthy added. "He's back playing and that's all that really matters. I never griped about it and I haven't changed my view on it either."