Succumbing to the agony of relegation isn’t an easy process to go through for any football supporter. Every match day expectation that a revival is just around the corner is dashed as the club crumbles unceremoniously towards the trap door and into the abyss. Soon enough the feeling of deflation sets in making the process of passing through the turnstiles and taking your seat an unwanted chore. At this current juncture any Wolverhampton Wanderers purist will surely reciprocate those sentiments. They’ve had to endure a season of decline at Molineux watching their side plummet like a lead balloon to the Premier League basement.
Propping up the rest with five games remaining and a nine point chasm between them and safety it’s almost a foregone conclusion that they’ll be kicking off the next campaign in the Championship. Seven defeats on the bounce and two wins in the last 20 games will have solidified that notion.
The stigma of relegation is something no one looks forward to facing. The tightening of financial belts, a player exodus and the prospect of doing a ‘Leeds’ weighs heavily on the minds of supporters. Making an immediate return to the top-flight is no easy feat by any stretch of the imagination; Wolves fans will be well aware of that following their demotion eight-years ago. However for every ‘Leeds’ scenario there is a ‘Newcastle’. The Magpies dropped out of the Premier League with debts spilling out of their ears as their star players billowed out of the exit door. The scene was set for a demise of cataclysmic proportion. Two-years later and they’re challenging for a place in the top-four and Champions League football. Wanderers aficionado’s can surely take solace in that?
Dropping down a division isn’t the end of the world and for Wolves the positive aspects of a year out of the top flight far outweigh the negatives. It will give them an opportunity to rid the squad of its dead wood and provide a fresh start for the players who will be charged with ensuring the club are firmly in the promotion mix. However finding the right individual to guide them towards that goal should be at the forefront of the individuals taking up refuge in the boardroom. Arguably, the decision of chairman Steve Morgan and chief executive Jez Moxey to change their manager mid-way through the season contributed most to their tailspin towards relegation. Sacking Mick McCarthy without a replacement lined up cast Morgan and Moxey in a bad light. The rushed appointment of Terry Connor has backfired drastically with the coach-turned-manager boasting just a solitary point from eight games in charge.
With the spectre of the Championship looming over them, Morgan and Moxey have to make the correct calls in the close season to ensure Wolves don’t suffer a debilitating relegation hangover. Despite being handed the reins full-time it’s likely Connor will be asked to vacate the manager’s office. Steve Bruce and Lee Clark have already been touted as favourites to take over in the Midlands offering two different propositions. Bruce has the experience and credentials on his side after leading Birmingham to promotion along with stabilising Sunderland and Wigan in the Premier League. However a younger manager like Clark would bring a vibrancy and eagerness to prove his capability to manage at a higher level than League Two. Whoever comes in will bring with them a fresh impetus and different ideas that are needed for a team that has stagnated for much of this season.
A new face in the dugout and changes on the pitch are essential to revitalise a squad that will be shorn of its star names. Whoever takes up the mantle in the summer will have to work without the likes of Kevin Doyle, Steven Fletcher, Matt Jarvis & Stephen Ward who won’t be short of top-flight suitors. Ridding themselves of the passengers and high earners in the squad is also vital to their transformation and relegation will present the opportunity to do that. Keeping players like Michael Kightly, Jamie O’Hara and Wayne Hennessey will be crucial to developing a stable spine and a new manager could be key to achieving that. Should they go down and lose their big names Wanderers will still have a group of players capable of holding their own outside of the Premier League. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is a proven goal getter at that level whilst captain Roger Johnson is a solid defender and will be a pivotal figure despite a torrid first year at the club. Offering players like Johnson the opportunity to redeem themselves and right the wrongs of this season could be used as a form of motivation. The drive to prove the doubters who had written them off can stir the fire in a squad’s collective belly. All that is needed is the right leader to coax it out.
That lies at the door of Morgan and Moxey who will, hopefully, have learned from the mistakes made during the current campaign. Wolves have the squad and infrastructure to mount a serious promotion challenge and make a swift return to the Premier League. More so it’s a window of opportunity to wipe the slate clean and breathe new life into a football club that is currently on its knees. Amidst all the doom and gloom of relegation planning early and securing a manager who inspires confidence in the dressing and the stands is the first step on their road to redemption.