Being the arrogant supporter of one of the "big four" from the elite Premier League (clue: we are the only one of the big four that have never actually won the "premier" league), I must admit that the only time I really give the lower leagues, such as the Coca Cola Championship, any significant attention is usually when the season is coming to a conclusion. I would never be able to give any good betting tips on who will most likely be promoted/relegated. Although, to the Championships credit, you never really know how the season will pan out, as it doesn't suffer from the predictability that the Premier League does. I am still amazed that Stoke and Hull are in the Premier League, how and when did that happen?
Such is my lack of knowledge beyond the Premier League, that it was only last week that I, first realised that Wolverhampton Wanderers would more than likely gain automatic promotion, and secondly that life long Liverpool supporter Steve Morgan, whom had been thwarted countless times in his attempts to buy Liverpool, was now the owner of Wolves for a paltry tenner! Was the reason he was shunned repeatedly from the Liverpool oak wood negotiation table, due to the dog eared ten pound note he kept slapping on it?
Morgan's sound investment, looks to be paying early dividends as Wolves secured Premier League status with their 1-0 win at home to QPR during the week, signaled by a good old pitch invasion at the final whistle. A vision which had me wondering if an old Uni friend of mine was ignoring the stewards futile attempts to suppress euphoria, and had joined the many thousands celebrating with players on the Molineux pitch. Scenes which will probably be repeated in their last home game of the season this Sunday, after they wrapped up the Championship title following the 1-1 draw with Barnsley.
I can not imagine what it must be like for your club to gain promotion, but Morgan gave some perspective after claiming the sensation beat that of the 2005 Liverpool Champions League triumph over AC Milan. I think his judgment might have been clouded by his disbelief that the tenner has matured in to a Premier League pass, but his switched legions can be overlooked for now.
While Wolves will want to bask in the glory of being back in the Premier League pack, attention, at least for the team, will turn to planning survival for next season. They need only to look over at neighbouring rivals West Bromwich Albion to see how Premier League football can see you rooted to the bottom of the table, a stark contrast from winning regularly in the Championship the season before.
McCarthy will want to improve on his Premier League record, after his woeful performance of just 15 points with Sunderland in the 2005/06 season. Wolves chances of survival will depend heavily on the amount of money they can invest on new players, and more importantly how they invest that money. I always had my reservations that had Steve Morgan completed his acquisition of Liverpool, would he have had the financial clout to invest in the playing staff and the ambitious stadium plans? While the sums of money Morgan will be expected to hand McCarthy, will vary greatly from that of Liverpool, Morgan is no longer playing around in the Championship and it will be time to put the tenners away, and bring out the fat check book.
To McCarthy's credit he has over seen much of the overhaul at Wolves so far, on a very modest budget. Two players that have made it on to my very limited radar, the Guy with the double barrel name Ebanks-Blake, bought for just over a million and former under 21 Michael Kightley snapped up from some obscure team for $25,000 which is probably what the average salary demand will now be next season. Come the re-opening of the transfer window, McCarthy will need to intensify his bargain hunting again as he scours for more diamonds in the rough. He will also need to keep the admiring eyes away from the two diamonds he already possesses.
In the mean time we wait and see if Sheffield United can pip Birmingham, and join Wolves in automatic promotion. If they are successful, it will give them an opportunity to re-open hostilities with West Ham, whom they still hold grievances over the Carlos Tevez saga.