Wolves are down and out

Wolverhampton Wanderers have been relegated to League One after losing the last match of the season away to Brighton. A miserable 12 months has seen the midlands club relegated from the Premiership and then struggle throughout this campaign to end in 23rd place in the Championship. Fans and pundits thought that they would look to immediately bounce back from the drop at the end of the 2011/2012 season, but instead of enjoying life around the top end of the table they found themselves slipping further down the standings with alarming ease. Ultimately they had no answers to the situation and consecutive relegations will force many questions to be asked.


Several months before the end of the 2011/2012 Premiership season, Mick McCarthy’s five year spell in charge was ended in dismissal, as the owners sought to rescue the club from the bottom three position they occupied at the time. His assistant, Terry Connor, took charge for the remaining matches but was unable to turn the tide of poor results and ultimately the writing was already on the wall. 

Life in the Championship was going to be a different proposition entirely from the previous years in the top league in the country. The club appointed their first foreign manager by giving Norwegian Stale Solbakken the task of guiding them straight back out of the division. He had been in charge of Danish side Copenhagen for five successful years and although a disappointing stint at FC Koln in Germany ended in relegation, his reputation had already alerted Wolves chairman Steve Morgan.

Six months after beginning his English adventure he was sacked. Things started well enough, with six wins from the first ten games, and they were comfortably sitting in 3rd place in the table. Everything looked in place for the desired promotion attempt at the start of October, although this may have led to complacency to settle in. The subsequent months were disastrous with only 3 points picked up from a possible 27; the club slid down to 18th and they never recovered from this slump. By the time of his dismissal his record at the club was poor, with only 10 wins in 30 matches, and they once again found themselves hovering around the danger zone. 

48 hours after relieving Solbakken of his duties, Dean Saunders was the man entrusted with ensuring survival. However, there was little difference made and his record is actually worse than his predecessor, with only a 25% win rate. What has been so surprising about the club’s demise is that they still have some established players in their ranks, who should not have struggled so much at a lower level of football. Whether they were mentally prepared for the weekly battles that occur in the division is another question and it is often quoted that a side needs fierce determination as well as talent to get out of the most competitive league in Europe. Too many seemed lacking in this quality when they were going through a difficult period and now they have paid the price.

Understandably the finger has been pointed at the players, with accusations that too many were just going through the motions every week, collecting their huge pay packets and not really caring whether the team won or lost. Kevin Doyle, Roger Johnson, Sylvain Ebanks Blake and other high profile characters are unlikely to remain to fight it out in League One, and the wage bill will have to be significantly reduced so as not to leave the club in a perilous financial position. If Dean Saunders is allowed the time to demonstrate his ability as a coach then hopefully he can get rid of some of the dead wood at the club, get everyone working hard towards the same objective and lead them back to where they belong.

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