A Week At Wolves
Almost three years ago to the day, Wolves fans everywhere were celebrating the club's resurrection as a top flight team.
A convincing 3-0 win over now, newly promoted Sheffield Wednesday saw the side rejoin the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United in the big time, and the promise of a bright future amongst the Premiership big hitters, and a return to the glory days of Billy Wright and Stan Cullis.
But the stay was to be short lived, ending bottom on goal difference, and as soon as the dream had started, it was over.
Two draw packed, underachieving seasons and a change of manager followed, and now Wolves face the grim reality of life in The Championship bereft of Premier parachute payments or Sir Jack Haywards millions.
Last Tuesday a board meeting was held to discuss what measures would be undertaken to ensure that the club once widely regarded as the richest in the division could balance the books, that are now light to the sum of up to ten million pounds.
The one sacrifice the press had widely expected, wasnt offered to them on a silver platter.
Glenn Hoddle's head held high by CEO Jez Moxey would have topped some journalists season, but the board were in mood to curry favour with the media.
The former England boss will continue at the helm for another season at least, which has brought mixed noises from the Molineux faithful.
Some are pointing to Wolves poor performances in the latter half of the 2005/06 season, and an unnacceptable 7th table finish as reason enough to be advertising the managerial post as vacant.
Others are pleased the board has stuck with a consistent approach, feeling that the managerial merry go round hasn't worked thus far, and that Hoddle shouldn't be jettisoned for the sake of an offering.
Not just yet, anyway.
Afterwards, Hoddle was philosophical about the new era.
'We've got to be more reliant on the young players. And youngsters will come in and get their opportunities before their time; we're just going to have to accept that.
'We might have to look at a different style of play - we're not going to be at the top end of the market any more. But my principals about how the game should be played will not be changed.
'The division will be harder than ever. Sunderland, West Brom and Birmingham are going to use their money to try to get out straight away and they will be strong.
'It's going to be tough for these kids and they are going to need a few 'daddies' to help them through. We can't leave them to fend for themselves and we will have to be careful because we can't let it go too far or we will get into trouble at the wrong end of the table.
'We will be a younger team with less expectation depending on how many youngsters we have to bring in. But it's going to be a building process.'
Others have not been so lucky, and will play no further part in the building process. Vio Ganea, Maurice Ross, Darren Anderton and Stefan Postma have all been told that their contracts will not be renewed, whilst others will be left wondering if there is one eye being kept on their market value, and the other on the ten million pound black hole at the heart of the Wanderers finances.
But the team news hasn't been all bad. Young Stephen Gleeson has become the seventh Academy youngster to be offered proffesional terms. There has been the surprise offers of deals for veterans Mark Kennedy and Colin Cameron, as well as deals tabled for Paul Ince and Hungarian International Denes Rosa.
And there is the small matter of Matt Murray's recent return to first team action, possibly a factor in the release of Dutchman Postma.
Wanderers must now adapt if they are to do more than simply survive. Glenn Hoddle has already stated that there will be a need to step away form his chosen course of loaning fledgling players out, to bringing some of them through sooner than he would ideally like to, the inherent dangers of which are obvious to all.
Should those young men be found to be wanting at Championship level, Wolves could not only find themselves in a bottom half of the league battle, they could also be playing to a half empty stadium.
CEO Jez Moxey summed up the situation when he said :
'We need a culture change and want to hear the fans back us now just as they did when we became the underdogs in the Premiership.
'They got behind us as only they can that season. We know they remain the bedrock of the club but in this new era perhaps there is a chance for an even closer bond with the team. That bond may enable us to finally turn Molineux to an advantage worth 15 points or such like a season.
'We have to lower the expectations without killing the support - that's a key message which we have to take to the supporters this summer.
'They have to understand that this is a new time for the club now and those young players out there will need that 12th man up in the stands more than ever.'
'Now it's time for our players to over-achieve.'
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