McCarthy praises hungry Wolves

Molineux manager believes win over Wigan proves his side can compete in top flight
Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Wolves manager Mick McCarthy believes his players have proved to him and themselves they can compete in the Premier League. They bounced back from a 2-0 defeat to West Ham at Molineux on Saturday to win 1-0 at Wigan on Tuesday night – their first top-flight away victory in 30 attempts.

There were obvious doubts about how last season's Championship winners would acquit themselves among the elite, but McCarthy has already seen enough to believe they can survive. "Everyone keeps asking me what have we learnt. We know what the Premier League's about, if we are learning anything it is about ourselves," he said.

"I asked the players if they thought they could play in the Premier League and Karl Henry said, 'Yeah'. I thought it was a great answer but I asked him 'How did you know?' He didn't know but he's confirmed to himself and to me and what I have thought about everybody in that they can play in the Premier League."

One of the star performers at the DW Stadium was lone striker Andy Keogh, who scored with a glancing header, hit a post and should have had a second-half penalty. McCarthy was full of praise for the Republic of Ireland international, who he hopes will be boosted by his display.

"Keogh has been stand-out pre-season and as soon as the season started he has been terrific," said the Wolves manager. "I'm thrilled for him. It is all right playing well in the Premier League but it is scoring goals in it as a striker and Keogh has done that. Keogh is perfect for that role, he has just got the lungs of a racehorse and just keeps going. But his football and his set-up play were good as well. Andy has proved he can score in the Premier League and we have proved we can win in the Premier League."

McCarthy was without six key players, including strikers Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle and defender Kevin Foley, but felt the players who came in did enough to make competition tough within the squad.

"Richard Stearman came in and had a great game at right-back, Dave Edwards came in and had a really good game behind the front man," he added. "They have put themselves up for selection by their performances. No one is immune from the hook."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, is convinced his players will succeed in making the successful transition to his brand of football. After Saturday's surprise 2-0 victory at Aston Villa, the Latics slipped to an unexpected defeat .

The Wolves goal signalled a 20-minute spell in which the hosts looked completely lost as they found themselves caught in two minds. Martinez has preached a passing football mantra since taking over in June but most of the side have been schooled in former manager Steve Bruce's methods of playing the percentages and it made for uncomfortable viewing for fans hoping to see the dawn of a new era at the DW Stadium.

Wigan improved after settling down following some words of encouragement from Martinez during the interval and, although they could not find the equaliser, their Spanish manager drew a lot of positives from their second-half performance. "In the second half the players showed a good mentality to keep their composure, to know what we want to do and dictate the game, which is something we have to get really good at – especially playing at home," said Martinez. "It would have been really easy to throw the towel in and not understand what was needed. Even in situations where the whole environment could have got frustrating, we found the answers, although we did not create enough chances.

"I felt we dictated the play really well in the second half without creating the chances and that is something we need to improve. Overall I was pleased but we probably did not have that final boost of energy to create those chances. We've had a lot of new players at the club and it will take a little bit of time to get that chemistry and those partnerships going."

Wigan looked worryingly exposed at set-pieces in the first half – Keogh scored from an unchallenged header while the unmarked Greg Halford blazed over a corner from eight yards – but Martinez did not feel it was an underlying problem. "It was just a lack of concentration in the two set-pieces we did not defend well," he said.