A Question Of Time
Will There Ever Be A Better Wolves Manager Than Cullis
By Steven Chowdry
There is growing talk among the Molineux faithful about the best manager Wolves have ever had.
Naturally, these discussions come up every time a Wolverhampton manager is blazing the trail, with the older generation sticking firmly to the heroes of yesteryear while younger supporters can’t look beyond the present incumbent.
In other words, a season ticket holder with decades of loyalty and attendance debates the point with a whipper-snapper who spends his time making YouTube videos that carefully explain why Nuno Espirito Santo is the greatest tactician to ever grace the Molineux dug-out.
Most of these disagreements seem to take place on Twitter and sometimes end abruptly if one party makes reference to the other’s age by either calling them a boomer or a millennial.
Nineteen years ago last week, one of the most successful managers the English game has ever known, Stan Cullis, died aged 84.
He guided Wolves to three League titles and two FA Cups as well as pioneering European floodlit friendlies in which Wolves beat Honved and other foreign powers including the great Real Madrid.
Comparing a manager of the modern day with one of the past is not a custom that is exclusive to Wolves.
Manchester United fans debate over the two knights and whether Matt Busby was better than Sir Alex Ferguson. And you wouldn’t have to delve too deeply to see how the Liverpool masses compare Bob Paisley and Jurgen Klopp.
Sky Sports took it one step further by recently discussing the greatest English club sides in history and you can imagine the can of worms that opened as fans watched aghast.
There is an on-going dialogue in football about the superiority of the past over the present, or vice versa. You will rarely find an entire fanbase in unison but that doesn’t mean the majority opinion can’t be found.
Despite the brilliance of these present-day revolutionaries in the English game – and in Wolves’ case that is referring to Nuno, a man who currently has the club at a mere 9/1 to reach the Champions League in the football betting – they will never be afforded the time that the managers of yesteryear were given.
That’s why the great Stan Cullis will never be replaced as the best manager in Wolves’ history.
On top of all his playing service and then a season as an assistant, he was given 16 years as manager to build a legacy at the club which resulted in all those titles, Cups and even a Charity Shield or two. Could Nuno do that?
Well, he has emerged as a special talent but he would need to be given an unprecedented amount of time at the wheel (for the modern era at least) to steer Wolves to anything like those former glories.
He has made a brilliant impact by winning the Championship title in 2018, securing a place in Europe and now having the club into the last 16 in Continental competition but that remains somewhere behind Cullis’s achievements.
You can only truly make yourself part of the fabric of a club if you are given time and, these days, everyone knows that is unlikely to happen.
Either the going will become tough and a parting of the ways will follow or everything will go so swimmingly that clubs from the game’s elite will come poaching.
That’s why success-laden legacies are hard to build. Time will always be the greatest weapon in protecting the legacies of the best managers from days gone by.