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Stale shown the door

Farewell Ståle

By Tom Bason
January 5 2013

So, that's it. The reign of the first non-British born manager in the history of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club ends in defeat to Luton Town.

Both Steve Morgan and Jez Moxey have had a lot of criticism from the fans, especially in the last few months, but perversely I think they deserve credit for the appointment of Ståle Solbakken. Last summer, it would have been incredibly easy for them to appoint a bog standard British manager, fresh off the managerial merry go round. I'm sure that the likes of Billy Davies and Steve Bruce (who should have been appointed last February) would have gladly taken the Molineux hot seat instead, they gambled on a foreign manager with little experience in English football, save for a six month playing spell at Wimbledon. 

I don't think anyone expected Solbakken to have immediate success; he arrived fresh faced and full of ideas of a possession based, zonal marking style. However, we managed to lose three of the five players I actively wanted us to keep, and were generally left with a squad full of dead wood. A lot has been made of the fact that these players won the league 2008/09, but it shouldn't be forgotten that the majority of them also finished 7th in an insipid season prior to that.

Perhaps a manager whose teams are based on working hard, and playing fast direct football could have got the best out of these players. Someone, perhaps like the manager currently at Ipswich. It wouldn't have had to be Mick McCarthy, and to be honest I'm fairly fed up of McCarthy being mentioned during analyses of Solbakken; Mick's time was up a long time before he was finally sacked. But, he is the type of manager who would be successful in this league. 

And, this for me is the worry. Solbakken was a gamble, but he also brought in a different way of thinking. In theory, he was shaping the entire club, and while it didn't quite work out, it was the right idea. It was clear that Morgan and Moxey wanted the club to be more than a team of battlers, scrapping for every point. They wanted a more progressive manager, dare I say someone with a 'philosophy (again, I hate the word philosophy. I don't understand the difference between a philosophy and a 'lack of plan B'). It didn't work, but the idea was right. 

My fear is that's the end of the progressive Wolves. We go back to the blood and thunder British manager, who knows this league like the back his hand and is 100% geared towards short term results. I don't want someone like Gary Megson or Neil Warnock managing my club - sure, they're about as close as you get to a guarantee of turning around this slump of form and you wouldn't back against anyone like that getting the club promoted. But, it puts us back in exactly the same position as we were under McCarthy. 

As for who I want to replace Stale, I'm at a loss. I look at the list of favourites, and I find myself ruling them all out for one reason or another - would you really want Sean O'Driscoll if he wasn't a Wolves fan? Hasn't Owen Coyle got a weird shaped head?

Maybe the appointment of Ståle was a mistake, but I'd be prepared to say that the biggest mistake was not completely overhauling the playing squad. I can count on two fingers the number of players who are in credit so far this season, and one of them was a Stale signing who a British manager probably wouldn't have signed (obviously Bakary Sako. The other is Carl Ikeme). Every other player in the squad should be lying awake tonight, reflecting that their performances over the past couple of months have cost a good man his job.

For so long under McCarthy (and that's the third, and last time I mention him) we had a team who were limited in ability, but (just about) made up for it with hunger and desire. Well, too many of these players have lost that passion and are finally realising just how poor then are technically. Certainly they're not good enough for the sort of football Stale tried to impose early on in his time at Wolves. I really hope we don't go for a short term quick fix. We're unlikely to go down (the bookies have us as ninth favourite for relegation), so surely we need to write off this season. Bring in a manager who is more Solbakken than McCarthy (bugger), but given him the rest of this season and next summer to develop the team he wants. 

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Stale shown the door
Wolves (IP Logged)
05/01/2013 23:14
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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2013:01:24:21:25:20 by toomb.

Re: Stale shown the door
Ivybridge Wolf (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 00:02
To me it's not about where they were born, it's their ability to adapt and ultimately I don't think Stale adapted - having said that the players ineptitude doesn't help.

