“Would you trust Mick McCarthy with any money to spend this window?” questioned one hard suffering soul on a radio phone-in last week.
“After all,” the Wolves fan went on to argue, “Mick has spent £49 million since we got promoted and look at the Championship plodders he persists on picking.”
The husky, hoarse supporter made a pretty valid point, even if he was screaming down the phone while making it.
Or did he? The £64,000 dollar question this window appears to centre around Mick’s £49 million spending spree in the three years before it opened.
While there are many sticks to beat Mick McCarthy with right now, his record in the transfer market might not be the most obvious one.
Admittedly some signings have been barely explainable, let alone fathomable, but is this all down to Mick, or more down to the fact that we rarely pay the wages of our manager’s number one targets, meaning he settles for a Surman instead of a Sidwell. Or a Griffiths over a Gardner.
Here is a team of players Mick is known to have wanted, but lost out on due to either a) paltry personal terms or b) player didn’t want to come.
Danny Higginbotham (left back)
In Mick’s second full season in 2007, he tried to sign Higginbotham as a 29 year-old with a £1.25 million fee agreed. He opted for Stoke City instead. His performances for Stoke up until this season would suggest he would have ‘done a job.’
Steven Taylor (centre back)
While on a work jaunt to the Soccer AM studios a few months ago, a friend told me we were on the brink of signing him a year or two before. So close was Taylor to signing that he almost put pen to paper. Understandably, he stayed put in the end, being a lifelong Toon fan.
Scott Dann (centre back)
In 2009 we could smell the liniment on his legs as he underwent a medical at Compton. He’d be coming up the M6 when he’d come (yee-hah), he’d be driving down the M6 when he left for St Andrew’s shortly afterwards.
Nathanial Clyne (right back)
Virtually two years ago to the day, Crystal Palace’s administrators accepted a bid for Clyne, around the £1 million mark. Either he didn’t like our terms, or he didn’t like our team, being as he couldn’t believe his useless mate Danny Butterfield bagged three past us weeks earlier.
Adam Johnson (left midfield)
We bid around £6.5 million for him when at Middlesbrough, but he stupidly chose Man City instead, in a blatant career backward step! Not before saying he was flattered by our interest, which was nice of him.
Moxey said: We got permission from Middlesbrough to speak to Johnson and we made the best offer, which would have broken our transfer record, paying a lot more than Manchester City.”
Steve Sidwell (centre midfield)
Apparently, Greg Halford put the kibosh on this one by blurting out we were signing the ginger hot head from Villa. No sooner had Halford tweeted than Fulham gazumped us, to the delight of Mick McCarthy who (should have) said: “I thought Halford was safer in the stands than out on the pitch, but he is still doing damage in row B of the Billy Wright Stand, the twat.”
Craig Gardner (centre midfield)
When Blues were relegated last season, Jez Moxey was rubbing his hands at the assets he could strip off them, in the bargain basement he knows best. He still hadn’t fathomed that good players need paying though, as Gardner opted for Sunderland for more money despite wanting to come here. Mick also tried to get him on loan this season, to no avail.
Wes Hoolahan (attacking midfield / right?)
We all know Mick loves an Irishman, and none more so than Wes Hoolahan in 2008 when he played for Blackpool. He joined Norwich for around £700,000 instead of us, as we wouldn’t pay up, allegedly. Judging by his impressive showing at Molineux the other week, Mick can rightly feel narked about missing out, as he’d clearly spotted a good ‘un there.
Andy Carroll (striker)
Yes, yes, laugh as you might, but Mick wanted him when he was on loan at Preston in 2007, when he was barely worth £3 quid, let alone £30 million! More proof that he can spot them.
McCarthy said: “I saw him at Preston when he was out on loan and we asked about him.
“We asked about him last year. We didn’t get close at all. We made a bid but it didn’t get anywhere.”
Shane Long (striker)
According to Tim Nash, Mick was keen on the striker before his summer move to Albion, but the club would only sanction it if Kevin Doyle was sold. As it was, Doyler signed a new deal and we all had to endure the bloodbath at the Hawthorns as good old Shane ran rings around Rodger.
Wolves were one of many clubs chasing the former Blackpool midfielder when his contract expired in the summer, but he skanked us for Sunderland. It appeared we’d dodged a bullet based on the Welshman’s early season form, but he’s been firing a few of his own rockets since O’Neill took over at the Stadium of Light.
It’s a shame that so many stifle a yawn when Robbie’s name is mentioned, such is the frequency of it at this time of year.
In what couldn’t possibly be seen as a cynical ploy to convince us that we were serious about our first season in the Premier League, Jez Moxey said we genuinely attempted to get him while at Spurs.
Apparently we were prepared to pay his £70,000 wages too!
Moxey said: “We asked about Robbie Keane and I spoke to Tottenham on a couple of occasions. We knew what his wages were and we would have done that but he wasn’t going to come to us.”
We’ve been linked with Maynard for what seems an eternity but nothing has ever come of it. With the striker out of contract in the summer and Bristol City looking to cash-in before he leaves for nothing, there’s a deal to be done. The question is, will the club back Mick with the funds to finally bring him in or will he become a permanent member of the nearly men?
So while Mick has indeed spent £49 million on players of varying degrees of quality, should the question really be about Mick’s judgement in the transfer market?
Or should it be about whether the club should back him with a requisite wage structure instead?