Karl Henry has been pilloried in the national media for the last few weeks and we Wolves fans have all had a laugh about it. If you want a flavour of the banter, type #karlyhenrysfault in to Twitter and you will see the skipper being blamed for everything from a supporter's porridge going cold to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
He has been great for Wolves but at Wigan, he lost the plot. The 2-0 defeat in a game we really needed to win really was his fault. The awful challenge that resulted in his red card just 11 minutes in to the match was totally irresponsible and makes me think it’s time he handed over the captaincy.
What Karl brings to the side is energy, strength and the ability to disrupt the opposition in the centre of the park. The problem for him though is that Michael Mancienne and Adlene Guedioura can do all of that too.
Karl gets in to the team first though because he also brings leadership. If he fails on that front, as he did so destructively at Wigan, we have to question not only his captaincy but his place in the starting 11.
The challenge which earned Henry a red card
I don’t want to hammer the skipper here – more ask whether we need a change. After all, this is a local lad who Mick plucked from Stoke’s reserves for around £100,000. He was a revelation in the Championship and stepped up a level last year, finishing as one of our best performers in the Premier League.
I still don’t believe he is a dirty player either, despite what everyone who reads the headlines but doesn’t watch the matches seems to think. Yes it was an awful challenge, yes it was a red card offence and yes it’s getting to be impossible to defend our disciplinary record. I would just urge people to look at the statistics outside of the last six games before they jump to conclusions though.
Henry’s red card at the DW Stadium was only the second of his career and he’s 27 – that is not the record of a thug. For the wider side, look at the free-kick count. The first game of the season against Stoke was 17 by Wolves and 14 against.
At Everton, we were actually out-fouled 17 to 15 and, against Newcastle, Wolves outfouled the Magpies 20 to 18. Craven Cottage was a low point - 17 by Wolves and nine by Fulham – but as we see from the other games, 17 fouls isn’t unusually high.
Wolves players just seem to get booked more often than those on other teams and you would have to ask referees why that is.
Going back to Karl and the captaincy, suspension will mean Mick McCarthy will get to see three games without him so he can use them as a gauge of how important it is to have him on the field.
It’s a shame the man we all wanted to replace him, Guedioura, is sidelined with a broken leg – something that came from a very poor challenge that the national media have hardly mentioned and we have not moaned about at all.
I expect Mancienne to do Henry’s footballing job and Jody Craddock to take over as leader of the side in the coming weeks. Bearing in mind the strength of the opposition, if the next time Karl is available for selection we have four points more than we do now, for me he would only be getting a place on the bench.