I agree Sako has been one of our better players this season but I afraid his performances latterly have been poor. I go on what I have seen second hand and read from a number of recent matches but today he was as poor as anybody on the pitch. A very poor performance.

A progressive philosophy come not only from the manager but also from the board. I believe you are correct to point out that the 2Ms took a calculated gamble which may be viewed as refreshing - though the horse had bolted by that point. Morgans now infamous statement of 'never wanting to go through that again' post Blackburn should have been the turning point for the progressive philisophy change of direction ...... or at the latest by November 2011, but it didn't happen. The board have been found wanting in the progression stakes.

It was the wrong time for Stale. He had a bunch of players who have either willingly or through devoid of ability (or both) have hijacked any plan he may have had. Personally it might well have been a zonal system but to me that was mainly all talk - when I watched them they continued to mainly play 442, whatever way you want to cut it or describe it.

Stale was ultimately not right for Wolves. I was hugely underwhelmed by his appointment, third only in my lifetime after Tommy Docherty and Twaddle but whatever his system, the players have not been up to the task.

I wish him SS luck in the future but am relieved he's gone.

Re: Stale shown the door
Zen Wolf (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 00:28
I agree the club needed a complete shakeup but it was too different from what had gone before.And when it didnt work there was no planb no flexibility , no differnt tactics and worst of all pretty much noone got dropped.THe only players who come out of it with anything are ikeme,sako and maybe Johnson.

Once players heads have gone its very difficult for them to come back - it's teenagers who throw a moody for god sake not grown up professional footballers .THese players will regret their show of petulance -who will touch any of them now .

Re: Stale shown the door
Chumbawanderer (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 11:43
Excellent post. You've summed up my fears for the future of this club exactly.

Re: Stale shown the door
wolverina (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 12:43
What the players haven't worked out (because, let's face it, most of them are as thick as two short planks!)is that they have not done themselves any favours. Anybody following this saga has worked out that they wanted Ståle sacked - and they got their way. So, who wants to try and rule a bunch of petulant adolescents - adolescence has little to do with age! Also, if they had any aspirations (big word for Wolves players - look it up in the dictionary!) career-wise, who in their right mind would want to buy them? Most of them you couldn't give away. Most of them are not fit to wear the shirt and I'd be very happy if they never did again.

Re: Stale shown the door
Dudley Wolf (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 16:11
Tom, you've said it far more eloquently than I could. The current predicament is almost entirely the fault of the players. Fair enough, they may not have taken to Stale as much as Mick, but if I don't like my boss, I still have to get on with my job and do what he asks me to the best of my ability. I wanted Stale out, not because he wasnt up to it, but because if he had had any longer, we could have been in severe risk of going down.

I'm sure he had players he would have liked to have brought in, but now that he can't, I hope more than anything that the club (players, Jez, admin staff and the people that answer the phones) start to realise that it is the fans who pay their wages and that they are going to have to sweat blood for us to fall in love with Wolves again.

I have been very selective with which games I've attended this year, and will continue to be so until I see some commitment from the club to indicate that further commitment from me can be justified. It's looking like it'll be Dean Saunders, who is, if nothing else, a passionate character. I would hope Ince and O'driscoll at least get a chance to put their cards on the table, and we get the best man to sort these players out, not just the first one who's asked.

But this is Wolves, and the idea of doing things the right way seems to have left this club along with SJH. Please prove me wrong Mr Morgan...

Re: Stale shown the door
ernesto hunt (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 17:33
Tom, you promise towards the end that you would not mention McCarthy again - then you go and do it!

This is the conumdrum that faces most Wolves fans. This is the man that took us up (with a little help from SJH) and gave us joy after so many years in the wilderness (apart from the sampler in 2003).

You mention the loss of our entire 'goals' players (Kightly, Jarvis & Fletcher). Everybody concentrates on MM's lack of ability to move us up into the security of mid table Prem.

