(Image via www.wearegoingup.co.uk)
18 months into the job, Nick Perkins takes a look as to whether Kenny Jackett and Mick McCarthy have more similarities than meets the eye..
Now, first things first, as I write this, the dust has settled on a Wolves performance that I can only describe as woeful after a 3-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest. This is not written in anger stating I want changes, but it is just a thought…….
Cast your mind back to July 2006 where a certain Mick McCarthy walked through the front door of Molineux and little did we know the roller coaster that was ahead of us. The club was in dire straits on the field having to lose the likes of Kenny Miller, an aging Colin Cameron and Paul Ince, and Romanian striker Vio Ganea to name a few on free transfers. Also the big loss of the talented Joleon Lescott to Everton for £5million. Coming in to the club were the likes of veteran defender Gary Breen, Jay Bothroyd and future captain Karl Henry all brought in on a shoe string budget as the club had to pinch the penny’s.
Fast forward years later where Wolves had been relegated to the third tier of football for the first time in a generation. The club was in turmoil on and off the pitch. Players feuding with each other on the pitch and fan/player relationship at an all-time low. A far cry from the previous years of Wolves three year stay in the Premiership.
In walked experienced manager Kenny Jackett who previously walked out at Millwall days before. I’m sure everyone would agree, there was a lot of tidying up on the pitch, with high earners not pulling their weight and not putting in performances. The main thing was to rebuild that broken relationship and instil the trust into the Wolves faithful. Eight players were released on a free, two others sold for what cash they could conjure, as well as the retirement of modern day legend Jody Craddock.
Wolves’ squad was looking bleak but Jackett had belief in Wolves up and coming stars. With the additions of Sam Ricketts, Kevin McDonald and Scott Goldbourne, Wolves fielded a relatively young looking squad on the opening day of the League One season away at Preston North End.As we know the rest was history in the case of McCarthy, with many people agreeing to disagree whether he should stay or go, but the writing was on the wall after a 5-1 defeat on a gloomy February afternoon against “Those who shall be not named.” Many believed it was the right decision for the club at the time as there was enough time for the team to turn things around.
One of the questions that supported the decision was did he have the ability to take the club to that next level and make Wolves a secure Premiership team? McCarthy was appointed in March 2003 at an already near relegated Sunderland and could not stop the slide, he escaped the blame for the relegation. He was kept on to lead them to a play-off defeat in a penalty shootout. McCarthy completed the turnaround at the club in the 2004/05 season where he returned to the Premiership with a notable 94 points haul. But found the Premiership hard with only 16 points accumulated by March and was ultimately sacked.
While his time at Wolves, he won the Championship, again with an impressive points total, and managed to keep Wolves in the Premiership for two successive seasons, but was never able to get the points on the board to move Wolves further up the table.
Kenny Jackett assisted former Wolves manager Graham Taylor in getting Watford promoted in two successive seasons to the Premier League in 1999/2000 season. He was released from the club along Taylor and then moved to QPR to assist Ian Holloway and contributed towards their promotion to the First Division (now Championship). After three years, he moved to the hot seat at League Two side Swansea City where in his first season in charge he got the team promoted. The following season the team struggled for form and he resigned in February 2007.
Following his exit he was appointed manager of League One side Millwall. After a 17th place finish his first season, Millwall enjoyed securing their first play-off final spot in his first full season, which ended in defeat to Scunthorpe. In the following season, Millwall finished third, again qualifying for the play-offs and this time was successful beating Swindon 1-0 thus securing their promotion to the Championship. Whilst in the Championship, Jackett led Millwall mid-table mediocrity with being as low as finishing 20th in his final season there.
As we know Jackett was key in leading Wolves to the League One title with a record points tally, along with playing some impressive football along the way. At the start of the current season, Wolves carried on playing the style of football which had seen them to succeed the previous season which led to gaining early points and being near the top of the division. Along with the signings of Tommy Rowe, George Saville and Rajiv Van La Parra, confidence was high among the whole of the Wolves camp with the players and fans alike.
But the team hit a bad patch of form, finding it hard to score and conceding way too many goals for a team whose manager said that promotion is a realistic target. I can’t help but think that Kenny is a similar mold to Mick, as in he may be able to get Wolves to a certain point but no further. But unfortunately, this place Kenny can take us to be is a mid-table Championship team. I sincerely hope that I am wrong, and there is a long time of the season left for it to change. But with looking at the signings Kenny has made for this season, have they really improved the team? Are the likes of Rowe good enough? Would Derby have let go Jacobs for such a cheap price if he was good enough at Championship level? Will the signings made in January be good enough to push the team up the table and gain promotion?
As stated at the beginning of this article, this is not calls for “Jackett Out”. I personally feel that Kenny has done a fantastic club that was in free fall and I hope that Wolves can turn their form around and climb the table and challenge for promotion….. But a posing question, looking at history dear reader think of these two questions:
A) Can Kenny get us promoted?
B) If he does, is he the man to keep us up?
Nick Perkins – @perkinator88