Tough Sledding ahead for Wolves

October, 21, 2010

As Week 6 of the National Football League season so amply demonstrated, one of the most compelling aspects of major American sports is how games are designed to build to a thrilling climax. That's not the case with soccer. Instead, for most leagues around the world, the season builds to something just as compelling and much scarier -- relegation.

The new owners of Liverpool never have to worry about their other iconic sports franchise, the Boston Red Sox, heading through the American League East trapdoor. There is no such thing for the Sox, but there is for the Reds. It's simply incredible to look at the EPL standings and see Liverpool sitting in the relegation zone. It's more bizarre than David Hasselhoff busting moves on "Dancing With the Stars." The Hoff, of course, has already gone down, but don't expect the 18-time English champions to be playing in The Championship next season.

The same cannot be said for another legendary English club: Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Black and Gold were to the 1950s what the Reds were to the 1970s and 1980s: the benchmark against which other teams were judged. It's been a long time since Wolves dominated English soccer, but it's a proud club with a large, devoted fan base that once again is looking over its shoulder at the EPL exit door.

Manager Mick McCarthy's team heads to Stamford Bridge on Saturday sitting in 18th place, and in serious danger of slipping even further down the table in the next few weeks. After Chelsea, Wolves host Manchester City, travel to Manchester United and welcome Arsenal to Molineux.

It's a killer quartet of matches that could seriously damage the Wolves' Premiership survival prospects. Sure, it's still early, but not getting any points for the next month or so will have Wolves fans pointing the finger of blame at McCarthy.

That would be harsh on McCarthy, who has done an outstanding job in reviving Wolves' fortunes. But that counts for little if you become the proverbial "strongest team in the league" -- the one at the bottom holding up all the others.

Because as even the once mighty Liverpool might still discover this season, to quote a man who never had to worry about relegation, legendary NFL head coach Bill Parcells: "You are what your record says you are."

And in the EPL, if your record puts you in the relegation zone, the dreaded bottom three, even in October, you need to start turning things around quickly. A month from now, that will be an even greater imperative for Wolves than for any other team in the Premiership.



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