Mick McCarthy's 101st Premier League match as manager of Wolves will be his last if the club's owner, Steve Morgan, heeds the clamour of angry demonstrators after Peter Odemwingie's hat-trick drove West Bromwich Albion to their biggest win in the Black Country derby since 1964.
From the South Bank, normally a soundtrap of old-gold partisanship, came the damning refrain of "You're getting sacked in the morning" as three Albion goals in 11 minutes belatedly produced a scoreline that reflected the overwhelming superiority of Roy Hodgson's team. Afterwards, some 200 Wolves supporters gathered around the Billy Wright statue and sang: "Fuck off, McCarthy, you're taking us down".
There has been no bigger victory for Albion at Molineux since 1893, when it finished 8-0. However, it was the manner as much as the margin of Wolves' fourth consecutive defeat that clearly upset so many of the home faithful. They had hoped the afternoon would end with their team just two points behind their local rivals; instead they finished it eight adrift.
McCarthy, whose side have dropped back into the relegation zone on goal difference, was asked whether he still felt he was the man to keep Wolves up. "I always feel I'm the right person to do it," he replied, while admitting their display was "awful". He added: "The saddest part was we capitulated, which my teams don't do. Apologies all round for that to our fans. That's not us. I've never ever apologised for our performance but I'm going to this time."
The former Republic of Ireland manager insisted he would react to the result and the demands for his head by "keeping his dignity", saying: "To sit here and articulate my feelings immediately after a game would be really difficult, so I'm not going to try."
Hodgson, on his first anniversary as Albion's head coach, was delighted to see his team maintain their top-four away form, which has delivered 21 points, compared with only eight at The Hawthorns. But he felt "sympathy and empathy" for McCarthy, "not just because we're both experienced coaches but because I like him very much. I think he's a very good man.
"Wolverhampton Wanderers can be more than satisfied with what Mick McCarthy has achieved. I think he's done an excellent job and continues to do so. They're one of the most difficult teams to beat in this league. I'm always saddened when those jobs don't get recognised but on the other hand I don't want to appear naïve. I know it's part of the game nowadays that you're under pressure if you lose one or two games. It doesn't matter whether you're God Almighty or Mick McCarthy, people are going to think there are people out there that can do better."
Asked whether he expected Wolves to stay up, Hodgson's response was plainly directed towards Morgan and his chief executive, Jez Moxey. "Yes, if they keep their heads. And I think they will because they have an outstanding owner as well as an outstanding manager. My final comment on the subject is that people should be careful what they wish for."
Wolves went in level at half-time, Steven Fletcher's exquisite flick, turn and volley in time added on cancelling out a goal 11 minutes earlier by Odemwingie, who had cut in from the right on to his left foot to beat Wayne Hennessey via a deflection off David Edwards. They owed their parity to Hennessey's defiance and profligate finishing by a slicker, sharper Albion, and at the start of the second half Wolves briefly threatened to gain ascendancy. Then, after Gareth McAuley headed against a post from Albion's right-wing corner, Roger Johnson's ballooned clearance saw the ball travel only as far as rival captain Jonas Olsson, whose volley was fumbled over the line by Hennessey.
Wolves, conceded McCarthy, began "chasing the game" and were "picked off" by Albion's counter-attacks. Following another corner from the right, the debut-making Liam Ridgewell was allowed a free header, which Olsson deftly back-heeled to Odemwingie, who volleyed home from close range.
Soon, James Morrison left Stephen Ward trailing with a run along the same flank before cutting the ball back for substitute Keith Andrews, a former Wolves player, to strike an impressive goal from 20 yards on his first Albion appearance.
As calls of "You're not fit to wear the shirt" cascaded from the stands, Morrison surged down the opposite wing and crossed for Odemwingie to complete both Wolves' woe and his first Premier League treble via the hands of the cruelly exposed Hennessey.
Wolves: HENNESSEY 7/10; FOLEY 4; JOHNSON 4; BASSONG 4; WARD 3; DOYLE 5; EDWARDS 4; O'HARA 6; JARVIS 4; EBANKS-BLAKE 6; FLETCHER 7
West Brom: FOSTER 7; RIDGEWELL 7; OLSSON 8; McAULEY 6; REID 7; SCHARNER 6; MORRISON 8; MULUMBU 6; THOMAS 7; ODEMWINGIE 9; FORTUNE 8
Substitutes: Wolverhampton Wanderers Berra 4 (Bassong, 61), Milijas 4 (Edwards, 69). West Bromwich Albion Andrews 7 (Scharner, h-t), Cox (Thomas, 76), Dorrans (Odemwingie, 89).
Booked: Wolves O'Hara.
Man of the match Odemwingie. Match rating 8/10.
Possession: Wolves 50% WBA 50%.
Attempts on target: Wolves 8 WBA 24.
Referee L Mason (Lancashire).
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