Tag Archives: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Premier League Files: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Premier League Career: Wolverhampton Wanderers (2009-2012)

Now 32, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake still plays football in the lower reaches of the English pyramid. He is currently in the Midland League Premier Division, which sits at level 10 of the system, playing for Walsall Wood. They are actually his eighth club since his most productive spell came to an end in 2013 at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Ebanks-Blake’s youth days saw him have spells with Cambridge United and Manchester United. He actually turned down a scholarship with Cambridge to join the Manchester United Academy in 2002. Two years later, he played his first senior match which was a League Cup tie away at Crewe Alexandra but towards the end of the season, he fractured his leg and fell down the pecking order in their reserves setup. He never made a league appearance for Manchester United although he was an unused substitute in several UEFA Champions League games.

After a brief nine-game loan spell at Royal Antwerp in Belgium in 2006, he moved to Plymouth Argyle that summer on a three-year deal. The Pilgrims were in the Championship and managed by the charismatic Ian Holloway. He was Holloway’s first signing and scored 10 times in his first season at Argyle. He struck another 11 goals in the first half of the 2007-2008 campaign and that form attracted the attention of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves activated a buyout clause in his contract and signed him in January 2008 for £1.5 million. He would go on to play 177 times in league football for the Midlands club, scoring 61 times. Ebanks-Blake made a brilliant start to life at Molineux. He scored seven goals in his first eight matches for the club and actually ended up winning the Championship Golden Boot for 2007-2008, finishing with figures of 23 goals for the season between the two clubs he represented.

He retained the Golden Boot in 2008-2009 with another 25 goals, helping Wolves reach the Premier League as champions of the second-tier. This was the season where he scored the first hat-trick of his professional career, achieved in February 2009 against Norwich City. Wolves rewarded this form by offering him a new four-year contract.

Having excelled in the Championship, there was excitement that he could reproduce the form in the top-flight but it didn’t quite materialise. He scored just twice in 2009-2010 against Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers in a pair of 1-1 draws. With Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher now amongst the competition, Ebanks-Blake was no longer a guaranteed starter but in 2010-2011, he did chip in with seven goals in 28 matches including a goal at Old Trafford against his former club, although that came in a 2-1 defeat.

Knee ligament damage early on in 2011-2012 restricted him to 23 appearances and just one goal against Norwich City. Wolves were relegated at the end of the season. He regained some goalscoring form in 2012-2013 but despite his 14 league goals, Wolves struggled back in the Championship and suffered a second consecutive relegation. He was released at the end of the season.

A broken fibula and sprained ankle meant Ebanks-Blake remained a free agent until his full recovery from injury and in December 2013, he signed for Ipswich Town, linking up again with Mick McCarthy. He made only nine appearances in the Championship, failing to score and was released at the season’s end.

Since then, Ebanks-Blake has operated at a level no higher than League One. He has played for Preston North End, Chesterfield, Shrewsbury Town, AFC Telford United, Halesowen Town and Barwell.

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Great Goals: Johan Elmander – Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. BOLTON WANDERERS (November 2010)

Johan Elmander’s time in English football was mixed but he did enjoy a rich vein of form at Bolton Wanderers during the 2010-2011 season. The Swede scored this magnificent goal which was down to individual brilliance at Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers in November 2010.

Bolton were already 1-0 infront when Elmander produced this clever moment. Stuart Holden made a run into the penalty area and found the nomadic striker. His back was to-goal but with a silky backheel, he got away from two opposition defenders in Karl Henry and George Elokobi before finding the bottom corner of the net beyond the dive of Marcus Hahnemann.

It was one of 10 league goals he managed in the season and in a poll ran by The Guardian newspaper ahead of the 20,000th goal scored by Marc Albrighton in December 2011, it was voted the greatest-ever goal in Premier League history.

Shock Results: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Manchester United (February 2011)

Goalscorers: Nani 3, George Elokobi 10, Kevin Doyle 40

Teams:

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Christophe Berra, George Elokobi, Richard Stearman, Ronald Zubar, Adam Hammill (Stephen Ward 65), Karl Henry, Nenad Milijas (Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 89), Jamie O’Hara (Kevin Foley 59), Matt Jarvis, Kevin Doyle

Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar, Jonny Evans (Chris Smalling 65), Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Rafael, Michael Carrick (Paul Scholes 45), Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Nani, Dimitar Berbatov (Javier Hernandez 65), Wayne Rooney

Referee: Michael Oliver, Attendance: 28,811

Wolverhampton Wanderers looked in desperate relegation trouble as the 2010-2011 Premier League season entered the month of February. Mick McCarthy’s side had conceded late in the midweek defeat to Bolton Wanderers and were bottom of the table when league leaders Manchester United travelled to Molineux for a Saturday evening kick-off.

It had already been a spectacular goal-filled afternoon with 37 goals in seven earlier Saturday matches and another three followed here, with one of the biggest surprises of the campaign so far. Wolves had already shown they could upset the big teams and had defeated Manchester City, Liverpool FC and Chelsea during the campaign. However, Sir Alex Ferguson’s champions-elect were on a 29-match unbeaten run in the Premier League, the third-longest in the competition’s history.

The formbook indicated the visitors should leave the Midlands with all three points and inside three minutes, they were already into the lead. In some of the best form of his Manchester United career, Nani broke down the right-hand side of the pitch, twisted and turned past George Elokobi and fired a left-footed shot inside Wayne Hennessey’s near post. The Portuguese international was starting to finally fulfil his potential that had always been evident since his 2007 transfer from Sporting Lisbon.

