Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy was quick to criticise his team’s leaky defence – even though they won at Watford.
Wolves’ 13 league fixtures this season have produced a total of 52 goals, 31 for and 21 against – the highest aggregate in the Championship – but McCarthy is keen for his side’s attacking flair to be tempered with a pragmatism and solidity at the back.
Two goals from right-back Kevin Foley clawed Wolves back into the game at Vicarage Road, where they eventually won 3-2, but even the Irishman’s sterling performance did not exclude him from the ear-bashing dished out after the final whistle.
“I lambasted the players afterwards,” said the manager. “I gave them the sharp end of my tongue because we shouldn’t have made it so difficult for ourselves.
“We’re a sieve at the back and we have to change that. Either we defend better individually or collectively, or we’ll have to do something else with somebody else.
“We made some real mistakes and defended poorly at times. It was a real scrappy affair with some rubbish defending and rubbish attacking which could have finished 6-6!
“I’m sure it was highly entertaining for any neutrals because it was ‘Keystone Kops’ at both ends.”
Despite Wolves lying second in the Championship, four points clear of third-placed Reading, McCarthy is convinced only leaders Birmingham and the Royals look like a promotion team at the moment.
He said: “We can’t afford to concede 14 goals in five games. Birmingham keep nicking games and they don’t give many goals away – eight this season.
“They haven’t been scoring many but they’ve been solid. That’s a promotion-winning outfit.
“We don’t try and draw games, I’ve not set up a team yet to do that,” said the manager. “We’ve played 4-4-2 and tried to win away from home and maybe that’s been our downfall a little bit.
“The games we’ve lost against Reading, Swansea and even Norwich – we’ve always kept going and tried to attack.
“We’re trying to win games, and we keep going and try to attack but can’t keep making mistakes. We had 19 clean sheets last season, the second best defensive record in the league and finished seventh
“We conceded far fewer goals than West Bromwich Albion but they scored 88 to our 53 and won the Championship really well at the end of it.”