You could hear that unmistakable chant in the background of Mikey Burrows commentary on the radio. I’m sure at one point us Wolves fans actually sang the song out of genuine affection for Muscat. Now it was just a stick to beat Norwich with.
More than being a method of winding-up the opposition, the song was a hark back to the old days of football. The days of hatchet men and lovable rogues. More romantic days to some. Kevin probably just knew that Craig Bellamy would turn out as annoying a human being as he did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Foresight even better.
I was never quite sure what to make of Kevin Muscat. He fell into that lovable rogue bracket, but he often played football like he had better things to be doing. As if the 90 minutes were getting in the way of him going to see his old dear. The best way out was usually a red card. Did he really need to pop round in 2002 against Grimsby at home though?
I do think the frostiness between the two clubs goes beyond that though. I think partly because Norwich have always kind of been there. Over the past 20 years we’ve seen far too much of each other, our recent histories mirrored. Mediocrity, failed promotion pushes, relegations and resurgence. False dawns and betrayal. It all came to a head in 2002 in the play-offs. Malky Mackay, Paul McVeigh and his cheeks like Noddy. I was coming up to 10 years old and I remember going to The Stile in Whitmore Reans to watch ITV Digital. What a time to be alive. Pretty sure I ended the day in tears.
Norwich. Not you lot again? Like popping round to a mates house for New Year’s Eve, you remember what happened the year before when you scythed down Bellamy and broke his leg. Are they gonna be there again? For God’s sake. It’s the arse end of nowhere and the Football League decide it’s a good idea to plonk the game in midweek. The clocks have gone back and the temperatures are dropping. The Portu-geezers won’t be able to hack it will they? This game was fraught with danger in any other season gone by. Some brutish striker – usually Grant Holt or Cameron Jerome – would inevitably bundle one in of his backside. But then along came Nuno.
As Wolves fans we’ve come to the realisation we are not invincible. In Mr Championship’s world no-one is. In his morbid outlook on life the only inevitability is death. Nuno offers an antidote to that. There will be times when we aren’t quite at it. But he treats victory and defeat in the same way. Back to work. Each of our defeats this season has been followed by victory. Not only victory, but a clean sheet. Southampton. Burton. Now Norwich. Nuno ensures his charges never let up.
From a footballing perspective Nuno is ever the pragmatist. He understands the basis of a good side is from the defence. He also understands the need to freshen things up from time to time. Yesterday was the time for Bennett and Boly. This may have been tactical, but when you have the strength in depth at the back that Wolves have, you need to keep players involved as much as possible.
Big Willy is a serious mammoth of a player. I confess again to never having seen him play, but it’s no wonder he had the freedom of the box to score his goal as I certainly would not want the responsibility of marking him. Chuck N’Diaye and Bennett into the mix and suddenly the starting XI had a serious physical presence about it. This was plan A minus. We don’t have a Plan B because ‘we must always put our ideas out on to the pitch.’ This was the steroids version of Plan A. The ‘just hit-the-gym’ version. More explosive and more stout with extra fizz and down-right power. It sounded as if we should have scored many more. No matter as the boys at the back repelled all.
Another game fraught with danger soundly dealt with by this Wolves side. How often do we need to hear that we have been the better team? Not in the days of McCarthy was the white flag of defeat raised in our direction. But that was Championship football. This is football from another realm.
As many of us may have read today, this success can come at a cost. Nuno is the beautiful woman hanging off our arm. He’s the one we thought we’d never get, but we were introduced by a mutual friend at a dinner party – thanks Uncle Jorge – and sparks just flew. He’s turning heads though now. It’s an occupational hazard. As with beautiful women though, if you treat them correctly they have no reason to leave your side, right? We’ve bought Nuno the designer bag. We’ve given him the keys to the holiday home in St Tropez. Heck we even docked SS Ruben Neves at his port. The Premier League will come calling. Nuno sees that. Just understand these occupational hazards are a sign of our success.
Back to work. Fulham on Friday.