However, their advantage lasted a meagre seven minutes. Matt Jarvis produced an excellent cross into the danger area and Elokobi made amends for being beaten comprehensively for Nani’s goal with a towering header for his first goal of the season. Ferguson’s side had lost Rio Ferdinand in the warm-up to a calf injury and his leadership was being missed, as his replacement Jonny Evans struggled to deal with Wolves’ strong physical presence on proceedings.

Buoyant by the equaliser, Wolves began to sense the Red Devils were there for the taking. On-loan midfielder, Jamie O’Hara was making his debut for the club and he impressed throughout, forcing 40-year-old goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar into an improvised save whilst Nenad Milijas saw a free-kick nearly creep past the Dutchman via a nasty deflection off Nemanja Vidic.

Then, Wolves got a deserved lead five minutes before the interval. From another Milijas set-piece, Kevin Doyle just beat teammate Elokobi to the header and for the second time in the evening, United had been completely bullied at a set-piece scenario. Wolves were ahead and the impossible result suddenly looked like a distinct possibility.

There was a lack of response from the Red Devils after the break. Even the introduction of veteran midfielder Paul Scholes and expert substitute Javier Hernandez couldn’t break Ferguson’s side out of their slumber. Scholes even got booked in the closing stages for a deliberate handball when attempting to meet a cross.

Wolves claimed another impressive victory, repeating their 2004 success over Manchester United and it was a vital result as they avoided relegation on the final day of the season in dramatic circumstances.

Premier League Files: Steven Fletcher

Premier League Career: Burnley (2009-2010), Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010-2012), Sunderland (2012-2016)

Steven Fletcher has often been a standout player in teams that have often struggled in the Premier League. The Scotsman has finished as top scorer for his clubs in relegation campaigns with both Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, his most impressive spell was arguably his four-year stint at Sunderland which came to an end at the start of 2016. Fletcher now plays in the SkyBet EFL Championship for Sheffield Wednesday.

Born in Shrewsbury, Fletcher spent much of his early childhood living in army bases in both Germany and England. His father was a soldier but died in 1997 after a battle with cancer. It was decided that he should relocate to Scotland with his Scottish mother and he was spotted by John Park, who was a youth coach at Hibernian. He joined the club’s youth network at the age of 13.

Fletcher made his club debut with the Edinburgh side in April 2004, coming on as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Kilmarnock. He scored 43 goals in 156 Scottish Premier League games for Hibs, netting his first professional hat-trick in a win over Gretna during the 2007-2008 campaign. He also won Young Player of the Year honours during his time at Easter Road two years in a row.

In January 2009, Hibs blocked a January move to Celtic which left the striker unamused. He argued: “For the development of my career, it is time to move to a bigger club.” In June 2009, he did leave the club – not for Celtic but for Premier League new boys Burnley in a club-record fee of £3 million. He had to wait until October for his first goal in England’s top-flight which came in a 2-1 victory at home to Birmingham City. He was voted Burnley’s Players’ Player of the Season and ended as the club’s top goalscorer, netting eight times. However, the Clarets’ lack of quality was evident after Owen Coyle vacated the managerial post for Bolton Wanderers and they were relegated from the Premier League in April 2010.

Soon after Burnley’s demise back to the Championship, Steven was transferred to Wolverhampton Wanderers, who forked out £6.5 million for his services. He made a dream start, scoring on his home debut on the opening weekend of the season as Wolves edged out Stoke City 2-1. Near the end of his first full season, he made himself a real fan favourite with the club after scoring twice in a priceless Black Country Derby triumph over West Bromwich Albion. They were vital goals as Wolves just about avoided relegation on a dramatic final day.

Personally, he improved even further in 2011-2012, scoring 12 goals but the club struggled once again and failed to win another league game after Mick McCarthy’s sacking in mid-February. With Wolves going down, Fletcher was a prized asset who had to be sold to reduce the wage bill and Martin O’Neill was very interested in bringing him to Sunderland.

Wolves drove a hard bargain and it took a transfer request from the player to eventually force the move through. It cost Sunderland £12 million but it looked money well-spent when he scored in his first four matches for the club, winning the Premier League Player of the Month award for September 2012 for his flying start in a Black Cats jersey.

He was handed the no.9 shirt for the 2013-2014 season and after an injury ruled him out of the previous season’s run-in, he returned instantly with a goal away at Crystal Palace, although it came in a losing cause. Fletcher had a knack for popping up with crucial goals throughout his career against local rivals. He did it for Sunderland against Newcastle United, scoring in home victories over the Magpies in October 2013 and 2015.

By now, injuries were restricting his goalscoring threat, as was the form of Jermain Defoe which was often keeping Fletcher out of the team. His goalscoring exploits were now being saved for international representation with Scotland. In 2015, he became the first player since Colin Stein against Cyprus in 1969 to score a hat-trick for The Tartan Army, seven years after making his international bow against Croatia.

After scoring 23 goals in 108 matches for Sunderland, he finished the 2015-2016 season with a loan spell in France with Marseille, scoring twice in matches against Toulouse and Troyes. He did start the 2016 Coupe de France final which ended for Marseille in a 4-2 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain.

Sunderland released the Scotsman on his return to these shores and he joined Sheffield Wednesday on a four-year deal in July 2016, still remaining with the Owls today. The closest he has come to playing Premier League football again was the Championship play-offs of 2017 where Wednesday lost their semi-final to eventual winners Huddersfield Town on penalties.

