History repeating

While most Wolves fans will remember ‘that’ infamous ‘We will not do an Albion’ promise in 2010, many might forget that Jez Moxey also said:

Moxey

“In 2003-04, we were clearly not well equipped to deal with the challenges. We were promoted through the play-offs and we were five or six weeks behind the other teams.”

Quite how many weeks we will be behind teams in League One once Moxey eventually decides upon Dean Saunders’ successor is anyone’s guess?

It’s fair to assume that an indulgent sun tan from Jez’s ludicrously timed holiday will have faded by the time an announcement is made, up to a month after the play-offs ended.

Three weeks have passed since Saunders was sacked and the club today say they’re only half way through the process, ahead of an August 3 Big Kick-Off.

Taking Jez Moxey’s words on face value – which is not necessarily advisable – we will make an appointment around 40 days before the new season starts.

How long does the new man get to assess our leaden footed failures? How long to bring his own players in?

Who buys players in the meantime? Who decides who goes? Who will want to come under such circumstances? Will Thelwell impersonate Connor with a Frank Nouble signing between then and now?

Jez Moxey is at pains to ‘get this one right’ but contrives to make the same glaring error that has blighted his sorry reign for so long…

…Namely, that he using this entire process as a vehicle to cover his own backside in the event of the club getting it wrong again, using our half-cocked previous managerial debacles as some sort of yardstick to be grateful for today.

In this whole sorry goose chase, one thing has become clear and after 22 days and it isn’t even a manager to fill the hotseat.

Once this charade has finally run its course, the miserable conclusion to draw will be the very one we that were promised would never happen again.

No root and branch overhaul, no inquest and no heads to roll for two years of history defining, record breaking incompetence.

It’s shameful enough that redundancies are planned to remove the real DNA from the club to justify the buffoonery that made it a haemorrhaging laughing stock in the first place.

It’s worse still to let the very perpetrator concoct his own timescales and make his own appointment which, in the wonderful world of Wolves, will not even make a blind bit of difference anyway.

Where did it all go wrong?

“Nothing is by chance,” said our chief executive Jez Moxey on September 5 2011. “You get what you put in in life generally.”

Jez and Steve

With seven points from the first three games of last season, he continued.

“Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve, or what you put in. But when you get an opportunity and this is a horrible phrase: ‘when preparation meets opportunity’ – or whichever way it is! – you get this offspring called good fortune, or good luck.

“And we believe about making your own good fortune or luck in life.”

A spectacular nosedive of 35 league positions since the snake oil seeped owes nothing to luck, presumably.

From another Jez Moxey pledge that ‘we can get in the top three, four or five clubs where we can compete in Europe’ (E&S March 15 2011) to a New Year message that ‘we should all expect better’ in the Npower Championship.

You don’t say!

Another thing Moxey – or the deafeningly quiet Steve Morgan – fails to say is how we got into this extraordinary mess in such a short space of time.

I’ve tried to help, by pinpointing six glaring opportunities which sadly lacked the requisite levels of preparation.

1. Alan Curbishley and the half-baked bun fight. (February 2012)

The less said about our attempts to replace Mick the better. There was an opportunity, but no preparation, being as we failed to lure Curbishley on two separate occasions. Quite what the terms broke down over will never be known for sure, but alarm bells rang when the Londoner allegedly said that his vision for the club didn’t match the owner’s. What vision would that be exactly Steve?

The upshot: Steve Bruce dawdling, Walter Smith dalliance and embarrassment of national laughing stock proportions. Oh, and Terry Connor.

2. Morgan’s missing treasure chest (May 2012)

During our end of season dinner in May 2012, Steve Morgan said: “The one thing about Wolves is that we’re in great financial health and we will have a very good treasure chest when it comes to the playing side.

“There will be changes – some players will come, some players will go. We are more committed than ever.”

A month or so after uttering these words, we sold our three best players for something around £28million to add to the treasure chest.

We gave Solbakken around £10 million to a) replace our only talented players in Jarvis, Fletcher and Kightly and b) improve what we already had.

The upshot: A treasure chest that only Frank McAvennie could ever believe in and an unwanted maths lesson: Minimal investment + proven failures = disaster.

3. Director of football debacle. (May 2012)

Upon the position that casts more longing gazes down the A41 than a 5-1 thrashing, Steve Morgan said the following:

“Stale understands we may well be bringing in a football development director but we felt it wrong to make an appointment at the same time as the manager.

“But the director of football is something that’s still very much on our mind and it’s a system he’s used to working with.

“We’ve got two or three people in mind for the post. We don’t rush into making a decision.”

At least Morgan got the last bit right, as he really didn’t rush into a decision, embarking on U-turn instead.

