Saunders now the man for WolvesBy: DJ | January 7th, 2013
With the sacking of Stale Solbakken at the weekend it was reassuring to know that Wolves had a plan for his replacement and Dean Saunders has quickly been appointed to take over the managerial role. And after two failed managerial appointments it’s important now that the new man can arrest the slide that the club have been on for the last year and set them back in the right direction.
When McCarthy left the club last February in what seemed like a knee jerk reaction to the embarrassing home defeat by Albion there was an uncomfortable period where it was clear the club had given very little thought to what would happen next. And then after some conversations and interviews with the likes of Curbishley and Bruce it was ultimately decided to hand the baton to Terry Connor who went on to secure just 3 points in the remaining 13 games to secure relegation.
Then when Solbakken was appointed in the summer we always knew it was a gamble that was likely to be a spectacular success or quite the opposite. Truth is that while he seemed to have a fine plan and a vision of introducing a new modern brand of football, he never demonstrated that he had the ability to implement that plan. It all started well and when Wolves won at Blackburn on October 6th they were sitting pretty in 3rd place in the league and it all looked very promising. There were, however, no more wins in the following nine games and suddenly Wolves were in 18th. And more alarmingly was that the standard of football was now providing abysmal levels of entertainment and no signs at all of the promised improved passing style and increased possession. There was a brief respite to the plunge with three wins from four games in early December, but that proved to be a blip on the downward spiral and the three defeats over the xmas period produced a standard of football that many described as the worst they can remember from a Wolves team in recent histoory. The dye was set for Solbakken during that period and ominously Wolves appointed a Director of Recruitment. By the time the not unexpected defeat at non league Luton came around at the weekend, the Board not only decided that was the time to end the Solbakken era but also to demonstrate that it was no knee jerk reaction this time by appointing his successor 24 hours later.
Apart from poor results that had left Wolves more likely to find a way out of the Championship via relegation than promotion, it was the standard of football that alienated the paying public who were paying good money to watch football that was pedestrian and lacking passion and method. There had been no improvement in any area of the team through defending, creativity or goalscoring. And the much vaunted modern passing game was painfully absent as moderate teams were out passing Wolves and getting more possession. On top of that the manager appeared quite clearly to have lost the dressing room as we saw some of the more reliable players at the club looking unmotivated and struggling to deliver what was being asked of them. There are many Wolves fans that will feel the players let the manager down. But even some of the players that Solbakken brought in were struggling with his management and by the end it was difficult to identify anyone playing well or playing with passion.
So now Saunders comes in with the task of getting improved results and getting some motivation and enthusiasm back into the playing staff. And his infectious enthusiasm alone will be a factor in that compared to the previous regime. He comes to Wolves with a successful record at a lower level but is still relatively inexperienced and yet to prove successful in managing at Championship standard. So the main question mark against him is that he still has that to prove. But a hunger for success from the manager will not be any bad thing. And his positive infectious enthusiasm will create a better atmospohere on the training ground than his predecessor.
As a player Saunders had successful spells at Liverpool, Villa and Galatasaray and then went into coaching as assistant to Graeme Souness at Blackburn and then as striker coach at Newcastle before becoming Assistant to John Toshack as Wales manager. His first managerial position was at Conference Team Wrexham where he stayed for 3 years and left them top of that division. He then took over at a Doncaster team that had gained just one point from their first 7 games of the 2010/11 season. Although they improved under Saunders they were not able to avoid relegation to League One. But they were well on their way to regaining their Championship status when a win on Saturday took them level on points with Tranmere at the top of League One.
It’s another appointment that will be seen as a gamble by the Wolves Board who clearly see him as a man on the up in his managerial career, and his experience as a player at a top level will hopefully hold him in good stead as he takes on his biggest role yet as a manager.
What is clear is that the current squad of players at the club should be capable of achieving a much higher level in this division than 18th position. So just getting the best out of the players available to him should send the club in the right direction and then hopefully there will be continued upward improvement in a stay that everyone will be willing to be a longer period than the last two failed appointments.