Deano arrives as the revolution becomes Stale.
If football was not such a result based game then maybe he would have stayed. If fans and board members saw teams as cyclical and that ideologies and systems take time to impress on a team then maybe he would have stayed.
With a new year comes a new Wolves, Solbakken has departed and Saunders is deemed the right man to try and fire us to the play offs. It is good to appreciate what Stale did for Wolves, he had an incredibly tough job, picking up a team, shattered by relegation and drunk (no pun intended Roger, honest) with disillusion, he had to not only motivate the squad and show them how to win again, but implement his style on the team as well, oh and the fact there were fans and board members expecting, at the very least a playoff position. For some managers it works, the ‘click’ comes quickly; see Steve Bruce at Hull for an example or Steve Clarke at Albion. I admire Stale’s footballing beliefs and ideas about the game and given time I think he would have turned it around, Solbakken was very unlucky with injuries and the timing of departures meant he could not spend the funds received for messrs Jarvis, Fletcher and Kightly. He was given an impossible task and I feel after the Peterborough game was on borrowed time. Unfortunately it did not work for him, let’s hope he can get back to punching dugouts for another team, as soon as possible.
After the embarrassing, but ultimately not surprising, loss to Luton in the FA cup, a new dawn began on that very Monday, the man who has masterminded Doncaster’s revival to the top of the third tier of English football was appointed as the man to guide Wolves through the fog of uncertainty and poor performances and give the club some fight and passion. After his press conference a new wave of optimism swept across social media, Saunders gave the fans, in 15 minutes, his ideas and what he wants. Simple and pragmatic, we knew what he wanted and so will the players, there will not be any more confusion around Molineux, hallelujah. Furthermore, credit must go to Moxey and Morgan, something that they have not been used to, for firing Solbakken and not spending forever in getting a new manager, ala 2011/2012 season, and instead have swiftly appointed a manager in the mould of Mick rather than Stale. I may get abuse for praising them, but at least they have learnt from past mistakes.
Dean Saunders retired in 2001 after scoring an impressive 190 career goal for a variety of different clubs, 12 inn fact, including Liverpool, Benfica and Galatasaray. He was appointed as manager of Wrexham in 2008 where he built the club up from nothing into a stable club, this earned him the position at Doncaster Rovers which ended in relegation, ultimately. The signings of El Hadji Diouf, Pascal Chimbonda and Habib Beye plus several others slowly dragged the club into League 1, with the help of a controversial agent Willie McKay, who signed these players on short term contracts and on low ages, most Rovers fans blamed McKay for going down, as his “experiment” failed. Once he left Saunders got rid of the dead wood and produced a team of grafters and hard workers, this mentality has seen Doncaster climb up to second in League 1, level on points with Tranmere, pretty impressive if you ask me, seeing Rovers at the top of the pile shows Saunders’ ability as a manager. He is a pragmatist and will not try to be too clever, make things simple for the team and try not to give them too much to think about, something that Stale did not do.
He walked down the tunnel to a rapturous applause on Friday 11th January, clad in Barbour jacket, Saunders watched Wolves defend well and gain a valuable point against a manager less, but in form, Blackburn Rovers side. For the first 26 minutes, at least, Wolves looked reinvigorated, from back to front the team looked solid and defended well, Berra and Johnson performed well, with the ever brilliant David Davis sitting in front, guarding the defence and being the pivote, on which the team mounted their attacks. Wolves kept Blackburn’s midfield back and restricted them to limited chances, whilst at the other end, the young and exciting Jake Cassidy was given his chance to show what made him such a lethal finisher in League 1, he was taken off with 11 minutes to go and received a standing ovation, rightly so, he showed his dominant ability in the air but was restricted in terms of chances in front of goal, he is another prospect coming out of the youth academy, something that Wolves fans should look at and be proud that we have such a bunch of talented, young players on the cusp of the first team. The decision on 26 minutes was wrong and from then on the team looked sucker punched. Into the second half and Wolves came out fighting again, something that never happened under Solbakken and the introduction of O Hara changed the game completely and Wolves pegged Rovers back with a header Roger Johnson, a player who has really turned his career round at Wolves, from turning up drunk to training to becoming a leader in a team struggling down the wrong end of the league, he has been one of the best players for Wolves this season.
Tactically, Saunders set up quite defensively, Foley at right midfield was there to keep Rochina back and to an extent it did work, his decision to take the improving Zubar off and put on the werewolf-esque Peszko was great to see. His quick movement and his style of play is reminiscent of an old fashioned winger, leaving the pitch with chalk on his boots. He gave Wolves a good balance in the midfield and he will start to weave his way back into the first team, once fitness and sharpness improves. The return of Premier league quality players such as the aforementioned Peszko and O Hara gave wolves some guile and craft in the midfield, something the team is desperate for, eleven work horses, bar Sako, are not going to fire you up the league, however hard they work.
To conclude, the future is bright for Wolves, we all said these things 8 months ago and it has lead to saying it all over again, with a different man at the helm. It is unusual for Wolves fans to see so many managers coming and going, this is a good thing; we are not a firing club and we will not ever be. The playoffs may seem like a dream at the point in time but with Saunders pragmatic and rigours regime in place Wolves will, I am sure, start to pick up those vital wins. Saunders will make sure Wolves will not be naive and not let teams walk all over us, at home especially. There is 18 games left to save Wolves’ season, expectations have changed and so has the management, but come Saturday we will all still be there.
The belief is edging its way back in. Come on Wolves!