Date: 25th July 2012 at 10:16am
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A Wolves Fan`s Perspective on the Forthcoming Season

Considering how depressed I was in May, I, like other bloggers on Wolves websites, am feeling remarkably upbeat about the forthcoming season. The reason for this optimism is the new manager, the Norwegian Ståle Solbakken, who, although a totally unexpected appointment, has been universally welcomed by the fans. Arriving with an impressive record, his initial pronouncements have further enhanced his standing. Here was a person, I thought, who could drag the team into the modern world of soccer, a game characterised by pace, movement and athleticism.

Indeed, the manager showed his hand early with the acquisition of the talented young Icelandic striker, Björn Bergmann Sigurdarson, who (admittedly from You Tube clips) seems fast, skilful and deadly in front of goal. Presumably because he has viewed the video nasties that constitute a record of our dismal showing last season, Ståle has emphasized the need for the team to maintain possession, to keep the ball on the ground and to play higher up the pitch. He has also earmarked for remedial treatment another glaring weakness, namely, the inability of defenders, midfielders and strikers to work as units and the associated failure of each element to link effectively with the other two. If he succeeds, we will win more games and play more attractive football.

It is particularly gratifying to note that Ståle shares the fans` poor assessment of our defenders and intends to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, his initial target, the Norwegian international central defender, Vadim Demidov, preferred to sign for Eintracht Frankfurt. The club, like ours, has seen better days but could offer the player more money (so what`s new at Molineux?). He is also looking to solve our left-back problem, with rumours of a bid for Bryan Oviedo, whom Ståle brought to FC Copenhagen in 2010. While other teams are also interested in him, the Solbakken effect might do the trick, as it did with Sigurdarson.

While blogs reveal our impatience with the lack of progress in improving our back line, I believe that the manager`s reputation, especially in northern Europe, will enable him to bring in capable replacements. For the same reason, I cherish the irrational hope that we might be able to hold on to our stars. We don`t have to sell but, as Ståle has pointed out, we would have no option if offered silly money for players like Fletcher and Jarvis. Presumably, that is why we find ourselves in the market for midfielders and strikers.

Another reason why I am happy with the new managerial team, even if the continued employment of Terry Connor causes me palpitations, is the feeling that our young players will now be given a proper chance to prove their worth. Davis has already made the grade and Batth, after a successful loan period at Sheffield Wednesday, could join him in the side. It would save us millions if he replicates that form. Moreover, if need be (and with Jez Moxey holding the purse strings it`s a possibility), I have faith in the manager’s ability to extract better performances from the many under-achieving members of the current squad (though perhaps not from those beyond redemption). It would be a start if he judged players solely on merit and selected them in their right positions.

In short, while relegation was a miserable experience, it could prove to be the springboard for a more promising future. I, like many other fans, felt that under the previous regime we could expect little more than a constant struggle to avoid relegation from the Premier League. Now, under a young, dynamic manager we have the opportunity to regroup, rectify the faults and move forward, allowing us not only to achieve promotion in the short-term but thereafter to improve our fortunes in the top flight. A 5-1 victory over Bray Wanderers last Saturday was an excellent start and a similar walloping of Walsall this weekend would be even better. It`s an exciting time to be a Wolves fan.

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