Would McCarthy have surrendered to any other team than Man U?

McCarthy only to happy to surrender to Ferguson; Photo by Erix

The integrity of the Premier League has been called into question after Wolves manager Mick McCarthy rested all ten of his outfield starters from Saturday’s 1-0 over Spurs for the trip to Manchester United. United probably would have won anyway, but its odd for a manager to preemptively surrender a game no matter the quality of the opponent. His stated objective was to avoid injury ahead of a supposedly more winnable game against Burnley on the weekend. But I can’t help wondering if he would have done the same thing against Chelsea or Arsenal.

Wolves are definitely in a relegation scrap, just above the drop zone in 17th entering this round of fixtures. They face 13th place Burnley at home on Sunday in a critical match in which they need to take points. You can see the logic of not wanting to risk fatigue or injury to his starters and try and catch a Burnley side with no such luxury. A trip to Old Trafford is not a match that most teams in the bottom half expect to get anything from.

But looking at the most recent fixtures and the state of each team, a defeat might not have been as forgone a conclusion as McCarthy believed. Man U lost at home to Aston Villa on Saturday in a pretty weak display. They have most of their defense out injured and even put out midfielder Michael Carrick in central defense. Wolves, on the other hand, just had their best win of the season at White Hart Lane against Tottenham. Look, Wolves probably still would have lost the game, but Man U were looking very shaky and McCarthy’s men were riding a wave of confidence heading into one of the biggest games of the year for any English player.

They were riding a wave of confidence. Not any more. McCarthy has just told his first team that they have absolutely no chance of beating a weakened and wobbly Man U. In fact, they don’t even belong on the same pitch. That’s much worse than Bill Belichick stabbing his defense in the back by going for it on fourth down. How’s that move working out for the Pats?

Whatever the motivations and results for McCarthy, I just can’t believe he would have done the same thing against foreign managed Chelsea and Arsenal. Perhaps its because it comes so close on the heels of my xenophobia post, but so many on the British Isles revere Alex Ferguson that they’re more likely to preemptively surrender.

Wigan owner Dave Whelan was rooting for Ferguson to beat his team last year when the Latics hosted Man U in May during the title run. He said before the game: “I think United are the heart and soul of football… When you talk about the maestro (Ferguson) himself, he is just something different… It is just a shame if we beat Man U.”

McCarthy said he got the idea to rest his whole starting lineup from reading a quote from Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, but I seriously doubt if he would have followed through on his plan if it was the Italian he was up against rather than the Scot.


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