Wot no Wolves Manager yet?
Sitting at my computer on a sunny bank holiday Monday morning, charged with the task of maintaining the flow of WWFC news in Akela`s absence, I feel frustrated rather than liberated. As I have virtually retired, it`s less a day off work, more an anxious wait for signs of progress on the managerial search front.
Of course, there`s every likelihood that yet more names will be put forward today, including ones even dafter than some of those propping up the pile of potential candidates already being considered ... reputedly. It`s now twenty days since the board sacked Dean Saunders and we are no nearer discovering the identity of the next holder of the poisoned chalice than we were on 7 May.
It`s not that I am complaining because we need to get it right this time and that requires patience, a rigorous selection process and careful analysis of the capabilities of each candidate. I really hope that this is what is taking place and that the board is not merely marking time before telling us that Kenny Jackett has been appointed to the job he was offered three weeks ago.
For the sake of argument, let`s presume that members of the board are still open-minded about the candidates and will base their decision solely on what is best for the club, a big ask given the botched job they have made of it over the past three years. To be fair, the current task is not an easy one because it entails finding a person who possesses seemingly conflicting skills. Does the board appoint someone attuned to the demands of the lower divisions, who will take us back to our rightful place in the PL, or someone who will keep us in the top flight once we get there?
So far, we have been operating one step behind the division in which we have been playing: sacking McCarthy, the ideal Championship manager, while in the PL, then getting rid of Saunders, a good Division 1 manager, while in the Championship. And that is to ignore the appointment of Stale Solbakken, whom we acquired two steps behind our participation in the European Champions` League.
In essence, the board has to decide between youngish managers, with potential, as displayed by their record in the lower divisions, and older has-beens with big-time experience but with failures plastered over their CV successes. Ironically, it might come down to a toss-up between Steve Davis and Owen Coyle, who would fit neatly into their respective categories, were it not for the fact that the latter is a couple of years younger than the Crewe boss.
Personally, I favour Steve Davis, whose success at Crewe and the manner in which he has achieved it, make him a strong candidate. Not only does his team play attractive, positive football of the kind we can only dream about at WWFC at the moment, but he has achieved it by bringing on the club`s youngsters. Given that we are in the process of dumping all the dross at the club (pity about Hunt), he could do a similar job with our own talented academy players, the ones, on whom we now have to rely.
Moreover, when in two or three years time he gets us back into the PL (I live in hope), he will have gained the experience that will keep us there. If the rumoured concern among some board members over his relative inexperience, understandable in the aftermath of Dean Saunders`s failure, is true, I would argue that he has far more potential than our erstwhile manager. Saunders was clearly out of his depth, was tactically inept, self-delusional and incapable of responding effectively to changing circumstances on the pitch. Davis is superior in every department.
Of the established managers, who have only become available for consideration because of past failures, I would prefer McClaren to Owen Coyle. He did well at Middlesbrough, proved an able coach and resurrected his career at FC Twente after the debacle of his period as England`s manager. I still recall the horror of the Croatia match, which I listened to on the car radio, driving home from Aylesbury in pouring rain.
Two years ago I would have welcomed Owen Coyle, who improved Bolton`s position in the PL at a time when MM was making things worse at WWFC. While Bolton snuggled safely in mid-table, we survived with less than three minutes to go. However, he could not maintain that progress and the team slumped the following season, accompanying us down to the Championship. Had the board not sacked him, Bolton could have joined us in Division 1 as well. This has made me question his ability (as do Bolton boggers) and whether he could turn round our fortunes (though I viewed Steve Bruce`s application with the same degree of suspicion).
Then, there`s Kenny Jackett, who fits into neither category. I will be unhappy if the whole selection process proves to be a charade but I do see him as an acceptable compromise candidate. He laid the foundations for Swansea`s success and has done a good job at Milwall under difficult circumstances. Have you ever gone to The Den as a rival supporter or even as a Milwall fan for that matter? He has the credentials to make us promotion candidates, would improve our style of play and would work well with the young squad at his disposal.
Now it`s up to you, Mr. Morgan. If the job is to prove less a poisoned chalice than the Division 1 champion`s cup, you have to learn from past mistakes. You have to support the person you choose ...and he has to be the right man for the job not a shoe-in.