Past Cases Of Eve-Of-Season Upheaval
Much though it may feel as though Wolves are breaking unwanted new ground with their change of head coach so close to the season’s start, they have been this way before.
Ok, there definitely wasn’t the same sense of loss when Glenn Hoddle departed as when the curtain was finally drawn two nights ago on the Julen Lopetegui era. Nor, to a lesser extent, when Kenny Jackett left.
But both of their replacements, Mick McCarthy and Walter Zenga, were appointed deep into the summer break – with highly contrasting results.
It was on July 21 in 2006 that McCarthy, who had not long been dispensed with as Sunderland boss, was installed at Molineux, famously and quickly pointing out that the initials on his tracksuit stood for his name, not Merlin The Magician.
That was his public reaction as he assessed the threadbare squad he had inherited and who were due to go into action for the first time in a Championship game at Plymouth 15 days later.
As we now know, time shortages or not, the former Republic of Ireland boss made a wonderful job of getting the club up and running again as a force near the top of the table and won four of his first six League games in charge in sewing the seeds for a surprise challenge that led to a place in the play-offs.
The same could not be said, sadly, of Zenga almost exactly ten years later. He was installed on the Saturday before the 2016-17 campaign kicked off, Jackett having been sacked the previous day.
All this occurred during the opening days of the Fosun era and the race against time to bed in the replacement was reflected in a chaotic start to the first Championship game, at Rotherham.
Fortunes improved with the salvaging of a point – but not for long. The experienced former Italian international was shown the door in the autumn thanks to a record of four wins, four draws and six defeats from his opening 14 League fixtures.
We now wish Gary O’Neil all the very best for his tenure and make one final observation on this subject for now.
The new incumbent is Wolves’ first English appointee in the permanent main role since Hoddle, given that Watford-born Jackett pinned himself to the Welsh mast.
It’s interesting to reflect that Hoddle was also one of six consecutive Molineux bosses before McCarthy to have been appointed during a season rather than in the summer. The others were Dave Jones, Colin Lee, Mark McGhee, Graham Taylor and Graham Turner.