Nearly men

“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.”

More to invest?

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.

 

 

The Bench

 

David Vaughan

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.

 

 

Robbie Keane

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.”

Nicky Maynard

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?

Wolves sign Icelandic midfielder

First in and hopefully not last

So Wolves have already concluded their first piece of business of the January transfer window, by bringing Hearts midfielder Eggert Jonsson to Molineux for a (you guessed it) undisclosed fee.

However, the BBC are reporting that the amount paid is around the £200,000 mark, so perhaps the bigger bucks are being held-back for other areas of the squad.

Read the story on the official site here.

Does anyone know a single thing about this guy? I certainly don’t.

Naturally, we all need to give him a chance to show what he can do before passing judgement but after being linked with more established Premier League names, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

Perhaps more worrying is the fact that a lot of Hearts supporters don’t seem that bothered that he’s leaving.

Still, the likes of Guedioura and Hammill have come in over the last two seasons and made contributions, so whose to say Jonsson won’t be another?

I think we can all be in agreement that Wolves need to do serious business in January, so this really should be the first of a few signings.

Defence

The arrival of Roger Johnson over the summer was supposed to go a long way towards solving our defensive frailties.

Struggled

And to begin with, it did.

The former Blues man was a towering presence in the wins over Blackburn and Fulham, seemingly a class above the other center backs at the club.

Combined with the stark upturn in form of Stephen Ward, the back four suddenly seemed a lot tighter.

Sadly though, this didn’t last.

As Wolves began to struggle, so did Johnson, culminating in the newly-crowned skipper losing his place to the fail-safe Jody Craddock.

Back to square one then it would seem. So what now?

Well, the one thing that all fans seem to agree is that we lack pace in the center of defence and this continues to hamper our progress.

We’ve had one remotely mobile center back during McCarthy’s tenure and that was Mancienne, who sadly lacked the physicality to consistently succeed.

Mouyokolo was also presumably brought in to fill this void, but injuries curtailed his chances and he was shipped out in the summer to make room for Johnson.

So if we are to dip into the January market for a defender, surely pace and power are top of the agenda?

Here are some possible targets.

Nedum Onuoha

The Man City defender impressed on a season long loan at Sunderland and will almost certainly leave the club in the January transfer window.

Wolves, Albion and Bolton have already been linked with the player and others suitors are likely to emerge.

If the club want to make a serious statement about their intentions, bringing the former England U21 international to Molineux would do just that.

Whether we buy him permanently or just loan him for the second half of the season, I believe he should be our top defensive target.

I don’t think we’ll get him though.

Danny Collins

If you believe what you read in the papers, Wolves are hot on the heels of the Stoke defender currently on loan at Ipswich.

Without wanting to sound negative – no thanks.

Have we not been down this street enough times?

Can anyone hand-on-heart convince me he will give us anything that Stearman, Berra, Johnson or Craddock wouldn’t?

I don’t think so.

Sadly though, he’s probably the sort of player who will rock-up come January.

Carlos Cuellar

McCleish needs to wheel-and-deal for players and Cuellar is one of those heading for the exit. We were heavily linked in the summer, so maybe there’s something in this one.

Seems to cover the ground a bit quicker than our current center-halves, and shows more poise on the ball.

Can’t dislodge Dunne or Collins from the Villa side though, so perhaps I’m bigging him up too much.

Would be an interesting signing and I wouldn’t be disappointed to see him arrive.

Alex

No, I haven’t gone mad.

The Chelsea defender slapped in a transfer request last week and I would love, love, love to see him in a gold shirt.

Whether Wolves can make it happen though, I’m not sure.

A cheeky loan deal to the end of the season maybe?

Wouldn’t mind one of those rocket free-kick goals either.

A penny for your thoughts?

Middle men

Central midfield shouldn’t be a problem for Wolves, given that we’ve got 5 fit and ready players available in that position.

Any answers here?

Yet somehow, we look short.

In countless games last season and a handful already this time around, we’ve been overpowered and overwhelmed straight down the middle of the pitch.

Criticism has been shared around.

Milijas, too lazy. Guedioura, too risky. Henry, well, I won’t open that can of worms.

We know Mick tried to get another midfielder in the summer, so I’d say it’s almost certain we’ll see one arrive in January.

Here are some of the likely candidates:

Craig Gardner

Sunderland pipped us at the post for his signature in the summer, but apparently he’s not enjoying life up north and craves a move back towards his native Midlands.

The E&S reported last week that a cheeky loan bid has already been lodged, so Mick is obviously still keen.

Whether O’Neill’s arrival at the Stadium of Light changes the situation I don’t know, but what I do know is, I’d be pleased to see him in a Wolves shirt.

More of a ‘Steady Eddy’ than a world-beater, but does good work at both ends of the pitch.

Emmanuel Frimpong

Another midfielder Wolves have been linked with in recent times, who McCarthy personally scouted. Highly rated at Arsenal and has managed a handful of first team appearances this season after a lengthy injury lay-off.

Likely to be available on a loan deal so no hefty transfer fee involved and from the glimpses I’ve seen certainly has the attributes we need; pace, power and presence.

Can definitely see this one happening and even though it would only be a temporary solution, I think he would best solve the problem.

Josh McEachran

Another highly thought of youngster, this time from Chelsea.

Broke into their first team for a short spell last season but seems to have fallen out of favour this time around, so maybe we can get him?