The upshot: Solbakken forced to work with Terry Connor for the opening handful of fixtures, with Lange and Weiser arriving ad hoc, in June and October respectively. Head of recruitment and football development roles are not filled until the New Year.

4. Pedro Geromel and Vadim Demidov cold shoulders (July 2012)

Stale Solbakken identified two centre backs to finally rectify a shambolic defence.

Pedro Geromel chose Mallorca, despite Stale stating at the time: “Those clubs from Spain are having financial troubles. Maybe it’s a chance for us to step up and do it.”

We didn’t do it.

Next up Vadim Demidov, who flew to England after a deal was agreed with Sociedad.

“It’s not as clear-cut as some people would like it to be,” said Jez Moxey.

Clearly, as he went to Frankfurt.

The upshot: Georg Margrietter and Solbakken lumped with a defence which we knew was substandard. (52 goals against in the Championship and we still play three of them today!)

5. Adlene Guedioura signs for Forest (July 2012)

And not for the reason I rated him so highly and he scored a 30 yard screamer past us.

The first training session Stale Solbakken took as manager was the first day he was undermined by Jez Moxey.

“The manager makes the decisions on the buying and selling of players,” said Jez Moxey.

Clearly not, when Solbakken said he was sold without ever speaking to Adlene either way.

Whether Guedioura was a world beater or otherwise mattered little. The manager was forced to take responsibility for a transfer, which – according to those inside Molineux – had nothing to do with football.

The upshot: Our new manager is unfairly associated with an increasingly irrational decision which – despite Moxey’s claims – was not made on footballing grounds.

6. Blackburn 0 Wolves 1 (October 2012)

A victory that could have been seminal goes down as a mere flash in the pan.

Deploying a 4-5-1 system for the one and only time this season, Wolves stifle their opponents and break away to win, featuring a more advanced Doumbia and a holding pair of Davis and Henry.

What happened next? The system is scrapped and we win 3 out of 16 games thereafter. The first genuine question marks raised over our seemingly sensible manager.

The upshot: The first signs of genuine incompetence by Stale Solbakken, as he persists with the very formation that got Mick McCarthy the sack.

Quite what 2013 brings us is unsure, but judging on the last 18 months, an ‘offspring of good fortune’ is unlikely.

Some things never change

An unfathomable cheap signing, a decline on a player’s wage and the sale of a World Cup midfielder before he’s had the chance to speak to his new manager…

Sold without a single chance to impress? Hilarious!

…Just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water.

Unconditionally accepting a West Ham reject who Stale Solbakken has not yet uttered a word about is one thing.

Refusing to back Stale Solbakken on his number one defensive target Vadim Demidov is another.

But to flog the only midfielder on our books capable of a player-of-the-season accolade – and two goal of the season awards for separate clubs – in the space of a dozen games?

And all that before Stale Solbakken has even had the chance to say hello to him – let alone see him on a DVD.

If the Norwegian’s temper tantrum with Pep Guardiola is anything to go by, you’d imagine he might be a bit peeved off right now.

With our local newspaper’s steadfast refusal to engage in the profession of journalism, it is left to us fans to speculate about the real motives that fester behind the corridors of Waterloo Road.

Jez and Steve vowed we’d never make the mistakes of 2010/11 in 2011/12.

Jez and Steve then promised to learn their lessons from 2011/12 in 2012/13 (with a director of football in place) and now they’re frantically undermining their new manager before he’s had the chance to go all progressive on us.

Selling Adlene Guedioura, without the Algerian ever getting the chance to impress his new manager proves one of two things.

  1. Our Continental, highly respected, multiple trophy winning manager is in fact fickle and doesn’t value his own opinion
  2. Our chief executive is again working towards a bonus with another asset stripping exercise

In the absence of any in-depth knowledge on the former and a whole heap of miserable experience with the latter, I know which one I’ll opt for.

Despite all the evidence pointing to the opposite, Adlene Guedioura might turn out to be a failure at  Forest.

Frank Nouble could come in and bang in 15 goals in a 2012 ode to Big Chris.

And the lad from Sociedad could have turned out to be Norway’s answer to Serge Romano.

In a notion seemingly exclusive for the one Black Country club bereft of any footballing knowledge, it actually doesn’t matter.

Because if a logical footballing proposition came and slapped Jez Moxey around his numerous flabby chins, he wouldn’t have the first idea what it would look like.

Time to get drunk?

I’m not sure what sound would have sickened me more this month…

…The smash of Roger Johnson’s empty whiskey bottle on the floor, or Jez Moxey’s subsequent interview on talkSPORT, where supporters were treated like the alcoholics for daring to aspire for better.

