Mick’s been happy with the effort – just a bit more quality required. (©PAphotos)
by Rory Hall
, read by 137 people.
The visit of Sunderland to Molineux on Saturday afternoon is a tough one to call. Part of me thinks that Wolves are almost destined to have their hard work and good performances pay off soon enough.
But Sunderland, a club that Mick McCarthy has enough history with, are looking increasingly dangerous under manager Steve Bruce.
The Black Cats' away form this season, however, is erratic at best; as they managed a hugely impressive 0-3 demolition of current league leaders Chelsea two weeks ago, yet were embarrassed at the hands of fierce local rivals Newcastle two weeks earlier.
Bruce's side are also heavily reliant on two players performing well. Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan have scored the bulk of Sunderland's goals this season - in fact, of the 15 Sunderland have put away, 11 have come from the two strikers. Although Danny Welbeck has weighed in with three goals in his last two games.
For the manager it's great to see his front men doing their job; but the lack of assistance from other areas of the pitch (Nedum Onuoha aside) is most likely perturbing the Sunderland boss.
So, you imagine McCarthy's main plan, first and foremost, will be to silence and frustrate whichever of the front players Bruce selects. The Wolves’ boss has the players at his disposal that are capable of achieving this; unfortunately the one man who would have relished the challenge, Karl Henry, will be unavailable having damaged his cruciate ligaments in the loss to Blackpool.
Who will step into his place is the big question. Someone needs to sit in front of the back four to break up the play and keep Gyan and Bent/Welbeck at bay. Dave Jones could do a job in there but has more to offer going forward; so maybe Mick will opt to push a defender forward into the position.
Ronald Zubar is available after injury and George Elokobi's a big enough lad to put himself amongst them if needs be.
Christophe Berra will unavailable due to suspension and with no sign of Jody Craddock making his return from injury, Richard Stearman looks set, once again, to take his place in central defence in an attempt to nullify Sunderland's attacks.
Hopefully Stearman hasn't been too badly affected by the own goal he scored in the 51st second of the match against Bolton - the last thing Wolves need now is a shaky defence.
Wolves themselves may be worried about where the goals are coming from. As they are playing at home, you'd hope Big Mick would opt for an attacking formation utilising Kevin Doyle with a strike partner to have a go at what looks to be a weakened Sunderland defence - Michael Turner and Titus Bramble both being out of contention at least until the New Year.
A change of fortune for McCarthy and his side is definitely on the cards, you feel but it's not just going to happen of its own accord and with a slightly weaker side he will have to hope that his players all perform at the top of their game.
If the team performs confidently, as a unit then there is every chance of a positive result. But Sunderland are looking dangerous at the moment so Wolves must be wary of being hit hard on the counter.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.