So Julen. By the time I’ve finished writing this you will probably be on the way to be being announced as the new Wolves Gaffer. Welcome to Wolverhampton mate. There are a few things I would like to throw into the mix as to what you should expect albeit from a bloke well on the fringes of the whole madhouse. This means I can probably give you a Fans eye view of what’s been going on. Sit yourself down bubba, have a cup of tea or a glass of wine or something….
Some insane things have gone on at Molineux over the past 18 months or so. I say insane because there’s no other way to put it. Things have gone very wrong dude. Most of this insanity is the fact that Fosun and our Ex Coach Bruno Lage had some very different ideas about how to run a football club. I think in many ways Bruno was given a green light to impose his style of Coaching on a group of dysfunctional individual football players. This style was very Philosophical and very academic. Which is great if you have a team of University Graduates with an inkling of Football Philosophy. Intelligent players. These are rare to find. Most football Pros you have to remember instead of spending their time in a Classroom learning about Philosophy etc they were most often found playing football in the streets or local park, playing for a team. This is good, this is how football players learn their trade. Via ‘Flying time’ getting the hours in and learning the basics of how to kick or control a ball, how to pass, shoot, defend. All these skills are honed on the grass or the concrete. You don’t really need to ‘Coach’ in many respects. But you do have to impart ‘Philosophy’ tactics, strategies and cunning plans. You must know by now that these tactics have to be explained in very simple terms. Big blocks of verbiage and instruction are a massive no-no. The long hours drilling the squad through video replays and funky software must be ditched. They are tools and not dogmatic aides for ideas. This group of players want to play football not learn about your crack of dawn mental insights. They learn that by osmosis and that takes time, trust and work. Be kind with them Julen. They are a squad bereft of everything at the moment.
But. They are a great squad. We have awesome players in this group. A raw material in which to mold and form to your own ideas. I have read much about how you impart these ideas and I have enjoyed reading about them. You have a relationship with your players, and this is good also. I love the fact that you will drop in here (probably) and immediately start working out the dynamics of the group, there are many dynamics and relationships within the squad. It will be a nightmare at first to ascertain what the fuck is going on. The players have filled a void left by Nuno and not really filled in by Lage. So, players fill it, they have become emboldened to fill that void with their own shapes and ideas and to be honest they shouldn’t have been allowed to do that. But that’s a problem that can be internalised within the corporate shape of Fosun and that Management at a distance vibe Fosun have implemented. This Club Julen can be yours if you want it. You can make a mark here with this team if you approach the job with the same zeal, you have used previously at other clubs.
Bring Adama back into the vibe. He has been lost for a few years. Bruno Lage has never understood the extremely complex Adama Traore. Adama is worth the time and effort to inspire and that is the truth. Make him a key part of your plans. Play him high, get him to run at defenders, get him whipping those crosses in. Get players in the fucking box waiting for it. Be insane my friend. Let these players play football. Let them enjoy their football. Players….big faces have left the club and the players left behind here may want to fill those smaller voids. Allow them to do this, let them paint their own Masterpieces on the canvas of the Molineux pitch.
The same can be said for other players who have been left to emotionally fend for themselves. When that duty of care is cast away under another three hour kick by kick analysis of the previous game you lose them. They get bored. A sympathetic and empathic approach is what is needed now. A word here and there. A phrase or an admonition. Short bursts of verbal instruction not pages of notes. Don’t be abstract and obtuse with these players. Allegory and metaphoric analysis are not a pre requisite to be a footballer listening to his Coach. Here’s me chatting like a Prick to a European Coach about how to do his job. I apologise. Who am I? Just a bloke of course. An idle face in the crowd….but that crowd.
Wolves Fans are a funny bunch, like all football fans really. We like to feel part of things, part of the club. It’s hard to love Fosun and their acolytes. Where Nuno was the oil in the gears between the fans and Fosun, under Lage we were left alone. Bruno never loved us. I don’t think he ever really wanted to know who we were knowing that his tenure was bound to be short and sweet. Another void my friend. One that you will have to fill somehow. How do you do that? Be honest. The Club is filled with those who would use their position to advance their own agendas. Ignore those people. In your first game in charge look over to your right. That’s the Southbank. It is not what it was of course. Wolves have lost many of it’s vociferous and vocal fans. I have said before that Covid, Cost of living crisis and the struggle to survive on Clown Island has meant that many of the fans that stood in that stand have found other things to do. Fosun has tried to leave us behind of course but deep in that stand we still survive just about and we will be watching. Be honest with us and you will have the support you need to impose your own ideas and we will stand with you. Get the players you have under your command to play Wolves football. Attack, you have the players. Galvanise them, inspire them. These teams that we play against are defunct when we attack. It’s the Wolves way, deep in our DNA we like to fight and struggle. It’s a Black Country thing for sure but it’s also a Wolverhampton thing. This clubs identity is purely Wolverhampton. It’s not global and it’s not the brand, it’s not record companies and kit sponsors or any of the bullshit that flies around the club now we are in the Premier League. It’s about ‘Pack mentality’ it’s about sticking up for your team and team mates, it’s about loyalty and the fight that’s all. It’s not complicated.
I am looking forwards to your work here and I welcome you. What a glorious opportunity to build something new and dynamic with these players. But like I said before….at your first game lift your head up and look around you, look at us. We are also important.
PS I have produced some prints that I am letting go hyper cheap on my Gallery shop. I know this Xmas will be tough for some people and they make great presents, something they will keep for years to come. Diego Costa too, I am sure he will set Molineux alight at some point and I love him for that. He was a perfect foil to contrast neatly with the other art available on there. Check it out in the link below