Behind Enemy Lines: Wolves
Put yourself in the position of a Wolverhampton Wanderers fans and it's safe to assume the 2011/12 campaign is one you would want to forget. And fast.
With results suffering and confidence low, manager Mick McCarthy was shown the door in February on the back of a humiliating 5-1 defeat at Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion.
Since then, the club have picked up just three points from a possible 33 under McCarthy's temporary replacement Terry Connor and two weeks ago their inevitable relegation was confirmed.
Yet, ask supporters of a black and gold persuasion, and the mood around Molineux is not the one of doom and gloom you might expect.
Tim Nash of the Wolverhampton Express and Star and Jack Ward of wolvesforum.co.uk explain more as we go Behind Enemy Lines...
Since the 2-0 defeat to Manchester City which made a drop through the relegation trapdoor unavoidable, you could forgive the mood among Wolves’ fans and players for being tinged with self-pity.
Yet, that hasn't necessarily been the case.
"It all seems a bit light-hearted to be honest," says Wolves fan Ward. "We hoped we wouldn't be going down, but I think we all knew we were.”
"There was a lot of anger in the weeks leading up to it," notes Express and Star man Nash, someone who has been there every step of the way as Wolves' season has dwindled towards disappointment. "It started with the 5-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion which triggered the dismissal of Mick McCarthy. There was a lot of anger after that game and demonstrations by about 100 people.
"It was the same after the 2-0 defeat to Blackburn, because I think a lot of people felt that was the final nail in the coffin. But I think that was the moment of realisation for fans that they were going down, they became resigned to their fate and then the gallows humour started coming in."
TOUGH ON TERRY
It's little secret that having ended McCarthy’s five-and-a-half year reign at the club, Wolves went on the hunt for a replacement with abundant Premier League experience.
But unable to attract a suitable candidate from outside the club, the board turned to Terry Connor - a backroom figure at Molineux for almost two decades who was thrust into the limelight and one of the most unenviable tasks in football.
"I think there was definitely some sympathy with him getting the job because of the timing of it," says Nash. "I think for anybody coming in at that point with 13 games to go and the team on a downward spiral, it was always going to be difficult."
Ward agrees there is a degree of sympathy towards the stand-in appointment, but doesn't expect him to be the man in charge come the start of next season.
"There's a lot of sympathy for him - he's done his best and you can see he genuinely cares about the club," he says. "But I think he's been too tainted by his involvement with this desperately forgetful season to be given a chance next season.”
"I think a lot of the players and the board have really seen what a good job he's done in terms of getting improved performances out of the players and the team - and they have noticeably been playing more football," adds Nash. "It's now three points out of 33 and no wins for Terry though, and unfortunately fans just see the results. It's difficult to see him keeping the job with the results they've produced, and he's admitted that this week."
SO WHAT ABOUT SUNDAY?
Fate having shown its hand, Wolves will at least hope to restore a little pride in the final week of the campaign.
Sunday's outing is their last on home soil and Connor and his players will no doubt be desperate to sign off with a first win in front of their own supporters in 10 attempts.
In Everton, though, they are facing a side unbeaten in seven in the league and firing on all cylinders.
"Everton are producing their normal second half of the season revival and, of course, in Nikica Jelavic they appear to have a player with dynamite in his boots at the moment. He will be a test Wolves haven't had before and something to be aware of. It won't be an easy one for them."
"You’ve got some excellent players and in David Moyes I think you have one of the best managers in the league," adds Ward. "As for Sunday, we'll play well, we won't give up and we’ll fight and probably score. It's our last game at home, everybody's stinging a bit, so we may play like we should have done all along.
"But,” he adds, “I still think you'll shade it."