Memorable Matches: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-5 West Bromwich Albion (February 2012)

Goalscorers: Peter Odemwingie 34, 77, 88, Steven Fletcher 45, Jonas Olsson 64, Keith Andrews 85

Teams:

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Sebastien Bassong (Christophe Berra 61), Kevin Foley, Roger Johnson, Stephen Ward, David Edwards (Nenad Milijas 69), Jamie O’Hara, Matt Jarvis, Kevin Doyle, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Steven Fletcher

West Bromwich Albion: Ben Foster, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Liam Ridgewell, Steven Reid, Paul Scharner (Keith Andrews 46), Youssouf Mulumbu, James Morrison, Jerome Thomas (Simon Cox 76), Marc-Antoine Fortune, Peter Odemwingie (Graham Dorrans 89)

Referee: Lee Mason, Attendance: 27,131

Roy Hodgson needed a result ahead of this Black Country Derby in February 2012. West Bromwich Albion had won just one of their previous seven matches and were looking in a precarious position. Wolves were reeling them in and had notched up a vital win eight days earlier away at Queens Park Rangers. So the outcome was a real surprise for both sets of supporters.

West Brom took the lead after 34 minutes. Peter Odemwingie was allowed to cut inside far too easily and his strike on-goal took a massive deflection off David Edwards to completely deceive Wayne Hennessey. The visitors deserved the lead for their early sustained pressure on the Wolves goal.

However, in the final seconds of the first half, Wolves levelled against the run of play. The front three of Kevin Doyle, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake and Steven Fletcher linked up brilliantly and Fletcher’s shot went through the legs of a West Brom defender, leaving Ben Foster unsighted and unable to stop the shot from going in.

West Brom regained the lead on 64 minutes. Gareth McAuley hit a post from a corner but the home side failed to clear their lines. McAuley’s centre-back partner, Jonas Olsson tried his luck and Hennessey allowed the ball to slip through his grasp and just over the goal-line. The goalkeeper should have done better but teammate Jamie O’Hara did interfere with his vision at the crucial moment.

In truth, Hodgson’s side had completely dominated this Black Country Derby and with 13 minutes left, they finally established a winning lead. Yet again, Wolves failed to deal with a set-piece. Liam Ridgewell got an unchallenged header at the back post. Olsson played his part with a nice flick into the path of Odemwingie and the forward stabbed the ball into the net from close-range.

Wolves’ humiliation was almost complete five minutes from full-time. Keith Andrews, who had started his professional career at Molineux, found the net to make it 4-1. Again, another deflection had got the better of Hennessey. The visiting supporters loved this and more joy was to come. Odemwingie completed his hat-trick moments before he was substituted. It was his finest performance in a West Bromwich Albion shirt and this result remains West Brom’s biggest victory in their Premier League history.

It was a perfect way for Hodgson to celebrate a year in-charge as manager but the repercussions of this hefty defeat were huge for Wolves. Mick McCarthy was sacked 24 hours later and they failed to win another game before the end of the season as they were relegated to the Championship.

The Managers: Mick McCarthy

Premier League Clubs Managed: Sunderland (2003, 2005-2006), Wolverhampton Wanderers (2009-2012)

In February 2019, Mick McCarthy will turn 60. McCarthy enjoyed some time out of the game after his reign at the helm of Championship club Ipswich Town came to an end in April 2018. However, he returned to the international scene in November 2018, agreeing to take charge of the Republic of Ireland for a second time. McCarthy has had the unique honour of playing and coaching the Republic of Ireland at two different World Cup finals. He also enjoyed a three-season stint in the Premier League as manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Born in Barnsley, McCarthy started his playing career with the Tykes and that was to be his longest spell with any club in his playing days. Barnsley were in the bottom-tier of English football when he made his professional bow in 1977 and as a strong central defender, he helped them to promotion in 1980. He made 272 league appearances for the Yorkshire side, scoring seven goals. In December 1983, he moved to Manchester City, experiencing top-flight football in England for the first time.

In 1987, he went north of the border to play for Celtic which is where McCarthy enjoyed his most successful spell in terms of silverware. He was part of the Celtic side that won the Scottish League and Cup double in 1988 and another Scottish Cup followed a year later. Mick was part of the final Celtic side to win the championship before Rangers’ nine-season stranglehold on the Scottish league title. A move to Lyon followed but he didn’t play as much as he wanted and he moved back to English football on the eve of the 1990 World Cup finals with a loan switch to Millwall.

Although the Lions were relegated, McCarthy did more than enough to protect his place in Jack Charlton’s squad for the tournament in Italy and also earned himself a permanent move to London. Injuries restricted him to just 29 appearances in the next two seasons and he effectively retired from playing in 1992. However, a new challenge was to wait for him at the club where he finished his playing days.

For Ireland, McCarthy won 57 caps for his country, qualifying to play for them because he had an Irish father. He made his international debut in 1984 and featured in all three group games of the Republic’s first major international tournament which was the 1988 European Championships. His respect within the camp meant he was awarded the captaincy and he never shied away from making a crunching tackle. In fact, McCarthy committed more fouls than any other player during the 1990 World Cup. In their debut World Cup adventure, Ireland made the quarter-finals before going out to hosts Italy.

