Wolves the example of what can be achieved
LET Mike Ashley use the visit to Wolves as a wake-up call on what a club can achieve with the handbrake off as opposed to the handbrake perpetually on when attempting to climb the steepest of hills.
Because while the history of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United has often run along parallel lines – legendary old clubs who have been comatose for many years – they have sprinted away from us since both returned to the Premier League.
Consider the histories of once successful clubs:
BOTH were dominant in the fifties – Wolves took over from Manchester United's Munich Babes to roar to the First Division championship three times (1954, 1958, 1959) while United's impressive hat-trick was in the FA Cup of 1951, 1952 and 1955. ■ THEIR teams were built on shining stars. The likes of Billy Wright, Bert Williams, Johnny Hancocks,
Bill Slater, Dennis Wilshaw and Ron Flowers for them. Newcastle with Wor Jackie, Bobby Mitchell, Joe Harvey, George Robledo, and Jimmy Scoular.
THE successful fifties managers – Stan Cullis and Stan Seymour – had both starred for their clubs as players before returning to light up grateful fans.
FAST forward to the seventies. Wolves reached the UEFA Cup final of 1971-72 while United had triumphed in the European Fairs Cup of 1969 and then they won the League Cup in 1974, beating Manchester City 2-1. Incredibly, only two years later the Mags lost their one and only League Cup final by the same scoreline to the same opposition. THE Wanderers in the seventies boasted Derek Dougan, John Richards, Dave Wagstaffe, Mike Bailey and Alan Sunderland. We had SuperMac, Bob Moncur, Terry Hibbitt, Terry McDermott, and Frank Clark. Stars all. However, life was to change dramatically over future years.
Since United were last in the Championship alongside Wolves in 201617 they have taken the fast lift upwards and we have lived in the basement.
Incredibly, the season Rafa Benitez won the title Wolves were languishing in 15th place but, promoted the following season, they have twice finished seventh in the Premier League and reached the Europa Cup quarter-finals, whereas United have been grateful for final placings of 10th, 13th and 13th because it meant no return from whence they came.
Wolves' stature emphasises that clubs coming up can aspire to more than scraping survival if they don't wear blinkers and act in the way Kevin Keegan was allowed to in the early nineties. It
also underlines what a change in ownership can do.
Fosun International moved into Wolves in July 2016, appointed Nuno Espirito Santo as manager the following May and promotion was achieved after six years in 2017-18. They are sixth with
United in their usual 13th place. Their fans can see a bright future with a fair wind, Newcastle's only the darkness of a coal face at midnight unless Ashley takes the next chariot out of town.
Meanwhile, Steve Bruce has to ignore the obvious and aim for a one-off result on Sunday against the guile and tactical thinking of Santo. It can, of course, be done. Since Wolves joined us the four league matches have resulted in a win apiece and two 1-1 draws, both in Wolverhampton.
The problem for Bruce is overcoming a 4-1 slaughtering by Manchester United which means addressing personnel, confidence, formationand, crucially, tactics. As far as fans are concerned he and Ashley are in adjoining stocks.