The season is over and after a roller-coaster of a final day of a topsy-turvy year, Wolves are safe. My nervous are shot though after the most excruciating and exhilarating final day of a Premier League season in its history.
Five teams were battling for survival on the final day and four of them spent time in the relegation zone during the 90 minutes.
For months, every time Wolves won or lost and Mick McCarthy was asked about the league position, he responded the same way. “May 22nd,” was his stock answer and come the final whistle on that date, his side had secured survival.
The Wolves boss has for months been asserting that the battle would go to the final game. Last week’s win over Sunderland put us in the strongest position possible – win at home against a struggling team with a poor away record to guarantee Premier League status.
But with so much at stake, the players looked completely overawed for the first 45 minutes. At 3-0 down, we had to rely on other results and for a while and it looked bleak.
At various stages Blackpool lead at Manchester United, Birmingham looked like getting a point at Tottenham and Wigan were beating Stoke. With around eight minutes to go we were in the bottom three.
But with Jamie O’Hara having pulled a goal back at Molineux with a cleverly worked free kick and Manchester United back ahead against Blackpool, one goal would be enough to lift us above Birmingham. Stephen Hunt got it when he curled a beauty in to the net and we had a few minutes of pure joy. Only in injury time though, when Tottenham scored the winner against Birmingham, could we breathe a final sigh of relief.
Well done lads for responding in the second half and showing the determination, grit and ability over 38 games that made us worthy of top flight football for another year. Commiserations to Birmingham and Blackpool – it was a horrible way to end a season for them. They both finished on 39 points which in previous years would have been plenty to keep them up.
It just shows how strong the league has been this season. Out league position was two places lower than last year but we had two more points and that shows progress in such a difficult competition. This was done in a season where we lost Kightly, Hunt, Zubar, Doyle and Guedioura to long-term injuries. On top of that we scored 46 goals compared to 32 last year.
There were some amazing highs too – beating Manchester United, beating Chelsea, beating Liverpool, beating Man City, spanking the Tescos. Now we have the chance to work on what went wrong this year and the goals against column says a lot – 66 compared to 56 last season.
It’s a statistic that almost cost us dearly at one point on Sunday and was responsible for some of the low points of the campaign – two defeats against Blackburn, losses against West Ham and Wigan and a mauling at Stoke. So let’s hope that the leaky defence is addressed in the transfer market this summer. Get that right and we will have a massive opportunity to progress next season.
With respect to QPR, Norwich and whoever wins the playoffs, I think they will weaken the Premier League next year. If that’s the case, with the right adjustments and investments, Wolves could work towards a mid-table finish instead of fighting another campaign against relegation.
It has been the most emotionally demanding season for us fans that I can remember but I’m so proud that we pulled it off. Up the Wolves.
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