by Adam Bate
It’s been a tough week to be a Wolves fan.
The revulsion towards the behaviour of a significant section of Wolves supporters has been widespread – and the criticism has been coming from all angles.
The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning tweeted that the fans were “clowns”, ESPN’s Daniel Pountney suggested they “grow up” and the WSC message boards were alive with the hot topic: “Are Wolves fans fickle?”
But this was nothing compared to the assessment of those within the club itself. Mick McCarthy labelled his detractors “mindless idiots” while captain Roger Johnson had already called the fans “a disgrace”.
Everything points to the conclusion that Wolves fans are ungrateful characters who believe they have a divine right to success.
But there are two sides to this particular story. And although those within the club will now allow people to run with the idea of a small club and its over-demanding fans, for those living in this one-club city a very different picture emerges.
After all, there are many who remember the words of Jez Moxey, the club’s chief executive, back in March of this year when he told supporters:
“The aim is to get us back where everyone thinks we belong. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can usurp Manchester United, but we think we can get to just below that level – in the top three, four or five clubs where we can be competing in Europe.”
It was a remarkable claim as it far outweighed even the long-term ambitions of many a hardcore supporter. And while McCarthy was slightly more pragmatic, his comments in May appeared to buy into the idea of speedy progress:
“Every year I’ve been here we’ve improved. If we survive then I won’t be looking for that experience again – I’ll be looking for the experience of trying to finish in the top ten rather than out of the bottom three.”
When survival did come that month – with just three minutes to spare – the club was quick to announce a breathtaking redevelopment of Molineux that would see three of the four stands rebuilt.
To the surprise of many, it was reported that plans had been drafted that could see the capacity increased to an astonishing 50,000 seats.
The message was clear – this is a club going places – and supporters in a city badly hit by the financial crisis were encouraged to snap up the limited number of season tickets that would be available while Molineux’s capacity would be reduced due to the redevelopment.
Given these grand plans, there was some disappointment when only three players were signed in the summer.
Dorus de Vries joined on a free transfer as a reserve keeper, Roger Johnson arrived to much fanfare and Jamie O’Hara – a key member of the team that had survived on the last day – saw his loan deal made permanent.
But again the word from the club was emphatic. Chairman Steve Morgan told fans in an interview on BBC Radio WM earlier this month that Wolves were the fifth biggest net spenders in the Premier League over the past three seasons having spent more than £40million on new players.
It was a case of horrible timing. On the field, Wolves were embarking on their worst run of defeats in more than a quarter of a century.
Five matches were lost, with the team two goals down by half-time at home to QPR and Newcastle as well as losing the Black Country derby to West Bromwich Albion by two goals to nil.
When this scoreline looked set to be repeated against newly-promoted Swansea, things reached tipping point.
Nothing anybody says will convince people there was anything constructive about the chants heard at Molineux on Saturday.
But those season ticket holders did not pluck their grand ideas from thin air.
For the so-called 3Ms – Moxey, McCarthy and Morgan – this is a monster of their own making.