Chris Hughton did a great job with Newcastle and has performed well at Birmingham City under difficult circumstances. I'd love him at Wolves, but will take Curbs as a second option...
The wave of nausea that hit me at roughly 3.20pm on Sunday 12th February was overpowering – hardly a surprise given that my team, Wolverhampton Wanderers had been completely outclassed in front of the Molineux masses by local rivals West Brom. As butcherings go, it was the worst since Sweeney Todd terrorised Fleet Street.
Albion fans celebrated as if they’d just won the EuroMillions, while Wolves supporters sensing blood poured scorn on the players and screamed for the manager’s head. That result was the final straw for the gaffer, Mick McCarthy, who was sacked the following morning after a disastrous run of results culminating in the humiliating home defeat to the Baggies.
The question is where do we go from here? Most fans were relieved to see the back of Mick, a top bloke no doubt, but nowhere near good enough to manage in the Premier League. But why wait until mid-February with just 13 games left to relieve him of his duties? He should’ve gone at the end of last season when he barely kept us up, or this Christmas at the latest to give his successor time to make an impact. If, as I suggested last season, Sam Allardyce had arrived midway through the 2010-11 campaign I doubt we’d be in this mess.
As it stands, Wolves will be mixing it in the Championship next season unless we bring in someone who can transform us into a side capable of passing the ball, breaking down defences and scoring goals. We also need someone who can shore up a defence that has shipped 11 goals in the last four home games.
But the major concern for fans is that we’ve left it too late to appoint the right man. Martin O’Neill and Mark Hughes have gone to Sunderland and QPR respectively (not that either would join Wolves), while Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert are probably already planning for Premier League football next season after taking to the top flight like ducks to water.
Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert are probably already planning for Premier League football next season after taking to the top flight like ducks to water
That leaves us with a list of names that fails to inspire. Unless Fabio Capello fancies swapping the cultural surrounds of Milan for Wolverhampton, we might be forced to make do with Neil Warnock or Steve Bruce. The first is, much like Mick McCarthy, a Championship manager at best, while Brucey (or Mr Potato Head, as he was affectionately known to Aston Villa fans during his time in charge of second city rivals, Birmingham City) failed miserably at Sunderland, despite spending millions of pounds.
Among the other candidates on offer, we could go for Sean O’Driscoll – born and bred in Wolverhampton and now working as a coach with Nottingham Forest after being sacked by Doncaster – or Paul Ince, who looked completely out of his depth at Blackburn Rovers a few seasons back. I’d rather have Mick McCarthy then either of them.
Other names to be bandied around include Billy Davies, Sven Goran Eriksson, and even Wolves legend Steve Bull. Now I love Bully, but anyone seriously thinking he could do a job based on his passion for and loyalty to the club should be locked away in a dark cell for all eternity. Or they should at least be pelted with rotten vegetable while forced to parade around Wolverhampton centre city in a West Brom shirt.
If I had my way, I’d be moving heaven and earth to bring in Chris Hughton, who has done a brilliant job at Birmingham City. Most supporters thought Newcastle would go the same way as Leeds United and struggle in the lower depths of the football league following the Magpies’ relegation from the top flight in 2009. But despite all the background shenanigans and boardroom troubles, Hughton not only secured promotion straight back to the premier League, but also stablised the club (albeit for a brief time) before getting unceremoniously dumped by the club.
Hughton has worked similar miracles at Birmingham City, a club beset by financial difficulties and controversy surrounding owner Hong Kong-based owner Carson Yeung. On the playing side, Birmingham may have lost 15 players since suffering relegation last season, but they’re still looking a decent bet for promotion – not bad for a side that’s played several Europa league games and reached the fifth round of the FA Cup.
But realistically, it’s unlikely Hughton would leave a club on the up to try and resurrect a Wolves side with just 13 games to secure Premier League survival. So all eyes turn to Alan Curbishley, one of the early favourites for the job. He clearly knows his way around the Premier League, having managed both Charlton and West Ham in the top flight, and he’s no stranger to helping clubs avoid relegation. Curbishley is also used to working on a limited budget, one of the constraints the new manager will have to accept.
The only concern is whether he’s still in touch with the Premier League, having been out of management since 2008. But based on the list of available candidates, Curbishley certainly wouldn’t be a disastrous appointment… providing we avoid further embarrassments in our remaining fixtures.
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