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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Opinion: Lambert and Wolves could be the perfect fit

In the summer of 2013, Wolverhampton Wanderers was a club in disarray. Having been stung by two experimental managerial appointments in Ståle Solbakken and Dean Saunders, they made what many said was a ‘safe’ appointment in seasoned football league campaigner Kenny Jackett.

Jackett was an understated and honest boss, one who did an exceptional job in rebuilding Wanderers’ squad before being undermined by off-the-pitch matters in his final season at the club. 

Many parallels can be drawn with Jackett’s appointment and that of Paul Lambert, installed as Walter Zenga’s successor recently. Already the Glaswegian has spoken of the need for unity as the Midlands side look to put together a run of form that they hope will drag them away from the relegation zone and towards the playoff places. Lambert has reintroduced public access to the training ground, something last seen under Jackett, as well as meeting a number of Wanderers fans at the club’s Compton Park training ground this week, in attempts to unite the fans behind his out-of-form team. 

Lambert’s track record at this level will encourage fans that he can be the man to bring together a diverse group of players acquired by Fosun International this summer and fire Wanderers into promotion contention, with the former Norwich City boss appearing  to have bee rejuvenated by his time spent away from the spotlight, taking in coaching sessions around the world, following frustrating spells in which he was tasked with keeping Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers afloat despite major off-field issues. 

Lambert appears, like Jackett was just over three years ago, a sensible and measured appointment, yet it is imperative that Fosun truly put their faith in the new man, and allow him to do his job without any outside interference.

It was a case of too many chefs spoiling the broth at Molineux this summer, with the 12 senior players signed being suggested, acquired or provided by a hugely diverse group of people. Some, including Benfica loanees Ola John, Joao Teixeira and Helder Costa, were heavily influenced by Fosun’s links to ‘superagent’ Jorge Mendes, as were the permanent signings of Ivan Cavaleiro and Silvio. Some were long-time targets of the club’s sporting director Kevin Thelwell, Icelandic hitman Jon Dadi Bodvarsson included.

The wishes of Walter Zenga were also accommodated, while goalkeeper Andy Lonergan was signed by Kenny Jackett before the takeover was completed. The result is that Wolves now possess a remarkably large squad, undoubtedly one containing a great wealth of talent, but have little in the way of a clear plan in terms of how exactly they will realise Fosun’s lofty ambitions for the club. 

Walter Zenga was not even Fosun’s preferred choice for the Molineux hotseat, with now-Spain manager Julen Lopetegui admitting this week that he ‘worked very closely’ with the club’s prospective owners this summer, before making the last-minute decision to answer his country’s call, opting for Madrid over Wolverhampton and Andres Iniesta over George Saville.

Following Zenga’s sacking, sporting director Kevin Thelwell claimed that the likes of Jeff Shi had learnt some harsh lessons from their first three months in English football. The club’s owners now need to put those words into action, and give Lambert, a much-welcomed appointment and certainly the most qualified person for the job, the freedom to manage as he wishes, if he is to be the man to lead Wanderers back into the Premier League. 

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