Life Without Conor

Captain’s Departure A Major Gamble

Conor Coady….a star with England as well as Wolves.

Wolves deeming Conor Coady surplus to requirements? The very thought was unimaginable for much of the last five years.

Now it is reality in the early days of the season and we wait with bated breath to see how things play out after what can only be described as a major gamble from the club.

It was rumoured 12 months ago that Bruno Lage favoured the use of a back four rather than the sweeper system his predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo introduced to magnificent effect virtually on the day he arrived in 2017.

The transition has been a while coming but it’s now here and the hugely admired Liverpudlian, who was understandably not coveted as much as a possible twin centre-half, has left in the blink of an eye.

Yes, Wolves have Max Kilman, Willy Boly, Nathan Collins, Tote Gomes, Leander Dendocker and the little-seen Yerson Mosquera to play as central defenders. They are not short on numbers.

But they are ripping up a blueprint here that has served them brilliantly and they are losing their organiser, spokesman, skipper and ambassador. Conor Coady can play a bit, too.

He will surely go to the World Cup finals in three months’ time – the greater likelihood of first-team football at Everton will see to that – and Wolves’ management will hope their desire for an extra body further up the pitch does not come at the expense of defensive solidity or by curbing the attacking effectiveness of Jonny, Ait-Nouri and Nelson Semedo and others who will now become full-backs rather than wing-backs.

Two other issues come to mind here… allowing the player to return in double-quick time to Merseyside, Wolves will be viewed as helping a club who may be close to them in this season’s Premier League table. And they will have put a smile on the face of their former director of football Kevin Thelwell, who is now in a similar role at Goodison and has his fingerprints all over this transfer.

We hope this turns out to be a wonderful deal for all parties and wish Ruben Neves every success as he picks up the captain’s armband.

But we can’t help wondering whether, if and when the time comes for a new head coach at Molineux, the successful candidate will either feel restricted to sticking with a back four – or going back to a sweeper and wishing he had one Conor David Coady at his disposal. As ever, time will tell.

In the meantime, we reflect on some other highly notable transfers of players who served Wolves and Everton and, in most cases, moved directly from one to the other:

JULY, 1979: Former England international Dave Thomas was a key man at Everton and was credited with helping set up many of Bob Latchford’s goals. At Wolves, who beat Manchester United to his signature, he bombed and couldn’t get out of the place quickly enough.

Andy Gray pictured at Brighton early in a successful Wolves stay that ended with a move to Everton.

NOVEMBER, 1983: League Cup final match-winner Andy Gray departed for a bargain £250,000 and scored the only goal at home to Nottingham Forest on his debut for Everton, for whom he went on to net in an FA Cup final and pick up League Championship and European Cup Winners Cup honours.

JULY, 1990: Mike Stowell headed south after playing only one first-team game for Everton and, having initially come this way on loan in 1989, proceded to appear in more Wolves matches than any other goalkeeper before or since.

NOVEMBER, 1991: Derek Mountfield, like Gray a Goodison hero, joined Wolves on loan from Villa – and then signed a permanent deal that ran until he was released by his former Villa boss Graham Taylor in the summer of 1994.

JUNE, 2006: Joleon Lescott’s Molineux career ended as Everton boss David Moyes took the plunge on a deal worth more than £5m. It seemed like small change when a defender who turns 40 on Monday was sold to Manchester City in 2009 for more than four times the amount.

Thomas Publications