Writer: Ben Nicholas
Date:Thursday August 16 2012
It had been going so well. The bold and unexpected appointment of Stale Solbakken amongst a sea of managerial mediocrity revitalised interests to begin with.
Then came the exciting signing of Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, the young striker who had apparently been courting Premier League interest bolstered an already impressive looking Championship strike force. And while we were all whispering it quietly, there had been a distinct lack of reported interest in Molineux`s crown jewels.
Even the unimaginable, the sight of blue skies and that strange bright yellow thing in the sky had begun to peak through against a backdrop of an unforgettable sporting summer which took national pride soaring to unprecedented levels.
Trust in Wolverhampton Wanderers then, to bring you back down to earth with a bump.
It started off with dismay at the sale of Adlene Guedioura to Championship rivals Nottingham Forrest. Fan`s had hoped under new management the Algerian international would finally be given the chance to showcase his undoubted potential, but reasons frustratingly unknown, it was not to be. Guedioura to score at Molineux this season now seems as safe a bet as any.
Next it was Christophe Berra`s turn to steal the headlines, a transfer request. Fans blinked but were unmoved, still hurting from a season of defensive ineptitude of which Berra was not exempt. Little did we know Berra would be the shepherd to lead the sheep.
Then came the grumblings from the Potteries of an interest in Michael Kightly, one of the few bright sparks of optimism to take into the new season. Surely he would reward the club who plucked him from obscurity, stuck by him through injury torment and gave him Premiership football with a pulsating season to push us back into the big time. Loyalty and logic unfortunately don`t exist in football, and with the 26-year-old rejecting a new deal, Wolves decided to cash in on the winger. While the club can`t be blamed for this, it is frustrating that they weren`t willing to let him leave for free next summer with a potential £90 million promotion windfall in the bag; he did after all only cost the club £25,000 back in 2007.
The domino effect had begun and with increasing reports of large bids being rejected for his services and with his reported loyalty bonus in his contract paid for the year, Steven Fletcher duly handed in his transfer request. "#heads gone" he tweeted. Reports of Sunderland needing to stoop up around £15 million for the striker have certainty made some reporters head into their local Boots for an eye check-up, but with the start of the season fast approaching and the two clubs reportedly in deadlock it seems Martin O`Neill`s desperation for a new striker worsens. Moxey, sitting in his office, cat on his lap, clasping his hands together smiling, waits for the call.
Perhaps the most alarming developments of the past few weeks were the team`s performances on the field. On Saturday against Aldershot Town of League 2, just a week before the season kicks off at Elland Road the team were slow to get going, and wasteful in front of goal, Wolves truthfully looked disjointed in their first competitive outing under their new manager. The week prior they were swept aside with ease by newly promoted Southampton.
After the game came the next hammer blow, Solbakken confirming Matty Jarvis was also looking to leave the club, with West Ham reportedly showing an interest in the fan favourite. While hardly
surprising, the growing anger from Wolves fans at a bunch of lads that were supposed to be different, supposed to be honest and loyal like their former manager, was clear to see.
So here we are with just days to go until the start of the new season and it all feels like it has come too soon for the club. Players which could excel at championship level, Wayne Hennessey, Jamie O`Hara are still looking like long term absentees. The desperate need for defensive recruitment hasn`t materialised. Players are still uncertain over their futures, with at least six being on the transfer list, and others still look uncertain with tactics, in particular with playing higher up the pitch, so how it will work out over the next few weeks is anyone`s guess.
Solbakken has admitted that "everything`s a little unsettled, It would be stupid to say everything is fine because it`s not.' The 44-year-old must be getting flashback to his time at his former club FC Köln. At least in that we can take a crumb of comfort, for the Norwegian has the experience of dealing with egos, even if his time at the German club was unsuccessful.
So as I finish writing this, the dark grey skies and torrential downpour has finished, and sun is attempting to break through, like the weather, Wolves will have to suffer a dew downpours along the way, but as the old cliché article ending line goes, out of darkness cometh light.
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Date:Thursday August 16 2012
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Wolves hunt for promotion is building (Monday January 19 2015)
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