Starting out at Millwall

In March 1992, McCarthy became Millwall player-manager following the departure of Bruce Rioch. Although he was still registered as a player, Mick’s focus was soely on management – so much so, he only made one further playing appearance after his appointment.

In 1993-1994, Millwall launched a serious challenge for promotion to the Premier League, finishing in third place in the final standings and only narrowly missing out on automatic promotion. Heartbreak would follow with defeat in the semi-finals to Derby County and it was Leicester City who would win the third promotion place, despite finishing below the Lions in the table.

In December 1995, Millwall topped the table before a cataclysmic display away at Roker Park, losing 6-0 to Sunderland. It was around this time that McCarthy became the frontrunner for the vacant Republic of Ireland job after Charlton retired as team manager. The speculation did little to help Millwall’s club form and eventually in February 1996, he was officially appointed as Ireland’s new manager. Millwall ended the season with relegation whilst McCarthy was ready for his big international break.

Japan and Keane

Initially, he couldn’t weave the magic on the team that Charlton had achieved. The Republic of Ireland were beaten by Belgium in a two-legged qualifying play-off for the 1998 World Cup finals. They also missed out on the party for the 2000 European Championships in Holland and Belgium. Better luck was to follow in 2002.

Drawn in a tricky group alongside European semi-finalists Portugal and Holland, expectations were low but Ireland delivered and a 1-0 victory over the Dutch in Dublin in September 2001 guaranteed them a top two finish, ensuring Louis van Gaal’s side would fail to qualify for their first World Cup since 1986. That took them into another play-off, this time against Iran. A narrow 2-1 play-off victory over the Asian side meant the Republic qualified for their first major tournament in eight years. It was meant to be an exciting opportunity in Japan and South Korea.

However, the tournament build-up was dominated by a public spat between McCarthy and his skipper, Roy Keane. Keane openly questioned the training facilities that had been allocated by the FAI, then thought preparations were too laidback going into the country’s third World Cup finals. Insults were thrown by the player and McCarthy decided to send him home without kicking a ball in the tournament.

Despite this negative build-up, McCarthy rallied his side through the group stage. Robbie Keane scored three goals, including a dramatic injury-time equaliser to earn a draw with eventual finalists Germany. The likes of Gary Breen, Damien Duff and Steve Finnan flourished throughout the competition but Ireland were knocked out on penalties by Spain in the round-of-16 after a 1-1 draw. In total, they missed four spot-kicks in the match – one in regular time and three in the shootout.

A poor start to qualification for the 2004 European Championships saw McCarthy step down from his role in November 2002. In total, he won 29 of 68 internationals during his six-year spell as national team manager.

Sorry Sunderland

In March 2003, Sunderland sacked Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill as their management team after losing six successive matches. McCarthy, who had been shortlisted for the job before Wilkinson’s controversial appointment, took over the sinking ship. Relegation was virtually a guarantee when he was appointed and sure enough, Sunderland’s Premier League fate was confirmed a month later. They lost every single game after his appointment as manager.

The 2003-2004 season in the First Division was considered as a disappointment. Sunderland did reach the play-offs but lost a semi-final penalty shootout to Crystal Palace who would eventually win the play-off final. However, the turnaround of the club was completed with the Championship title in 2005, recording 94 points on their way to the title.

In 2005-2006, life became incredibly difficult at the higher level for both the team and the manager. The Black Cats lost their first five matches and he actually never won a home Premier League game at The Stadium of Light. There were away victories over Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion but with 10 games remaining in the campaign, McCarthy was dismissed with the club 16 points from safety in March 2006. Ironically, Roy Keane was appointed as the next permanent boss.

Keeping Wolves in the top-flight

He was out of the game for just four months before taking over at Wolverhampton Wanderers, replacing Glenn Hoddle in the hotseat. His first two campaigns at Molineux saw the club finish sixth and seventh respectively, losing another play-off semi-final to West Bromwich Albion and missing out on a top six result in 2008 only on goal difference.

Promotion to the Premier League was secured in April 2009 with a 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers and the Championship title followed a week later. Wolves had spent 42 of the 46 matchdays top of the table in 2008-2009 in one of the most dominating second-tier campaigns in recent history. His fine work saw him win the Championship Manager of the Year.

In 2009-2010, survival in the Premier League was the aim for everyone connected with Wolverhampton Wanderers and McCarthy managed to achieve this. Safety was assured with two games remaining and Wolves ultimately finished in 15th place. This was despite being fined £25,000 after the Premier League authorities decided he had fielded a weakened team for a fixture away at Manchester United in December 2009.

The 2010-2011 campaign was even more dramatic. There were thrilling home victories over outgoing champions Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United – ending the latter’s unbeaten start to the season in the process. There was also a fantastic 1-0 away victory at Liverpool FC in December 2010. However, Wolves struggled to find any consistency against the teams in the relegation battle and going into the final day, they were just one point clear of the relegation zone. They lost 3-2 at home to Blackburn Rovers but defeats for Birmingham City and Blackpool meant Wolves avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth. It meant McCarthy became the first Wolves manager in 30 years to maintain the club’s top-flight position for two successive seasons.

Things didn’t go so well in 2011-2012 for McCarthy, despite topping the table after two successive victories. Results didn’t progress and Wolves dropped once again into a relegation scrap. In February 2012, Wolves were embarrassed 5-1 at home by local rivals West Bromwich Albion. 24 hours later, the inevitable happened and McCarthy was sacked after five years and 207 days in the post at Molineux. His long-trusted assistant Terry Connor took over but Wolves failed to win another game after McCarthy’s departure and they were relegated.