The big question is how long does it take to do that and how much does it cost (OK, thats two)? Against that are the extra income from a position of safety from Sky and the extra income from increasing attendance and brand sales.

We all go on about what we would do about this and about that - and it's all prefaced by the comment about Morgan opening up the coffers to make it happen.

The real truth about the Premier is that it's a place where only the very best can think of success and this is limited to about 7 clubs. For the rest it is about survival.

Re: Stale shown the door
ernesto hunt (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 17:45
Solbakken may have had the idea of creating ateam that you would have liked to watch - expansive football.

In his interview he carried everyone with him as he waxed lyrical about the way Barca and Spain played and the tremendous success they achieved using possession footy etc etc. Well. he carried everyone apart from me, oh and the ones that count - the players!

Still suffering from a terrible season at the hands of arguably the best set of 20 teams in the world, they had to sit and listen to this drivel. No wonder they shook their heads. This division is the equivalent of the trenches at Cambrai - a fight for you life - and he wanted to talk about Rivendell!

Re: Stale shown the door
ernesto hunt (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 17:58
Talking earlier about the cost of safety in the Prem. and the time taken to achieve it.

Angry is always padding on about betting and this is a cert and that etc. But the one statistic that is enduring is that the bottom three clubs in the wages league are invariably the ones who get relegated.

I say invariably because there are exceptions - Wolves being one of them. For three years we were in the bottom three of wage payers - beating the odds until in that third year it finally caught up with us.

I have posted before on this that the 'transfer fee' only buys you the chance to talk to the player . . . who is only interested in his 'wages'. So it may be that Wolves professed a policy of no limit on 'transfer' fees (if the player is worth it we will bid!) but the important point was that there was a covert 'wage limit' in operation.

This 'old hat' and irrelevant most will say. But is it? If this is the way the club's policy continues to be it will snuff out any success on the field to a higher level. And with the denial of Solbakkens choice for his assistant and had to settle for second best - it seems to still be the policy.

Re: Stale shown the door
an angry wolf (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 18:05
Dont think any credit can be given for an appointment which must rank as one of the worst in the long history of the club costing us at least a year down the drain and wasted millions. It was "out of the box" but to employ a manager with no experience in England having left the last club in complete disarray is madness.

I don't think the squad can be described as "dead wood" either Tom as by your own admission even in an extremely poor season we finished 7th in this division and that was without many of the players we have signed since .Players such Doumbia and sako that Stale spent close to 14 million on have been added to a squad that survived for 3 premiership seasons, even losing Flecther and Jarvis doesnt then = deadwood not at championship level. Those players had we kept them would have meant expectations of automatic promotion, who's to say they wouldn't have got injured? Losing two players doesn't suddenly transform a squad expected to be promoted into 18th in the championship and deadwood.

You state it's the end of "progressive wolves" but the results show it was regressive.If the turgid displays under Stale represent "progression", give me blood, guts and thunder every time.

You state in your last paragraph, "The players are certainly not good enough for the sort of football Stale brought." I take issue with that primarily because I don't believe his "style" would work in this country full stop irrespective of who we signed. I suspect Stale could have spent 50 mllion and we would still be averaging 2 shots a game with hardly any attacks per match. Stale had more than enough ability in the squad to do far better than he did, Morgan and Moxey agreed and he was quite rightly sacked.

Re: Stale shown the door
an angry wolf (IP Logged)
06/01/2013 18:09
Wages and Morgan's financal restrictions have nothing to do with why Stale failed EH. The only criticism of beetroot on this issue would be he hired him in the first place.

Re: Stale shown the door
Hillingdon (IP Logged)
07/01/2013 11:28
Just for the record SS was not first non-English born manager of Wolves. What about Ted Vizard and Mark McGhee?

Re: Stale shown the door
toomb (IP Logged)
07/01/2013 13:17
Just for the record SS was not first non-English born manager of Wolves. What about Ted Vizard and Mark McGhee?

Meant British. Duly changed

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