McCarthy under no illusion

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Wolves manager Mick McCarthy knows his side's Barclays Premier League fate will not be decided by the glamour fixtures against the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal.

Birmingham, runners-up to Wolves in the Coca-Cola Championship, will start against champions United on August 15, while Burnley, promoted back to the top flight for the first time since 1976 after winning the play-off final at Wembley, must face Sir Alex Ferguson's men, Liverpool and fellow title challengers Chelsea all in the opening weeks.

But McCarthy, whose side entertain West Ham on the opening day, knows it is what his men are able to do at places like Stoke, Wigan, Sunderland and Hull which will ultimately decide their fate. He said: "I am looking forward to all the big games, going to the best stadiums, but I want to be in the games that we have a chance of winning - and it's not going to be Man United and Arsenal and Liverpool, it's going to be other teams."

He added: "I want to win games, not just go and play at these stadiums and be a manager."

Owen Coyle guided the Clarets to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup last season, knocking out both Chelsea and Arsenal.

However, the Burnley boss knows next season will be different come August.

"We realise that the cup games are different to the 38 games in the Premier League but, when they come about, my players know the standards involved because of the cup," he said.

"We have to make sure that in each and every game we give the same level of performance as last year, or even surpass that."

The Lancashire side kick off at Stoke before Coyle must then prepare his men for the visit of United on Tuesday, August 18, a home game against Europa League qualifiers Everton ahead of travelling to Chelsea on August 29 and then Anfield on September 12.

"What a fantastic start to have. It does not come any tougher and we are under no illusions about how difficult it will be," said Coyle, who was linked with the Celtic job during the summer. "But it is fantastic that we are even talking about it in the same breath as Burnley Football Club and we aim to make the most of it. We know what it is about and we will be ready to give it our best."

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