Wolves opt for Jackett to change the trendBy: DJ | May 31st, 2013
So now we know that it will be Kenny Jackett who has been given the responsibility of reversing the downward spiral that Wolves have been on in recent times. Its an important appointment as Wolves can not only not afford to slip any further but indeed need to bounce back quickly to the Championship in one year’s time and then start all over again in the bid to get re-established in the top flight. But that’s all a long way away now and Jackett will firstly have to provide a team, and the motivation and the tactics to ensure Wolves are a promotion team in 2013/14.
As a player Jackett was loyal to Watford, playing in midfield and at left back. He played over 300 times for the Hornets and got 31 Welsh Caps before being forced to retire at 28 with a serious knee injury. He stayed at Watford fulfilling various coaching roles and on developing the youth players until, 6 years after retiring as a player he became Watford’s manager at 34. That probably came when he was too young and lasted just one season before Graham Taylor was brought in as the manager and Jackett became his assistant. During his year in charge he did however set a club record of 22 games without defeat. As Taylor’s assistant they gained consecutive promotions, taking Watford to the top flight. When Taylor was replaced by Vialli, the Italian brought his own staff in and there was no place for Jacket.
He then became assistant to Ian Holloway at QPR and again his team achieved promotion before he got his first real chance as a manager when appointed to take over at Swansea. In his first season he won promotion from League Two and won the Welsh Cup. And the following season he almost secured another promotion but lost out in the Play Offs but he did win the Welsh Cup again, and the Football League Trophy. In February 2007 despite having Swansea in the top 6 all season he left the club by mutual consent. After a spell as Man City’s reserve team coach he was then taken on by Sven Goran Erikson as first team coach at the club. In his last 15 games there City won 11. Then after he left, City won only 5 of their next 21.
He left City to become Millwall manager in November 2007 at a time when they were in the bottom 3 of League One. He secured safety for them and went on to win League One manager of the month 3 times in the next year. And in 2008/09 he took Millwall to the play offs only for them to lose out in the Final. But the following year they were back in the play offs again after missing out on automatic promotion by one point behind Leeds. And this time they gained promotion with a Play Off final success against Swindon. He took Millwall to 9th in the Championship in his first season at that level but the following two years saw the Lions fighting against relegation, although also to an FA Cup Semi Final. With the club unable to invest to improve the playing staff Jackett decided to leave the club at the end of the 2012/13 season feeling he had taken the South London club as far as he could and he wanted a new challenge.
The initial priority for him at Wolves will be to see what players will be retained by the club from last season. We already know that Ebanks Blake, Berra and Hunt will be moving on after their contracts expire at the end of June. And the players at the club on loan last season, Robinson, Gorkss, Dicko and Peszko have gone back to their parent clubs. It seems certain that Sako and Doyle will be sold to compensate the club for the reduced income next season. And it is likely that other players will move on if they can find clubs willing to pay them the salaries they pick up (I almost said earned) at Wolves. Johnson and O’Hara are two players that hardly anybody at the club or in the stands want to stay. And it will be interesting to see if the likes of Henry, Ward, Foley, Jonsson and Hamill have a future at the club. Then there are the players that Solbakken brought along like Doumbia, Boukari and Sigurdarson who would hardly have seen League One as their destination when they moved to the UK. And with Hennessey moving towards fitness it is unlikely the club would retain all three keepers of him, Ikeme and De Vries.
So the new names that we will likely see as regulars in the Wolves team will include Doherty, Batth and Davis and maybe some more of the academy players that arrived on the fringe of the first team last season like Forde, MacAlinden and Cassidy. And although this summer will mainly be about reducing the wage bill again, Jackett will be allowed some budget to bring in some new players, and the irony is that even at this low ebb for Wolves he may still have more money to play with in the market than he would have had at Millwall.
The appointment of Jackett has not been one that has people dancing in the streets of Wolverhampton but there is a will to be supportive of a new guy that will hopefully provide at the least a step in the right direction compared to the failed appointments of Connor, Solbakken and Saunders. Wolves are a big club in League One and are already installed as favourites to win that division next season. There were mixed views on how high expectations should be in the Premier League or even in the Championship, although relegation was never an expectation this time last year. But next year the expectation is Promotion and nothing else will do. Wolves cannot be going into this division looking for a year of consolidation, and success is essential. So lets hope that Kenny Jackett can get together a team to achieve that target, and if he does then the first step in his new role will have been a successful one.