McCarthy was clinging on to his job at Molineux by his fingernails last night after another dreadful experience on home turf, with over 200 fans outside the ground demanding his dismissal after the game as mutiny hung in the Black Country air.
Any defeat against bitter rivals is difficult enough to take but this was a horrific afternoon for the former Ireland manager and he is facing an uncertain future as he bids to complete six years in charge this summer.
It was the ideal anniversary gift for Roy Hodgson, who celebrated 12 months in charge on Saturday, and they could have even won by a more embarrassing margin, such was the insipid performance of their bitter enemies. Peter Odemwingie was the chief tormentor with a hat-trick and Albion can certainly erase any fears of being sucked into a relegation scrap themselves.
But this could yet have severe repercussions for McCarthy after a sixth defeat in seven games at Molineux. Steve Morgan, the chairman, was not at the game yesterday but would have been tempted to make another dressing room invasion after this.
Morgan tore into McCarthy’s players after the last home game, the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool, but this was much, much worse.
Jerome Thomas could have put the visitors ahead after just two minutes but was frustrated by a brilliant save from Wayne Hennessey, while the Wales international goalkeeper was also required to repel attempts from Marc-Antoine Fortune, Odemwingie and, impressively, Paul Scharner. Hennessey’s heroics were required in the opening 23 minutes.
Wolves were laboured, sluggish and second best. There were gaping holes all over the Molineux field for Albion to exploit and any fears Hodgson may have had over their profligacy returning to haunt them were dispelled 10 minutes before half-time.
They needed a slice of fortune to finally beat Hennessey, however, as Odemwingie’s drive took a substantial deflection off Dave Edwards to leave the Wolves goalkeeper helpless.
Wolves were playing poorly but, out of nowhere, came an equaliser to completely transform the mood. It was the only moment of quality displayed by the hosts in 45 minutes of dross as Steven Fletcher cleverly found space before rifling into the corner for his 10th goal of the season.
That unexpected, undeserved equaliser momentarily knocked Albion out of their stride for the second half but they regained superiority to take a 65th-minute lead, in strange circumstances.
Gareth McAuley headed against a post and Roger Johnson’s bizarre clearance, arcing 30 yards high into the air, fell to Jonas Olsson, whose snap-shot was spilled by Hennessey.
The game ebbed and flowed, with Johnson seeing a header deflected onto the West Brom crossbar before Kevin Foley cleared Odemwingie’s effort off the line.
But a sixth home defeat in seven for McCarthy was sealed when Wolves dithered again in defence, to allow Odemwingie to shoot through a cluster of players into the corner.
A debut goal for Keith Andrews, a drive from 20 yards, and Odemwingie’s deserved third only inflamed an already poisonous atmosphere, with McCarthy enduring “sacked in the morning” chants from his own supporters housed in the Jack Harris Stand.
With another two weeks until Wolves return to action, this could be the time for Wolves to act. McCarthy’s apology may be futile.