With this season’s prospects already entering the last chance saloon, we could have done without our skipper swigging back the booze with more gusto than a man marking exercise.

But what really rubbed my face in the slop bucket was our chief executive’s marginally less uncouth attempt to marginalise the stone cold sober Wolves fans still clinging on to the notion of ‘aspiration.’

While taking great glee in using Porstmouth and Rangers as a yardstick upon how football clubs should not be run, Jez was quicker than Junior Hoillet in dispatching a chance to tell us to like our lot, or lump it.

The man who plans for every eventuality

To presume we are all intoxicated enough to advocate going bankrupt for some light relief is insulting enough.

But not nearly as insulting as slapping his own back by saying he ‘plans for every eventuality at the club’, only to admit this week that he’s still learning his lessons.

The snake oil salesman would like to think that he has got more things right than wrong in his time at the club, apparently.

Presumably his £3.5 million Premier League war chest to David Jones in 2003 was one of them, at the same time he himself was awarded a £2.1 million bonus?

Perhaps I should sit starry eyed at the great man’s superior business acumen like Alan Brazil and Ronnie Irani did on talkSPORT the other week, and thank my lucky stars his name is not Peter Ridsdale.

I possibly could, if he hadn’t said in 2009: “If you look at West Brom, maybe they’re not paying enough to their players or getting the right quality in.

“Having been there and spoken to people in the Premier League, it’s fair to say money is the be-all and end-all. So you’ve got to be competitive.”

Hard to forget quotes like that when our same CEO told Craig Gardner, Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye’s agents to find their clients other clubs instead of ours this season – for demanding wages we wouldn’t match.

The same man who gloated that ‘league placings correlate to wage bills.’

The same superior businessman who confirmed that Jack Hayward wrote off £40 million debt as a goodwill gesture when leaving the club – much of which accrued under his watch.

Throw in a farcical managerial search that would not result in a novice, an abortion of a stadium redevelopment – the first stand signed off three days before last season’s Survival Sunday – and an asset stripping of our threadbare squad (anyone see Guedioura last night?) and I’d argue that Jez Moxey barely gets a single thing right, let alone wrong.

Maybe I should just meekly surrender to the great man’s contempt and wait for the next spoonful of spin when his next programme notes hit the shelves.

Or maybe I should just order what Roger Johnson’s been on and become the pisshead that our CEO obviously thinks I am.

Fans’ Parliament – The truth?

Last Wednesday’s Fan’s Parliament meeting – that the Express & Star was not allowed to attend – has reputedly thrown up some staggering comments from Jez Moxey, as claimed by one stunned member to contact Wolves Blog.

While the claims can not be taken as fact, the member – who wishes to remain anonymous – told us that on Wednesday November 16, Jez Moxey told the audience:

  • Stoke City fans are better than Wolves fans
  • “Newsflash. You are fickle!” quote to fans in the room
  • He would pull the plug on phase two of the Molineux redevelopment if it were up to him, stating: “Having seen it now, I don’t actually think it looks that bad.”

The final point contradicted a quote Jez Moxey made at a February Fans’ Parliament meeting, where he stated: “Molineux would look awful if we didn’t at least go ahead with phase two.”

The member also claimed that Jez Moxey said that £17.50 for the League Cup game against Manchester City proved that lowering prices did not work, despite the game being on TV and £2.50 more than WBA charged for a Premier League fixture against Bolton Saturday which attracted 26,221.

'Newsflash: You are fickle!' The alleged thoughts of Jez Moxey

The member’s notes of the Fans’ Parliament meeting are below:

The point of it was to discuss ticket prices for next season and there does seem a willingness on the club’s part to make some concessions in order to address falling crowds. There was a strong case made for bringing the price for new season tickets down to the same prices as current early bird renewals so as not to be prohibitive for new fans.

There was also a willingness on part of season ticket holders to accept dirt cheap pricing for matchday tickets on a one-off basis for the Norwich home game on a Tuesday night in order to fill the ground.

Moxey then claimed that it was a misunderstanding that if you halve prices then you double crowds, by arguing that we slashed prices for the Man City game and look what happened.

I couldn’t believe this. Moxey was claiming that by charging £17.50 for Man City IN THE LEAGUE CUP and only getting 12,000 this proved that reducing prices didn’t work. I thought he was joking and it was a bit scary that he was serious.

Things went downhill fast when we got onto the topic of the fans chants during the Swansea game and the treatment of Henry vs QPR. Some fans there were hoping to hear that the club weren’t totally satisfied with the way the problem was dealt with by the club: Johnson calling fans a disgrace, McCarthy labelling fans as mindless idiots and O’Hara calling supporters fickle, for example.

