Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy has hit out at supporters who have voiced their disapproval at recent performances and picked out individual players.
Fans have been growing increasingly frustrated with recent below-par showings, especially at Molineux, where a chorus of boos rang out on New Year's Day when Stephen Elliott replaced Andy Keogh during the frustrating 0-0 draw with Sheffield United.
There were also murmurings during last Saturday's narrow FA Cup victory over non-league Cambridge United. The 2-1 victory brought to an end a seven-game sequence without a win, but supporters were obviously expecting Wolves to dispatch their Conference National opponents in more emphatic fashion.
Now manager Mick McCarthy has called on the fans to show the same unwavering support they showed last season, when McCarthy took a side tipped for relegation into the play-offs.
Then, expectation levels were low at Molineux after McCarthy took over from Glenn Hoddle in the summer with little time to build a squad. As a result, Wolves fans were renowned for their incredible support, even chanting McCarthy's name when their side were 6-0 down to Southampton in March.
McCarthy hopes that level of support will return this Saturday when Crystal Palace are the visitors. In the meantime, he expressed his disappointment at the treatment dished out nine days ago to Elliott, who has scored four goals in 11 games this season. "I'm not sure if it was all aimed at Stephen or just a reaction to the fact Andy was coming off because the fans were not aware of his chest infection. Or it may have been because it wasn't Freddy [Eastwood] going on," he said.
"When you are the player coming on and there are moans and groans, it does have an adverse effect. If we are not careful, we will be a man down and a good one.
"I have seen it happen before at other clubs but I never thought I would see it here, not after last season and the support we had, even when we were 6-0 down to Southampton. I sincerely hope he [Elliott] doesn't turn out to be a scapegoat. I have really felt for him. I hope it doesn't continue because it will effect him."
Any bad feeling at Molineux could also be a factor in McCarthy's attempts to attract new blood at a time when Wolves need a spark to reignite their season. Reports in Lancashire have claimed McCarthy is interested in Blackburn Rovers striker Paul Gallagher, who has spent loan spells at Wolves' Championship rivals Preston North End and Stoke City.
Wolves have also reportedly been turned down by Cardiff City winger Joe Ledley and are in discussions with Norwegian side SK Brann for defender Erland Hanstveit. A delegation from the Scandinavian club has met with Wolves officials but a deal, said to involve a £500,000 fee, was not completed. However, the move is not thought to be dead.
Meanwhile, there has again been speculation over McCarthy's future, despite a swift denial from the club. McCarthy is said to be a target of the Football Association of Ireland to return to his former post as Republic of Ireland manager.
Terry Venables was believed to be the prime candidate to replace Steve Staunton but the FAI fear he may opt to take charge of the Bulgarian national team and McCarthy's name has been thrown into the hat. Chief executive Jez Moxey issued a statement claiming the speculation was distracting from efforts to bring in new players but still the rumours persist. Meanwhile, Wolves have also taken 26-year-old Latvian international striker Girts Karlsons on trial.