Doesn’t strike me as the kind of ‘all-action’ type I think we need, but could be a useful addition nevertheless.

Perhaps not as likely as the above two, but could be goer.

 

 

Jay Spearing or Jonjo Shelvey

We’ve been heavily linked with both of this Liverpool duo, but any move for either might well have hit the skids thanks to the Anfield club’s injury problems.

However, should Dalglish bring in another midfielder himself in January to cover the loss of Lucas, one of these two players could become available.

I’d personally prefer Shelvey, mainly because his physical presence and eye for a goal would come in handy.

I haven’t seen much of Spearing, but he seems busy, which is what we need i.e. someone who can get around the pitch.

Owen Hargreaves

Bit of a curveball this one, but that’s half the fun of the transfer window right?

Doesn’t seem to be getting much action in a City shirt (other than Carling Cup appearances) so perhaps he’d fancy a run of games for us?

It’s not unlikely that Mancini will spend again in January either, so Hargreaves could fall further down the pecking order.

Definitely has the qualities we need, so maybe it would suit all parties involved?

What does everyone else think?

Any other suggestions?

Strike it lucky

Most people who watch that irritating John Lewis advert get all gooey eyed and giddy about this ‘most wonderful time of the year.’

When I see that little boy counting down the clock to Christmas my mind starts dreaming of something else completely.

Any of the above?

Transfer window time!

Before we know it, Steve Morgan can dust off his chequebook and give us all a belated Crimbo present or two to enjoy for months to come.

And if he gives us a pair of crappy socks in the footballing form of Mujangi, then save yourself the effort Steve. It’s the thought that counts, remember!

So with a measly 16 goals from 15 games so far this season, it is as clear as Santa’s beard that we need a striker in January and he must have pace.

We never get in behind teams and aside from Jarvo’s recent renaissance; we don’t have a genuine outlet that can turn defence into attack at the blink of an eye.

So who, within reason and a £3 million budget, is going to fill the old gold stockings come the January window?

Here’s a list of likely targets who might be cheap and possibly cheerful.

Nicky Maynard

We always seem to be linked to Maynard, probably because he ticks most of the boxes.

He can score all types of goals, from a Football League goal of the season in 2010 (bicycle kick away at QPR) to the tap in against us a few years ago.

He’s out of contract in the summer too, so there’s no way City can demand the big bucks.

 

 

Billy Sharp

I always like what I see with Billy Sharp (aside from his belting strike past us for Donny in the FA Cup). Yes, he didn’t have the best of times at Bramall Lane, but to say he is rubbish is as much of a fallacy as to say he owes his Scunthorpe success to Andy Keogh.

Sharp is still banging in the goals in a poor Donny side and although he is not jet heeled, he has a turn of pace and he has an eye for goal. Above all else, he wouldn’t command the fee he used to.

 

Wilfried Zaha

One swallow does not make a summer folks, unless I am watching the Carling Cup at Old Trafford.

I saw this jet heeled kid running rings round the Manchester United defence and thought: “Who the hell is this?”

I checked Wikipedia and was told he has only scored 3 in about 60 games, a stat which adds to the intrigue.

He is 19 and moreover, he looks exactly the type of player Mick loves, being as he is young, hungry and works his backside off. He was even sprinting towards the corner flag in the 119th minute after going down with cramp two minutes earlier.

The likelihood of this one happening is as skinny as his legs, being as a load of clubs are apparently looking at him.

Marvin Emnes

Another one with pace with similar attributes to Maynard. Looks a handful and we all know about him from the FA Cup in 2008/09 when he smashed two past us.

His repertoire of goals suggests he can score the type of goals that our strikers can’t – running through, in behind defenders. With a bit of pace!

However, there would appear to be something of the Akinbiye about him and he’s dried up of late. Not sure, but worth a look and would fit into our price range.

 

Marvin Sordell

To be brutally frank, I haven’t heard his name being banded about but whenever I watch out for Kightly’s contributions at Watford, I seem to see this guy scoring.

So I looked him up…Brendan Rogers is looking at him, after nabbing their last prolific striker off the Hornets in the summer (Graham). Nigel Adkins also likes him too, who knows a bit about centre forward from his time at Scunny.

Worth £3 million. This buys you pace apparently.

 

Ross McCormack

Another (relatively) cheap target, who Mick first eulogised over in the season we won the CCC.

I remember us winning at Cardiff 2-1 and Mick spent far longer salivating off over a lad called McCormack than he did our goalscorers SEB and Big Chris.

After a lean spell, he is plundering in the goals for Leeds, and my mate who is a Leeds fan said he is the business. Says they can’t do without him.

If it’s good enough to piss him off, then let’s spend, spend, spend!

 

Mame Diouf

Thought I’d end with a joker in the pack. Don’t ask me why I’ve thrown this name into the mix. It’s just a hunch I have. He’s not prolific, he is never going to set your pulse racing if you heard we’d signed him and for those reasons alone, he looks like a nailed on target.

In fairness though, Sir Alex saw enough in him to bring him to England, and when you look at William Prunier, Djemba Djemba, Ralph Milne and Dong Fangzhuo, who are we to argue.

 

 

Naturally there will be other names banded around between now and January, but for the price we pay and the expectations we all have, these might just be the best we can hope for.

Any thoughts?

* We’ll be doing similar blogs about midfield and defensive targets, so probably best to keep the chit-chat about strikers. Just warning people, as it could get repetitive over the course of three articles if everyone starts posting their shopping lists.