Song remains the same for miserable McCarthy
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 West Ham United 2
Sunday 16 August 2009
Steve Morgan, the Wolves owner, paraded the former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant on the pitch, to announce the club's new vice-president. Yet it was the Wolves manager, Mick McCarthy, who was left dazed and confused on his return to the Premier League. He will know that the 10 months ahead are not likely to be much fun.
McCarthy has cornered the grumpy old man market and he bristled at lines of questioning last week that reminded him of the fact that he has been relegated twice from the Premier League, with Sunderland. His mood was not altered by the way West Ham bade the kind of welcome he had warned his players about. Like a mantra, he chanted about the need to take chances when they came and not to be charitable defensively.
His players chanted with him, but when it came to the crucial time for remembering their lines, they were left mumbling like schoolboys at the back of the choir. Chances were spurned or rebuffed by Robert Green, who made three excellent saves, and two crass defensive errors were made. Game over. Welcome back to the Premier League.
"This was just a confirmation of what we expected," McCarthy said. "I just don't want to be saying that we did well and got nothing very often. I want to win and if we have a lesson to learn it is we have to take chances. We had them and did not take them."
West Ham were far more ruthless. Mark Noble's wonderful curling shot from the edge of the area was possible because he had so long to measure it and Matthew Upson's free header from the England Under-21 international's corner confirmed victory. It was only Upson's second goal for West Ham in 77 games and it came days after he had chatted with his manager, Gianfranco Zola, about being more productive in that area. No doubt it will have further alerted Manchester City, should they fail in their bid for Joleon Lescott.
Zola was more polite about not wanting Mark Hughes' phone calls than David Moyes, but the message was the same. "He is a big person for us and we want him to stay," Zola said of Upson. "He is happy. I can understand why other teams are looking at him, but we do not want to sell him."
Zola has just over two weeks before the transfer window closes and he will battle to avoid any further sales at Upton Park. McCarthy will want to know sooner about the fitness of the striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who could not finish this game because of a hamstring injury.
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