Ian Ross has recalled the biggest shock of his caretaker management stint at Wolves in 1982 – a face-to-face with Alex Ferguson at a near-deserted Molineux.
Ross, formerly a player coach at the club with special responsibility over the reserves, was in charge for a handful of first-team games following the departure of John Barnwell in the second half of 1981-82.
And it was while he was in temporary control that he witnessed an event that, with a different outcome, might have changed the face of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“I had just stepped out of my office late one afternoon after doing some paperwork, and the place was virtually deserted,” he recalls. “Then who should walk by, in his collar and tie, but Alex Ferguson?
“The chairman was there with him and said: ‘Ian, you haven’t seen this, okay?’ And I carried on with what I was doing.
“We’re both Scots and I knew Alex from various functions, although we never played against each other. But it was obvious he was down at Molineux for an interview for the manager’s job.
“Things were starting to get difficult financially, so it’s my guess that he turned Wolves down rather than the other way around. Who’s to know what might have happened, though, if he had been appointed?”
Ferguson, who has just celebrated 50 years in football and taken holders Manchester United into the next phase of the Champions League, was Aberdeen manager at the time of his clandestine trip to Molineux and has since been quoted as saying that his ambitions at Pittdorie were then ‘not even half-fulfilled.’
Having won the Scottish League and Scottish Cup with them, he subsequently led them to European Cup Winners Cup glory in 1983 and was strongly linked with Tottenham, Arsenal and the Scottish national team before moving to Old Trafford in 1986.
Ross, a former Liverpool and Aston Villa defender, left Molineux around the time of the Derek Dougan-led take over in the summer of 1982 and subsequently spent eight years managing in Iceland. His family had homes in Wolverhampton for ten years and his daughter still lives in Aldersley.
The Glaswegian also had a stint in charge at Huddersfield and now, at 61, lives in retirement in Skelmersdale, from where he is an occasional visitor to Liverpool home games.
Ian Greaves was chosen as Barnwell’s successor 26 years ago but was himself ousted by the new regime and replaced by Graham Hawkins.