After nine months out of the game, he resurfaced at Ipswich Town with Connor joining him as assistant. Despite having one of the smallest wage budgets in the Championship, McCarthy worked miracles with the resources he had available to him. They made the play-offs in 2014-2015 before yet more semi-final frustration, this time at the expense of East Anglian rivals Norwich City. Eventually, things got slightly stale at Portman Road and McCarthy left the club just before the end of the 2017-2018 season.

After leaving Ipswich, McCarthy filled his time as a pundit for both BT Sport and BBC Radio Five Live. However, he was never going to be done with management and after Martin O’Neill left the Republic of Ireland post following a dismal UEFA Nations League campaign, the international job became available again. Mick is back and will lead Ireland into the upcoming European Championship qualifying campaign. It remains to be seen how he does in his second spell managing the Irish national side.

Premier League Rewind: 14th-16th January 2012

Results: Aston Villa 1-1 Everton, Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Fulham, Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland, Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City, Manchester United 3-0 Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Norwich City, Newcastle United 1-0 Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City 3-2 Arsenal, Wigan Athletic 0-1 Manchester City

Three teams seemed to be in the fight for the title race in the 2011-2012 Premier League season. The two Manchester clubs were covered by just three points after 20 matches, whilst Tottenham Hotspur had been on an incredible run of form, losing just once since late August to sit just three points shy of top spot.

The first signs though that the pace was going to catch up on Harry Redknapp and Spurs were evident on this January weekend when they dropped points at home to struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers. Steven Fletcher put the visitors infront after 22 minutes and despite having 28 shots on-goal and 68% possession, the hosts could only muster one goal through Luka Modric early in the second half. It was a missed opportunity for Tottenham.

Manchester United went to the top of the table for 48 hours after a convincing 3-0 success over Bolton Wanderers. It was a wonderful return to the first-team for Paul Scholes. Scholes retired from professional football in May 2011 but decided to reverse his decision in time for the FA Cup third round weekend. On his Premier League return against the Trotters, Scholes opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time. Second half goals from Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick sealed the victory.

However, Manchester City responded on Monday evening with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Wigan Athletic. Edin Dzeko’s 22nd minute goal was the difference as Roberto Mancini’s side regained their three-point advantage at the top of the table.

Chelsea consolidated their position in the top four after a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland. With new signing Gary Cahill watching on in the stands, Frank Lampard’s goal beat the Black Cats, who lost for just the second time since Martin O’Neill had succeeded Steve Bruce as manager in early December. The Blues were now four points clear of Arsenal who went down 3-2 to Swansea City. The Swans were enjoying a fantastic season under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. This win lifted them into 10th position with Danny Graham scoring the winner. It meant Arsenal had lost back-to-back league games to start the 2012 calendar year.

Mark Hughes was back in the managerial dugout having succeeded Neil Warnock at Queens Park Rangers. It would be a losing start though for the Welshman as QPR lost 1-0 to Newcastle United, who moved into the top six and level on points with Arsenal. Leon Best scored the only goal of the game for the Magpies who were the surprise package of the season. QPR had lost six of their last seven matches and were now in the relegation zone.

They replaced Blackburn Rovers who still had the momentum from the fantastic New Years’ Eve victory at Manchester United. Despite having top goalscorer Yakubu sent off after just 23 minutes, Blackburn still had enough to defeat Fulham 3-1. However, just three points covered the bottom five in the table, so it was too close to call at this stage in the fight to survive.

What else happened in January 2012?

  • There are 32 confirmed deaths when passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Italy.
  • Two men are found guilty of the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in April 1993. They are jailed for life.
  • Former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin loses his knighthood as a result of the near collapse of RBS four years earlier.
  • The Scottish Government announces that it plans to hold the referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014.
  • Legendary EastEnders character Pat Butcher, played by Pam St Clement, makes her final appearance in the BBC soap opera. Her character dies in a cancer storyline.
  • The FBI shutdown the Hong Kong-based file-sharing website, Megaupload.
  • Nick Hewer takes over as presenter of Channel 4 teatime show, Countdown.

The Clubs: Wolverhampton Wanderers

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
152 32 40 80 156 281 -125 136 4

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Matt Jarvis 108
Christophe Berra 96
Karl Henry 94
Stephen Ward 94
Kevin Doyle 93
Jody Craddock 81
Richard Stearman 77
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 76
Kevin Foley 74
Wayne Hennessey 71

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Steven Fletcher 22
Kevin Doyle 18
Matt Jarvis 15
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 10
Henri Camara 7
Jody Craddock 7
Stephen Hunt 6
Carl Cort 5
David Edwards 5
Jamie O’Hara 5

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-0 Blackpool 26th February 2011 2010-2011
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 Leeds United 28th December 2003 2003-2004
West Ham United 1-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23rd March 2010 2009-2010
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 West Bromwich Albion 8th May 2011 2010-2011
Sunderland 1-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 14th May 2011 2010-2011
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 Wigan Athletic 6th November 2011 2011-2012
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Middlesbrough 17th April 2004 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Burnley 20th December 2009 2009-2010
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Fulham 21st August 2011 2011-2012
Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-3 Leicester City 25th October 2003 2003-2004

