Pride won’t be enough to save Wolves from resurgent City
When Mick McCarthy was sacked on 13th February, Wolves had only just dropped into the relegation zone on goal difference, one point separating themselves and 16th place.
Meanwhile, at the top, Manchester City stood two points clear of Manchester United, having just beaten Aston Villa 1-0 away from home.
The two months following have not been kind to either side. While City are just about still in the title race, five points behind their nearest and dearest with next week’s Manchester derby the only reason they are able to still believe, Wolves’ dreams are all but over, cut adrift at the bottom of the league by eight points.
Despite the stark difference in league position, criticism of both sides during this time has centred on similar issues of leadership, team morale and handling of pressure, but now that the damage is done, the pressure is largely removed. City are now title outsiders, at 9/2 behind 1/8 favourites United, while Wolves are set for a return to the Championship.
But it’s not all doom-and-gloom. They produced arguably their best performance under McCarthy’s reluctant replacement Terry Connor in a 0-0 draw at Sunderland last week to end a run of seven consecutive losses.
Wolves fans showed a keenness to get behind their side in their last home game, a 3-0 loss to Arsenal, and so long as their team again show a similar willingness to scrap and compete, Connor’s men can once again expect the same admirable support.
But few will see the 11/1 on offer for a home win as tempting. Pride alone will not transform a team who’ve looked shoddy at the back and often blunt upfront, and in any case City (2/9 to win) are back playing the sort of football that suggested they could walk the Premier League just a few months back.
Roberto Mancini’s men have demolished two of the Premier League’s in-form sides in West Brom and Norwich in their last two games, scoring ten and conceding just the one in the process.
Both games have coincided with the return of Carlos Tevez to the starting line-up, having formed a formidable partnership with compatriot Sergio Aguero leaving City fans wondering just what might have been had their controversial former captain not insisted on spending half of the season golfing in Argentina.
Tevez and Aguero are joint favourites, at 11/4, to open the scoring, while the renewed energy levels of the previously-flagging playmaker David Silva suggest he might be worth an alternative punt at 11/2.
It’s hard to see a beleaguered Wolves defence keeping things tight against such a potent attack, so the 10/11 on 4+ goals is another bet to keep in mind.