Bristol City's Liam Kelly says Wolves' fate shows anything can happen in the Championship
Liam Kelly reckons Wolverhampton Wanderers’ plight proves anything can happen in the npower Championship.
Regarded as one of the most unpredictable leagues in world football, the English second tier never ceases to surprise.
But the alarming slump that has seen once-proud Wolves sleepwalk their way into a relegation fight is one of the more notable tales of the unexpected to have emerged this season.
If City and fellow strugglers Barnsley and Peterborough were widely tipped to be relegated before the start of the campaign, Wolves were expected to challenge for a quick return to the Premier League.
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A decline that can be charted since the ill-fated decision to sack Mick McCarthy as manager 12 months ago was hastened by the appointment last summer of Stale Solbakken, since when new boss Dean Saunders has been unable to halt a slide that has left Wanderers just one place off the foot of the table and in real danger of suffering back-to-back relegations.
Looking ahead to what amounts to a proverbial six-pointer between the division’s bottom two sides at Molineux tomorrow, City midfielder Kelly said: “Had you told me the two teams would be separated by just one place at this stage of the season, I would have assumed Bristol City were going for the play-offs.
“What has happened to Wolves has surprised everyone,” acknowledged Kelly. “The Championship is an interesting league and it shows anything is possible.”
Wolves held a 10 point advantage over the Robins after winning 4-0 at Ashton Gate on December 1. But that gap has been eroded during a poor run of results that has seen the Midland club win just once in 14 league games and accrue a meagre eight points from 42.
In contrast, City have improved dramatically under the stewardship of head coach Sean O’Driscoll and they go into this weekend’s big match fortified by genuine forward momentum.
Reflecting on a healthy return of 17 points from 11 games, Kelly said: “Momentum is absolutely crucial in this league and we are unbeaten in four games and have kept three consecutive clean sheets.
“That is something we have at the moment and he have to keep the ball rolling. There are nine games to play and every single one of them is as important as any other.
“We cannot afford to look at the bigger picture though. Wolves is the next game and nothing else matters right now.”
Having first set foot inside Ashton Gate just 48 hours before Derek McInnes was sacked as manager in January, the former Kilmarnock man is in a good position to appreciate the change in atmosphere.
He recalled: “Things were pretty bad back then. I’d only been here a day or so when the manager went and the dressing room was really down after that 4-0 defeat against Leicester.
“Things have changed a lot since then and we’ve won five out of six home games to build momentum.
“It has been fantastic and the supporters have played their part in making Ashton Gate a difficult place for opposition teams to come to.”
City have taken a solitary point from five away games since O’Driscoll took charge and Kelly admits: “The next step is to turn home form into away form.
“If we can do that, it will make a massive difference to our position and improve our chances of getting out of trouble.”