A poor Sunderland side were defeated against an impressive Wolves side. It spared the Wolves chairman the embarrassment of calling McCarthy to account only days after allowing the chief executive Jez Moxey to respond to unhappy fans by reaffirming their backing for their under-fire employee.

With 13 minutes left, Danny Welbeck headed Sunderland in front, diverting Phil Bardsley’s cross wide of Hennessey. But, as McCarthy never tires of repeating, Wolves can seldom be faulted for effort. Sunderland lost their composure at the back and when a Jarvis cross was headed back across goal by Elokobi, Gordon could not save cleanly and the substitute Stephen Hunt forced home his first Wolves goal.

Then Ebanks-Blake, introduced with only 10 minutes to provide belated support for the tireless Kevin Doyle, did what he does best and bought time for his manager, dealing Sunderland only a second defeat in 13 games. “If I had been wearing a heart monitor it would have made interesting reading,” McCarthy said. “They put me through it but as usual they gave me every last drop of effort.”