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-5 Chelsea 20th September 2003 2003-2004
Fulham 5-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 4th March 2012 2011-2012
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-5 Manchester United 18th March 2012 2011-2012
Blackburn Rovers 5-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 16th August 2003 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-5 West Bromwich Albion 12th February 2012 2011-2012
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-4 Charlton Athletic 23rd August 2003 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-4 Aston Villa 14th March 2004 2003-2004
Chelsea 4-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 21st November 2009 2009-2010
Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 6th December 2003 2003-2004
Chelsea 5-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 27th March 2004 2003-2004

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Dave Jones 1 1st November 2004
Mick McCarthy 3 13th February 2012
Terry Connor 1 1st July 2012

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Manchester United 17th January 2004 29,396 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Everton 1st May 2004 29,395 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-3 Arsenal 7th February 2004 29,392 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur 15th May 2004 29,389 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Manchester City 4th October 2003 29,386 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-4 Aston Villa 14th March 2004 29,386 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Liverpool FC 21st January 2004 29,380 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Newcastle United 29th November 2003 29,344 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-5 Chelsea 20th September 2003 29,208 2003-2004
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 Leeds United 28th December 2003 29,139 2003-2004

 

Intro

Wolverhampton Wanderers made their Premier League debut in 2003 and in their first season, enjoyed one of their finest results as champions Manchester United were defeated 1-0 at Molineux. Despite having experienced title winners Paul Ince and Denis Irwin in their squad, Wolves were relegated at the first attempt. Another three-year spell followed under Mick McCarthy’s guidance at the start of this decade and they will return to the top-flight after a six-year absence in time for the 2018-2019 season.

 

2003-2004

Wolverhampton Wanderers enjoyed their first top-flight campaign in 20 years and their maiden adventure under the offices of the FA Premier League in 2003-2004. It was always likely to be a season of struggle for manager Dave Jones and his players and that’s how it transpired. Wolves managed just seven league victories all campaign. However, they did pull off the biggest surprise of the season, when Kenny Miller’s second half strike defeating reigning champions Manchester United in January. However, they failed to win a single match away from Molineux and despite beating Everton 2-1 on the penultimate weekend of the season; other results elsewhere condemned Wolves to the drop. They finished bottom and seven points adrift of safety.

 

2009-2010

After five years back in the Championship, Wolves returned to the Premier League in-time for the 2009-2010 campaign with former Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy now at the helm. There were nine new arrivals including a club-record fee paid to Reading for Kevin Doyle. They won their first away match in Premier League history at Wigan Athletic and sat 12th after just six games. A terrible run of form did follow which saw the club drop into the bottom three and McCarthy attracted criticism for fielding a weakened side at Old Trafford and was fined £25,000. It was worth the financial penalty as Wolves beat Burnley in their very next match.

March was the turning point in the season. A draw with Aston Villa and crucial victories away at Burnley and West Ham United lifted Wolves comfortably away from danger. Their survival was confirmed on 25th April when Burnley lost at home to Liverpool FC, meaning the Clarets had no hope of catching the Midlands club. Although they scored the fewest goals in the season (32) of any side in the Premier League, 38 points were gained and Wolves finished a respectable 15th.

 

2010-2011

Five new additions were made in the summer to Wolves’ squad, including the arrival of long-time target Stephen Hunt from relegated Hull City and the £6.5 million capture of Steven Fletcher, equalling the club’s transfer record. Wolves went unbeaten through August but after losing in injury-time to Fulham, went on a run of five defeats in their next six games. It was clear that it was going to be another season of battling against the drop.

McCarthy’s side would excel in games where they were not expected to get any points. They achieved their first win at Anfield since 1984, beat reigning champions Chelsea at Molineux and ended Manchester United’s 29-match unbeaten sequence with a 2-1 success in February. In fact, Arsenal were the only side in the top six to beat Wolves twice during the campaign.

With three games left, Wanderers were in the drop zone but then recorded crucial back-to-back 3-1 victories over West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland to ensure they started the final round of games outside the relegation placings. They faced Blackburn Rovers on a nail-biting final day but experienced a dreadful first half, losing 3-0 at the interval. As results at the other grounds progressed, a one-goal defeat would be enough to keep Wolves in the top-flight. In the 87th minute, Stephen Hunt delivered an unstoppable shot that flew into the back of the net. Despite losing on the day, Wolves had avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth.

 

2011-2012

There was a positive start to Wolves’ fourth Premier League campaign and for a few hours in the opening fortnight, they actually sat top of the table after two successive victories over Blackburn Rovers and Fulham. That was to be the high of what turned out to be a thoroughly depressing and disappointing campaign.

Wolves set an unwanted club-record of failing to keep a clean sheet in 30 successive league matches and also won just one of their last 24 games. After a 5-1 home humbling by Black Country rivals West Bromwich Albion, Mick McCarthy was sacked in mid-February. Alan Curbishley was offered the job but declined to take over and it was left to McCarthy’s former assistant, Terry Connor to guide the club through the remainder of the season.

It was disastrous. He failed to win any of his 13 league matches in control and a 2-0 home loss to Manchester City consigned Wolves to relegation three games before the end of a frustrating season.

Amazingly, a second successive relegation followed in the Championship but Wolves have fought back and will return to the top-flight in time for the 2018-2019 season.

Great Goals: Raul Meireles – Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. LIVERPOOL FC (January 2011)

Roy Hodgson’s tenure as Liverpool FC manager was a painful one for many of the club’s supporters but one of the best bits of business he did do was to bring in the Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles from FC Porto.

