In our final View from the Enemy preview, David Johnston from the Wolves Offside blog has talked to us about his hopes for Wolves this season.
Scott the Red: Were you happy with your team’s performance last season?
David Johnston: I think in the first two seasons in the top flight the target has to be survival. Wolves came very close to not achieving that last season but they did achieve it and that’s all that matters.
STR: You escaped the drop by one point. Were you confident you were going to manage it?
DJ: It was all going so well at the end of March and then Doyle was the last player we needed to get injured and we lost by 3 goals to Newcastle, Everton and Stoke in April and it looked very gloomy. Wins against Albion and Sunderland meant we were confident going into the last game but to go 3 down by half time at home to Blackburn was a nightmare. The second half was a blur as Wolves fought back and trying to keep track on scores elsewhere. When Wigan and Birmingham both scored with ten minutes left it looked all over. But Hunt’s goal in the 87th minute meant a memorable end that nobody in Wolverhampton with a weak heart wants to repeat.
STR: Who were your most important players?
DJ: For most of the season the most important players were Kevin Doyle and Matt Jarvis. Doyle got injured in March and Jarvis lost form around the same time. O’Hara and Fletcher became the most important players in the last couple of months along with Stephen Hunt and Wayne Hennessey.
STR: How have Wolves done in the transfer market this summer?
DJ: Very pleased with the signings of O’Hara and Roger Johnson. De Vries gives us keeper back up now Hahnemann has been released. We need to bring in a left back and maybe another centre back.
STR: What are your aspirations for this season?
DJ: It will be disappointing if we are struggling to avoid relegation for a third successive year. But I don’t think we will be. Johnson is a good addition, O’Hara only played the last third of last season, and because of injury Fletcher and Hunt only played a third of the games also. So I think we have enough now to progress towards halfway.
STR: How do you rate McCarthy’s ability to take the club forward?
DJ: He isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but what manager is? When he joined the club we were in a real mess and looked capable of going down to League 1. But he stabilised things and finished 6th and 7th in his first two years. Then in the third year won the Championship by 7 points and scored 90 goals. Survival achieved in the next two seasons so he has achieved all that was asked of him so far and I think we will make further progress next season.
STR: Where do you think you will finish this season?
DJ: 12th to 14th. Definitely above Albion!
STR: Wow. Optimistic. Which player do you think will most important in helping you achieve this?
DJ: Hennessey, Hunt, Johnson, Jarvis and Fletcher are all important players for Wolves now but Kevin Doyle is the standout player.
STR: Which two current United players would you most want at your club?
DJ: Wolves’ Achilles heel is the defence so for the positions we need to strengthen I would like Vidic and Evra. But wouldn’t say no to Rooney.
STR: Who will finish in the top 4? Who will go down?
DJ: Top 4 will be Man United, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea. Relegated teams will be three from QPR, Swansea, Norwich, Wigan and Blackburn. I will take Swansea, Norwich and Blackburn to drop.
STR: Anything else?
DJ: There are positive vibes around Wolves at the moment. The stadium is being developed as are the training facilities and the team is building into one good enough to hold its own in the Premier League. Whether Wolves can get back to being one of the country’s top clubs is open to question in the modern game of the rich clubs getting richer. But there are plans to take the stadium up to a 50,000 capacity in time and if we can get a team to justify that then the good times will be back.