Archives for July 2016

Kenny Jackett sacked

It will surprise nobody to hear I’m disappointed Kenny Jackett has been relieved of his duties.

Not only because I believe in his abilities as a coach, but more so because I thought we needed him in the immediate.

With such sweeping revolution elsewhere his steady hand would have been an asset in at least guiding us through a turbulent interim period.

As it is we dive into the unknown, possibly with a coach with little to no Championship experience. And we all know how that ended last time.

But I don’t want to be the voice of doom in what are strange and exciting times, so perhaps this represents another big step towards something bigger and better?

Either way, the first managerial appointment of the Fosun era will have to work fast and without the benefit of a pre season to communicate his ideas.

It’s a tough ask.

Naturally the immediate favourites consist of domestic coaches currently out of work and names within Jorge Mendes’ phone book.

Dreamers would probably prefer an Andres Villas Boas to cement our position as Championship big hitters, whereas realists probably lean more towards Steve Bruce, a proven winner at this level.

Personally, I’m at a loss to even venture an opinion on where we go from here so will happily just come along for the ride.

More to follow on Kenny’s tenure in due course.

Press conference takeaways

The press conference officially unveiling Fosun Group as the new owners of the club has just finished and these are the important takeaways and my initial reactions.

Jeff Shi

The manager

Kenny Jackett is staying, in the immediate at least. Jeff Shi said he’d met with him and they shared opinions on where the team needed strengthening.

Shi also admitted he knows Julen Lopetegui and the general vibe I get suggests he would have been manager had Spain not entered the equation.

New players & transfer funds

Jeff Shi said the squad needed somewhere between 5 and 8 new players adding before the end of the transfer window.

He also described their capacity to invest as ‘huge’ and could be more than the figures quoted by Steve Morgan (£20-£30 million) in his exit statement. But it must be invested wisely.

Shi added everything exists for the club to be successful and they just had to buy better players, so I’m sure that’s music to the ears of Wolves supporters.

Jorge Mendes was described as a friend and it was confirmed he will be one of the agents the club use as part of their recruitment. This suggests some of the links to Benfica players may not have been unfounded. He even intimated we may get some of their players.

Stadium

Redeveloping the stadium isn’t on the immediate agenda. Shi said the players and the team are the most important thing. Music to my ears.

Shi did say it might be something they revisit. I suppose in the immediate there’s likely little commercial value to add by increasing capacity when we can’t fill the stadium we’ve got.

Promotion

‘As soon as possible’ was the answer, which could obviously be interpreted in a number of ways, but is hopefully a statement of intent.

The board

Jez Moxey is leaving and Shi did everything he could to convince him to stay. Another CEO will be appointed in time to run the ‘day-to-day’.

Shi would like to be chairman but that is to be decided and confirmed by the Fosun Group.

He openly admitted he was still learning about football, but seemed incredibly keen to be involved so I would expect him to continue being the face of the owners.

Traditions

Shi stated the club’s colours and logo are unique and Wolves already have a fanbase in China. Good marketing possibilities in the Far East and they want to promote the club more in this part of the world. Doesn’t sound like we’ll be doing a Cardiff, in the short term anyway.

Conclusions

Jeff Shi made all the right noises in his first outing.

Many will be disappointed to hear that Kenny Jackett is staying but there’s something to be said for retaining some continuity, no?

My personal feeling is Jackett was sold down the river last season and never backed to bring in the requisite quality of player. Hopefully that will now change and he can be judged fairly.

There are two important questions we’ll get answers to before the end of August.

  1. How ambitious will the club now be in terms of the targets they pursue?
  2. What calibre of player can Wolves actually attract, even with greater resources?

Bodies will arrive before the window shuts and there will be a feeling among supporters that they could be anyone. Expectations are high. It would be nice to see at least one marquee, ‘statement of intent’ addition.

As I write this a new quote has surfaced of Shi stating, ‘I’m hoping to give the fans some surprises’ regarding transfers and that is sure to ratchet up excitement further.

The suggested involvement of Jorge Mendes and the links to Benfica are particularly exciting. Mendes is connected and could help us identify and attract better players. That could give us an edge over Championship rivals.

We didn’t learn a great deal today that we didn’t already know or suspect. But to hear directly from Shi was encouraging.

But we’re all tired of words now. We need to see action. A fun month ahead.

Interview

 

Good riddance

News of Steve Morgan’s departure appears to have been greeted with more gushing platitudes and watery eyes than a Pride of Britain highlight reel.

Morgan

Bad enough we’re told ‘supporters should be forever grateful’1, even worse that history is now being rewritten to portray our ex-owner as ‘doing Wolves proud.’2

Steve Morgan was an imposter. A flaky, fly-by-night chairman whose number one, unshakable priority should have been the fortunes of the club he was privileged to have been given for a tenner.

It never was. In his ‘to-do-list’, making Wolves’ football team the very best that it could possibly be was probably scribbled in pencil at the bottom of a Post-It note somewhere, with ‘Compton Park’, ‘land acquisition’ and ‘pointless new stand’ etched in permanent marker pen above.

He sure talked a good game, uttering the following words on a film in the Wolves Museum: “The things that you decide steer the destiny of the club.”

But his decisions regarding the improvement of us as a footballing outfit were absolutely appalling. Indeed, his name was still above the door when Jez Moxey commissioned the ex-CEO of Stockport County to tell us that success was an unreasonable concept.

 

The lifelong Liverpool fan decided to down tools at the very moment a handful of fans allegedly gave him some stick in a Preston North End car park and left us high and dry, the legacy of which still reeks as we contemplate a new season with the most pathetic, threadbare squad in living memory.

Before that, our wage bill as a percentage of turnover was so restrictive that we couldn’t compete (literally in most fixtures) in the Premier League, despite a three minute warning against Blackburn Rovers in 2011 that his business model was flawed.

(I won’t even mention the timing of the McCarthy sacking in 2012, the Connor appointment thereafter or the abomination that followed in Dean Saunders – nor a sackful of old coals that I daren’t rake over again for the sake of my sanity.)

That he left us on a sound financial footing was precisely because he imposed a strict wage cap on the club in the first place, oversaw the sales of Afobe, Stearman and co and used parachute payments (secured by Mick McCarthy who he declined to thank in his open letter) to finance the running of the club.

He never once speculated (save for the £30 million that was ringfenced for infrastructure), he acculmulated massively through a cash cow of a development at Compton which no journalist has ever investigated the net value of and he dumbed down expectations to unprecedented proportions.

Scott Dann, Steve Sidwell, Nathanial Clyne, Craig Gardner, Andy Carroll, Shane Long, Yohan Cabaye, Callum Wilson and countless others were all linked during Morgan’s tenure, which will be synonymous with the likes of Eggert Jonsson, Geoffrey Mujangi-Bia, Tommy Rowe and all manner of low maintenance dross that cost peanuts.

Transfer deadline days under Morgan weren’t so much miserable exercises in caution, but blue touch papers to ignite yet more division between a fan base now split as ‘happy clappers’ or ‘pant wetters’, depending on your persuasion.

So many social networking feuds could be traced to our ex-owner, who replaced aspiration with pragmatism and has exited the club a far, far wealthier man than when he arrived.

Forgive me if I’m not forever grateful.

1Tim Spiers ‘That tenner, rants and missed opportunities’ feature, page 62, Express & Star, 22.07.16
2Tim Spiers ‘That tenner, rants and missed opportunities’ feature, page 62, Express & Star, 22.07.16