Stephen Ward: Wolves players are behind Mick McCarthy


Acting skipper Stephen Ward insists Mick McCarthy is still the right person to manage Wolves and has the backing of all the players.

McCarthy has had to endure a trio of nerve-tingling home games against Swansea, Wigan and Sunderland, when there has been speculation that a poor result could see the end of his five-year reign.

A haul of seven points from nine - including yesterday's 2-1 success over Sunderland - have eased those fears, with Wolves now four points clear of the bottom three in the Barclays Premier League.

But Ward, who replaced the axed Roger Johnson as captain against the Black Cats, is adamant McCarthy was always key to Wolves' future.

When asked if McCarthy is the right man to lead Wolves, Ward said: "I think that's a silly question. He has kept us up twice, he has got us to the Premier League.

"A change of manager doesn't always mean a change in fortunes and we are working together as a group to stay in this league.

"I think over the last two years we've done fantastically well.

"You've got to realise it's a really tough league. We could have easily come up and gone straight back down.

"But we've got two seasons in a row behind us at this level and are now looking to make it three.

"All the players are behind Mick," Ward said. "You look at the way we've played against Sunderland.

"We give everything for the manager and the staff because we work day in and day out with them.

"We know how good they are, we know what the manager has done for this club.

"It would be wrong not to go out and give 110% for him because he has done everything for us since a lot of us have joined the club and got us to where we are today.

"We probably wouldn't be playing Premier League football if it wasn't for his guidance."

Ward feels collecting points against fellow strugglers is more crucial than the shock wins achieved last season against the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Liverpool.

He said: "It is crucial. We probably didn't get enough points from the teams around us last season.

"You can't be expected to beat the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea although you want to try and take points from these games.

"If you are needing to win those sort of games to stay up, you are going to give yourself a hard season."

Martin O'Neill has taken charge of Sunderland for the first time today after replacing Steve Bruce as manager and watching the defeat at Wolves from the directors' box.

Assistant-manager Eric Black, who was in charge for the Wolves game, refused to blame the events leading up to the fixture via Bruce's departure as a reason for the defeat.

He said: "I wouldn't use what had been happening before the game as an excuse. The players are all exceptionally good people and they've handled things really well.

"It's been a difficult week and I don't underestimate that. The players were quiet for a day or so but, as the game got closer, they were totally focused.

"I couldn't have asked for anything more of them in terms of their preparation.

"I felt there was a decent presence about them on the morning of the game and I think their performance showed there's a good type of person in that dressing room with a good work ethic about them."



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