It took Meireles a little bit of time to settle into the Premier League but he scored a flurry of goals in January and February 2011 and this was his best strike – a cracking volley away at Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Liverpool were leading 1-0 thanks to a first half strike from Fernando Torres when Meireles tried his luck five minutes after the interval. A long ball over the top was headed away by a Wolves defender. Meireles watched the ball all the way and connected sweetly as it dropped from the sky. Wayne Hennessey could only stand and watch as the ball hit the back of the net.

Liverpool FC won 3-0 and it was the first win in the second managerial reign for Kenny Dalglish. It was part of a run that saw Meireles score in five of the next six matches but he would leave the club surprisingly in the summer of 2011, joining Torres at Chelsea to win the UEFA Champions League a year later.

Premier League Rewind: 13th-15th March 2010

Results: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City 2-2 Everton, Bolton Wanderers 4-0 Wigan Athletic, Burnley 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea 4-1 West Ham United, Stoke City 0-0 Aston Villa, Hull City 1-2 Arsenal, Manchester United 3-0 Fulham, Sunderland 1-1 Manchester City, Liverpool FC 4-1 Portsmouth

The race for the title, Champions League qualification and the fight to stay in the Premier League was really starting to liven up by the time these mid-March fixtures came around in 2010.

While some teams were still trying to catch up in terms of fulfilling their fixtures due to cup commitments and winter weather, the majority only had eight more games to make the decisive difference in all these areas.

At the top of the table, just two points covered Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. All three sides won again to ensure status quo in the title race. Chelsea were first to play on this weekend and they cruised to a 4-1 victory over London rivals West Ham United. Didier Drogba, competing for the Golden Boot against Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, scored twice for the home side. However, the goal of the match came from ex-Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker, who struck a wonderful shot from distance that left third-choice goalkeeper Ross Turnbull completely stranded. Parker’s performances were sensational in a team that were fighting relegation.

The win briefly took Chelsea top and Arsenal would join them on 64 points after scrapping to a 2-1 away win at Hull City in the Saturday evening kick-off. Despite having George Boateng sent off before half-time, Hull held on for a point until Nicklas Bendtner struck in stoppage-time. The defeat left Hull rooted in the bottom three and having lost their last four matches, they decided to place manager Phil Brown on “gardening leave” two days later.

Manchester United’s chance to respond came 24 hours later and after a stubborn first half display from Fulham, United wore them down in the second half. Rooney responded to Drogba’s double the previous day with his own brace and Dimitar Berbatov’s late goal ensured a 3-0 success over the Cottagers. United were two points clear again but Chelsea did have a game in-hand on their rivals.

In the race for fourth place and the final Champions League qualification spot, it was advantage to Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs beat Blackburn Rovers 3-1 in the opening game of the weekend. There were two goals for Russian forward Roman Pavlyuchenko. Previously having made the headlines for a desire to leave the club, Pavlyuchenko had now scored four goals in his last three matches to keep Harry Redknapp’s side one point clear of the chasing pack.

Big-spending Manchester City dropped to sixth after drawing 1-1 at Sunderland. Only a last-minute equaliser saw them avoid defeat at The Stadium of Light. This allowed Liverpool FC into fifth position in the table. There was another two goals for the Fernando Torres tally as bottom-club Portsmouth were routed 4-1 at Anfield.

At the wrong end of the table, Wolverhampton Wanderers gave themselves a three-point cushion over Burnley after defeating the Clarets 2-1 at Turf Moor. Matt Jarvis and a Clarke Carlisle own goal was enough for Mick McCarthy’s side to complete a league double over their rivals in distress. Bolton Wanderers eased their concerns with a 4-0 triumph against Wigan Athletic with goals coming from Johan Elmander, Kevin Davies, Fabrice Muamba and Matt Taylor. However, with just eight points covering the Trotters in 13th to Hull in 19th, there was still plenty to fight for in the battle to survive.

What else happened in March 2010?

  • Former leader of the Labour Party Michael Foot dies at the age of 96. He was leader of the opposition from 1980 to 1983.
  • The last analogue television services are switched off in Wales, making it the first part of the UK to have a fully digital service.
  • BBC Director-General Mark Thompson confirms proposals to close down BBC Radio 6 Music and the Asian Network as part of cost-cutting measures.
  • A 41-year-old man, who is already two years into a life sentence for murdering two women, is charged with the murder of Surrey teenager Milly Dowler, who disappeared in 2002.
  • Less than a year after their relegation from the Football League, Chester City F.C. goes out of business after 125 years.
  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown gives evidence to the Chilcott inquiry.
  • The Kasubi Tombs, Uganda’s only cultural World Heritage Site, are destroyed by fire.

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (December 2010)

Goalscorers: Stephen Ward 56

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Pepe Reina, Paul Konchesky (Fabio Aurelio 73), Sotirios Krygiakos, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Lucas, Raul Meireles (Joe Cole 73), Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, David Ngog (Ryan Babel 62), Fernando Torres

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Christophe Berra, George Elokobi, Richard Stearman, Stephen Ward (Steven Fletcher 78), Ronald Zubar, Kevin Foley, Nenad Milijas, Stephen Hunt, Matt Jarvis (Dave Edwards 89), Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Referee: Peter Walton, Attendance: 41,614

The final Premier League match of the 2010 calendar year came at Anfield where the storm clouds were hanging over the 18-time English champions. Liverpool FC were in no form, having only won two matches since early November and they were likely to head into 2011 in the bottom half.

