New Dawn Brings A Meeting Of Minds
A Wolves Enclave By The Sea
Remember those two global and continental triumphs achieved by England age-group teams four years ago?
Remember how they lifted our spirits hugely and raised hopes of success for the senior team in a tournament such as the one in which Gareth Southgate’s side are aiming for a quarter-final place now?
It is worth reminding ourselves here that the figures at the helm for those successes were two former Wolves midfielders – men who have recently learned that their new boss back on the club scene is the son of a popular Molineux figure of the past.
Paul Simpson was manager of the England team who won the Under-20s World Cup in South Korea in 2017 and Keith Downing led the country to glory in the European Under-19 Championship in Georgia later in the same year. What a double that was, with recognition on stage at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards night to boot!
Now the duo, whose playing careers at Wolves missed out on overlapping by four and a half years, are preparing for life under a new chief executive at Bristol City, Bobby Gould’s son, Richard.
The Sandhust-trained one-time military man previously worked as commercial director at Ashton Gate for four years before departing for a decade and a half in cricket administration, initially at Somerset and then as chief executive with Surrey.
He has this summer been announced, though, as the new man in charge of the Championship club, who started last season brilliantly after Downing and Simpson were chosen as right-hand men to Dean Holden.
Six victories from the first seven games in all competitions hoisted them to the top of the table and three more straight wins followed at the start of November.
But a downturn in results had the storm clouds building and Holden – the long-time assistant to Lee Johnson at Ashton Gate – was sacked in mid-February following a run of six straight defeats.
Downing and Simpson were placed in interim charge before Nigel Pearson was appointed, the club finishing a disappointing 19th in the table, albeit well above the danger line.
And the trio will be working in partnership in the coming season after the ex-Leicester boss was impressed with the backroom staff he inherited.
Downing was appointed England under-20 head coach in July 2015 and took up the same role with the under-19s just over a year later.
He went to the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and reported back to Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland on future England opponents.
*Richard Gould’s brother, Jonathan, was in the Scotland squad as stand-by keeper the last time they qualified before this for the finals of a major tournament – the World Cup in France in 1998.