Wolves' new manager has done his homework. Ged Scott reports
Whatever the future lies ahead for Mick McCarthy at Molineux, at least you can't accuse the new Wolverhampton Wanderers manager of not doing his research.
After officially taking the reins at 9am yesterday morning, McCarthy became the seventh manager to be handed the thankless task of trying to l ead Wolves to the Premiership.
Five - Graham Turner, Graham Taylor, Mark McGhee, Colin Lee and Glenn Hoddle - have have failed. Only one - Dave Jones - succeeded and even then his team came straight back down again.
But they all proved part of McCarthy's thorough preparations prior to taking the job on.
Being the popular, bighearted character he is in the game, Big Mick is not short of phone numbers and he was straight on his mobile to beg a few second opinions when it became clear that, as he himself has so delicately put it in the past, he was about to put his "backside in the bacon slicer" again.
"I spoke to them all," said McCarthy, "simply as a matter of due diligence.
"But I'm still here. "There were things that could have put me off taking the job, but they haven't. For all the perceived downsides, the questions about financial constraints and the lack of players, Wolves are a fantastic club.
"It is going to be tough, but I wouldn't have got this job if Wolves were flying at the top of the league as there'd have been no need for a change.
"But, like every other manager who's been in here before, and who'll come in after, you know it's got potential.
"I have to admit I've almost enjoyed being out of work. And I was prepared to wait to October or November knowing that jobs would come up then as they always do.
"But I went out to the World Cup to do some cocommentating for the BBC and meeting and talking to football people just got me realising how much I wanted to get back in.
"I was surprised it became available, but when the Wolves job comes up the ears do prick up."
McCarthy, who has appointed trusted Ian Evans as his No 2, now knows he's got some fast work to do to fill his half-empty dressing room.
Wolves have lost 11 players from the squad that finished last season, a figure which will become 12 if Paul Ince, snubbed for the hot seat, declines the current offer of a one-year playing contract.
The immediate target is simply finding a 16 for the opening day trip to Plymouth, now just 11 days away. Wolves have already landed McCarthy's old Sunderland skipper Gary Breen, and McCarthy would be hoping to have half-a-dozen new faces signed up by the close of the August transfer window.
Though his first job is to make his mind up about Ince, he also has decisions to make about trialists Guilherme Finkler and Birmingham City old boy Jamie Clapham, who both played in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Swansea City.
"I've been reading that Incey's got other offers," said
McCarthy. "But I won't know until I've sat down with him. And I guess there's a few more who've got issues, who thought they should have been playing, liked the manager, didn't like the manager, etc, etc. That's par for the course at any club.
"All I know is there's a few managers out there who I'll be hoping when they see my name come up on their mobile actually take the call.
"Coming in two weeks before the start of the season, there's a lot of players who've already been picked up and I'm having to start behind the others.
"The Gary Breen deal was already ongoing and I was delighted to give it my approval as he's a good player and a top pro. But when I clocked in this morning I'd got a squad list with 13 players. And I should remind everyone that my initials, MM, stand for Mick McCarthy, not Merlin the Magician.
"The only thing that can change it is players. And we need some." * Utility defender Rob Edwards has penned a new three-year deal with the club.
The 23-year-old Welsh international, signed by Dave Jones from Aston Villa for £150,000 two summers ago, still had a year left on his existing deal.