However, few gave Wolverhampton Wanderers much of a chance in terms of getting a result. Mick McCarthy’s side turned up on Merseyside bottom of the table following a Boxing Day defeat at home to relegation rivals Wigan Athletic. Wolves also were playing their second game in three days, whilst two successive postponements due to freezing weather meant this was Liverpool’s first league match in 18 days.

Under-fire Roy Hodgson could welcome Steven Gerrard back to his ranks after injury had sidelined him for the last six weeks. However, not even the inspirational captain could fire the Reds up as they lacked any creative spark all evening. The first half of this match was cagey, much to the chagrin of the home supporters. The only shot of any note came from Raul Meireles but his strike was hit straight at Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey without any severe pace.

The visitors looked comfortable as they chased down a first win at Anfield in 27 years and as the second half began, they grew in confidence. Defender Ronald Zubar forced Pepe Reina into the first significant save of either goalkeeper on the night. Then, the home crowd’s frustration turned to a sense of boiling anger 11 minutes into the second half. Sylvain Ebanks-Blake threaded a ball past the Liverpool central defenders. Full-back Stephen Ward had timed his run superbly and kept his composure to slide the ball past the advancing Reina in his 200th Premier League appearance. It wasn’t going to be one for the Spaniard to celebrate.

Hodgson looked like a beleaguered manager who knew results needed to improve and quickly. He brought on Joe Cole and Ryan Babel in a vain attempt to find the spark missing. However, with Gerrard lacking match fitness, Dirk Kuyt looking uncomfortable in a left-wing role and Fernando Torres showing little sign of the world-class form he’d demonstrated previously, Liverpool rarely threatened to spoil Wolves’ evening.

They did have the ball in the net two minutes from time as Martin Skrtel connected perfectly with Gerrard’s free-kick. However, replays showed several LFC players including the goalscorer were standing in offside positions.  At the full-time whistle, it was the visiting supporters celebrating in delirium at their first away win of the season.

Hodgson lasted 10 more days before leaving the Liverpool post after a miserable six months in-charge. He was replaced by Kenny Dalglish, who steered the club to sixth position come the season’s end. Wolves went on to beat reigning champions Chelsea and Manchester United and it was these results against the top teams that ultimately protected their top-flight status for another season.

Memorable Matches: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-3 Blackburn Rovers (May 2011)

Goalscorer: Jason Roberts 22, Brett Emerton 38, Junior Hoilett 45, Jamie O’Hara 73, Stephen Hunt 87

Teams:

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Jody Craddock, George Elokobi, Kevin Foley, Michael Mancienne (Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 46), Stephen Ward, Karl Henry (Adlene Guedioura 85), Jamie O’Hara, Stephen Hunt, Matt Jarvis, Steven Fletcher (Christophe Berra 90)

Blackburn Rovers: Paul Robinson, Gael Givet, Phil Jones, Christopher Samba, Michel Salgado, Jermaine Jonas, Steven N’Zonzi, Martin Olsson, Brett Emerton, Junior Hoilett (Morten Gamst Pedersen 79), Jason Roberts

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 29,009

‘Survival Sunday’ in 2011 was going to be a tense one for five clubs. Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackpool, Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers went into the final day of the season still not safe. It was going to be a remarkable afternoon full of twists and turns.

Two of these sides met at Molineux as Wolves hosted Blackburn. A point would be enough for Blackburn to survive, whilst Wolves really needed the three points as teams below had fixtures that they could easily win. Mick McCarthy’s side came into the match in good form, having beaten West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland in their previous two games, whilst Blackburn, who were sitting seventh in mid-January, had been dragged into the relegation scrap in the season’s closing months.

Steve Kean was a man under pressure. Not wanted by many of the club’s fans after the shock sacking of Sam Allardyce in December 2010, Kean needed his side to deliver a perfect performance and they were sensational in the opening 45 minutes. Their display just added to the nail-biting tension of the afternoon.

Rovers settled quicker and took the lead after 22 minutes. Michel Salgado, a former UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid, fired a shot across the face of goal which was turned into the back of the net by Jason Roberts. That lead was doubled 16 minutes later with the direct approach working for the ex-Premier League champions. Paul Robinson’s kick was only partially cleared by Jody Craddock. Brett Emerton took aim from distance and his strike flew into the back of the net. It was Wolves who were sinking towards the Championship by the interval. The dangerous Junior Hoillett skipped past tame challenges from Craddock and George Elokobi. Once again, Wayne Hennessey was left with no chance whatsoever and at half-time, Wolves were in big trouble.

They had to improve on their dreadful showing in the first 45 minutes and they did improve. With 18 minutes remaining. Stephen Hunt rolled a free-kick back to Jamie O’Hara and the Tottenham loanee managed to find the corner of the net from 20-yards out. However, the situation was constantly changing. Wigan took the lead away at Stoke and when Craig Gardner equalised for Birmingham at White Hart Lane, Wolves were going down on goals scored. They needed one more goal, even in defeat to survive.

It came dramatically with just three minutes of normal time remaining. Hunt received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and bent a riveting shot into the top corner of the net and send Molineux into ecstasy. Even though they were still losing on the day, it looked like they’d done enough. There were celebrations at the full-time whistle from both sets of supporters. Blackburn had got the result, Wolves the goal required to keep them up and everyone inside the ground was happy. Ultimately, it was Birmingham and Blackpool who would feel the pain of relegation on a see-saw afternoon of drama.