Manchester United

Negative Tactics Often Yield Positive Results…

Mick McCarthy’s Wolves side were successful in avoiding relegation last season finishing 15th, their best league finish in thirty years. The club assured safety with two games to spare, ensuring their first ever survival in the modern Premier League.

One thing that sticks in my mind is the controversial Wolves team selection against Manchester United at Old Trafford in December in which Mick McCarthy made 10 changes three days after an unexpected 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

At the time this looked like very negative tactics that accepted that is was a foregone conclusion that it would be impossible for their team to get any points at Old Trafford.

The inexperienced Wolves side were easily swept aside 3-0 by Manchester United, but McCarthy’s decision to rest the majority of his first team was vindicated when five days later they won 2-0 over fellow relegation prospects Burnley.

Some were quick to condemn his actions whereas others saw it as a wise, thrifty and innovative bit of management. Wolves were subsequently given a £25,000 suspended fine by the Premier League which was seen by Mick McCarthy as a deterrent warning other clubs against this kind of tactics.

This kind of tactics make me think of a boxer who has been told by his manager to go down in the first round to avoid getting a pummelling from a stronger adversary. It’s not entertaining as a sporting spectacle and it rips off the people who have paid their hard earned money to come and watch it, but it could end up being beneficial for the boxer in the long run.

Wolves striker Kevin Doyle said of the Premier League decision to fine Wolves that “They might end up fining a lot of teams over the next few years if they are going to go about it that way. If you are going start fining teams for changing teams for the FA Cup, League Cup, and when they go from the Champions League to playing in the Premier League, why is that any different for us?”

It looks unlikely that we’ll ever see a manager with the audacity to make 10 man switch again, but could we see an increased prevalence of tactics like this where managers pick their battles and best players are rested against big teams when matches are close together so that they are fresh for games against smaller opposition?

What would you think if your team started doing this kind of thing? Obviously it’s not an issue for the bigger clubs for who safety is guaranteed but would you accept this kind of chicanery if it meant your team could stay up when relegation is looking probable?

Do you think that the points forfeited by these tactics would be outweighed by the points gained?

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