What followed was pretty shocking. Moxey got quite animated – at one point loudly exclaiming: “Newsflash, You. Are. Fickle!”

He defended Johnson’s sentiments and told fans they were too thin-skinned and liked dishing it out but couldn’t take it. He also told an anecdote from a friend of his claiming Stoke fans were far better than Wolves fans and he couldn’t imagine any other club treating its staff in such a way. The implication was obviously that he agreed with this friend.

It was pretty hard to take. While there are flaws in the argument – Stoke have been booed at HT and FT in recent games for example – many fans do agree he has a point. What really worried me though was that he didn’t even seem to get the point that some people were making, namely that there’s a difference between being entitled to have a pop back at the fans and it being a constructive thing to do. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

All this soured the mood from my point of view and the evening ended on an even more depressing note. Moxey revealed that expansion plans are in the balance and left us under the impression that if it is up to him he would pull the plug on phase two of the rebuild (the Steve Bull Stand) and leave the ground as it is.

He again cited the recent ECJ ruling about pubs showing games and also noted that attendance was down to 88% of capacity.

Although there are sound reasons for not going ahead with the rebuild, this was a particularly staggering announcement for those of us on the parliament who have attended meetings over the past two years hearing all about this huge project – presumably a strategic, long-term investment for the club – that was now possibly being scrapped with little explanation.

Somebody pointed out that in February 2011 Moxey had stated that “Molineux would look awful if we didn’t at least go ahead with phase two.” In response to this, Moxey simply said that “having seen it now, I don’t think it actually looks that bad.”

Tim Nash, Wolves correspondent at the Express & Star, has confirmed that the paper was not allowed in to report on this parliament meeting. However, this is common practice and not exclusive to this meeting alone.

Wolves’ official website states that ‘David Instone, respected local journalist, will attend each meeting of the Fans’ Parliament to take minutes and prepare an official review of the session. This will be published under the ‘Fans’ Parliament’ section of wolves.co.uk

David Instone was not present at the meeting on November 16.

Marginalised

Articulating how it feels to be a Wolves fan right now was supposed to be the hardest blog to write of all, until a political editor of a Sunday broadsheet unwittingly did it for me.

Her article about ‘How Cameron is out of touch with struggling middle classes’ wasn’t meant to talk directly to a Wolves fan, but more an ‘empty aspirational generation.’

She wrote: “Middle class families are not rich enough to be the Government’s friends, nor poor enough to merit their pity.”

Me as a mascot. With a captain who actually scored from 2 yards at the Hawthorns. Who never called me fickle.

I make no apologies for hijacking this sentence and applying it 100 per cent to how I currently feel as a desperately sad Wolves fan.

I don’t spit out my pie at Mick from the South Bank, nor do I shake a prawn sandwich from an executive box.

I sit next to Dad, alongside Tel, and behind the old boys in row P and we shake hands before each game and pipe up for an unashamedly tuneless version of silver lining.

We take it in turns to get the half time coffees in. We encourage, we cajole and we berate every referee as if they actually have an agenda against our beloved side. We quietly mutter exasperation at one or two players too, if truth be told.

To quote Kirsty Buchanan’s piece in the Sunday Express: “We are not hustlers, nimbies or home hoarders, just law abiding hard workers looking for a level playing field.”

The first game my Dad took me to was at home to Simod Cup holders Reading on September 3rd 1988.

My last one, on Saturday, reduced my little boy to tears as he hated Daddy’s ‘wuulfs’ losing 2-0.

Yet the club holds me in contempt and I’m treated like a pariah.

Our manager tells me to f**k off, our captain calls me fickle and our chief executive tells me to cough up or forget a stadium rebuild.

West Brom fans just prefer to call me a loser. Again.

There is no middle ground supporting Wolves right now, only a stigma that I’m responsible for that fabled ‘Molineux Factor’ for daring to question what the hell is going on.

Despite ploughing thousands of money I’ve never had into the club I’m hopelessly in love with and only ever been guilty of encouraging the lads, I have never been more despised.

If I passed Mick in the street wearing my signed Bully Nutmeg shirt, Mick would cross the road.

If I met Jez Moxey in Penn Bowling Club, he’d tell me to get the hell out and support the team properly.

And if I got a tweet from Roger Johnson or Jamie O’Hara, it would feature a boo-boy hashtag.

Maybe I should just embrace the brush I’m being tarred with.

Or maybe the club should read Kirsty Buchanan’s article and take a bloody long look in the mirror instead of telling me to.

After all, ‘creating a fairer society is not just about pursuing the feckless. It is also about supporting the army of the ordinary.’

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