Wolves fans are suffering right now and they’ve had a hard two or three years. It’s time that changes. Newcastle are top of the league, Birmingham are flying, Steve Bruce is getting Aston Villa in the right direction, and Wolves should be up there. The club needs a lift and the city needs a buzz around the place – I can bring that.
Wolves are incredibly close to my heart for a number of reasons. When I left Middlesbrough in 2002 I intended to give the game up and do my coaching badges. The manager at the time Dave Jones rang me and asked if myself and Denis Irwin would go down and play for them – and I ended up staying for four years! The ground, the atmosphere, the people at the club, the people in the city, everything about Wolves made me happy. I always want them to do well and it disappoints me when I see them struggling like they are now. I want to do something to help them.
There has already been a couple of occasions for me to take over a club I desperately want to manage, but it just hasn’t worked out. Now this could be third time lucky.
Glen Hoddle left the club in July 2006, and I thought that it was the perfect opportunity for me to start my managerial career. I knew the club, I knew the players, I knew the structure, and I knew what was needed. Unfortunately they gave it to Mick McCarthy, and in hindsight it was the right decision. It was a disappointment personally but Mick did an unbelievable job. He was let go by the club in February 2012 with them struggling at the bottom of the Premier League, and I believed this was another chance for me to come in and manage Wolves. The board gave it to Terry O’Connor though who was McCarthy’s assistant previously, and they ended up going down. At that time I felt I was the ideal candidate to keep Wolves up.
There are an incredible amount of teams in the Championship with previous Premier League experience. At the start of the season, there’s probably 14 of the 24 teams who expect to be up there vying for promotion – and Wolves are one of those clubs. That league is the hardest to get out of, and that’s not just a cliché. Every team can beat any other team on their day and that’s why it is such a struggle. But if Wolves have a strategy and bring the right players and the right mentality to the club than there’s no reason why they can’t be up there vying for promotion. This Wolves side went to St James’ Park and beat Newcastle 2-0. They went away to Aston Villa and battered them for the second half. There is no doubt they’re a capable bunch of players, but it takes time to mould a new squad. There’s a lot of good players at Wolves, and plenty of potential.
To not manage in the last two years frustrates me. I had success at Macclesfield and I brought MK Dons up from League Two in 2008. When I took over at Blackpool in early 2013 they were fifth from bottom, but I could see that they had some good players and were a good team. They just needed a little guidance and a little lift. We stayed up that year which was a fantastic achievement. By November that year we were third in the division on the lowest budget and had the best ever start to a league campaign. That’s unbelievable. If we’d pushed forward then and invested in the team we would have made the play-offs at least. The squad only had 13 or 14 senior players, so when injuries and suspensions hit we started losing games. I got a text from the owner while I was at a coaching course saying I was losing my job and it baffled me. We were 13th in the table at the time – look at them now, mid-table in League Two. It just shows what a good job we did at the club.
When a position comes available with a team like Wolves it gets you excited again. I love the game and I feel well prepared to take this leap. I’m seriously hungry for the Wolves job. I had four fantastic years at the club, and have a huge amount of love for the fans. Managing Wolves would be a dream come true.