McGrath still keeping Wolves from the door

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The Independent Online
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Sheffield United 0

Like Old Man River, Old Dodgy-knees Paul McGrath just keeps rolling along. The Republic of Ireland veteran has stepped down from the top flight for the first time in his career, but he will carry on defying those famously injury-prone limbs despite being unwanted in the Premiership following his release by Derby County.

Fuelled by what he describes as "an insult" by West Ham directors when the club's manager, Harry Redknapp, recently wanted to sign him, the 37- year-old former Manchester United and Aston Villa defender is determined to prove the doubters wrong.

If his display at Molineux was a pointer, McGrath will not only achieve his aim of a one-year contract but will also become one of the signings of the season by newly appointed Blades manager Nigel Spackman.

In a stalemate between teams who both reached last season's First Division promotion playoffs, McGrath's deft touch, aerial power and positional expertise gave the visiting defence such a stranglehold that goalkeeper Simon Tracey did not have a single shot to save.

"It was a very worrying summer", he added. "After Derby let me go I waited for the phone to ring, but it didn't for ages and at the back of my mind I was thinking that nobody might want me. Eventually Harry Redknapp rang and he was brilliant but his chairman and directors said they were worried why Derby had let me go.

"They wanted me to go away with them and watch me play in a couple of games, but I thought `that's an insult'. If the directors wanted to see me play, I just wondered where they had been for the last few years."

So dominant were McGrath and his fellow defenders that home fans had the rare and distressing sight of goal hero Steve Bull being substituted midway through the second half as Wolves tried in vain to find a formula to break down the opposition. Only once did they come close to scoring, Don Goodman glancing a header against a post. Brian Deane, back at United following his pounds 1.5m summer signing from Leeds United, should have done so in the 14th minute but saw his far post volley smartly saved by Mike Stowell.

Nevertheless, Mark McGhee, the Wolves manager, declared himself "delighted" with his team's display and somewhat mysteriously described the goalless draw as "a major result".

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-3-1-2): Stowell; Smith (Wright, 52), Curle, Sedgley, Kubicki; Atkins, Ferguson, Froggatt; Keane; Goodman, Bull (Paatelainen, 60). Substitute not used: Westwood.

Sheffield United (3-5-2): Tracey; Holdsworth, McGrath, Tiler; Borbokis, Marker, Patterson, Whitehouse, Quinn; Kachuro (Scott, 69), Deane. Substitutes not used: Beard, Fjortoft.

Referee: P Danson (Leicester). Booking: Sheffield United: Marker.

Man of the match: Quinn. Attendance: 23,102.