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Boss's Blueprint


11:38 8th January 2013

Saunders has plenty to work with


Dean Saunders insists his first priority as Wolves manager is to put Saturday's FA Cup nightmare right behind everyone at the club. But he insists there is plenty to build on at Molineux.

The players left behind by Ståle Solbakken have already had a close-up of the Welshman's bubbly personality on the training ground and his efforts at lifting morale will continue right up to Friday night's home game against Blackburn.

Hard work is very much on the agenda as well though, as Wolves aim to make a big success the second half of their 2012-13 season.

"If you lose in the FA Cup at Luton, that's a disastrous result," the manager said. "As well as the players being down (about dropping out of the Premier League), that's knocked the stuffing out of them.

"I think they just want to get on the training pitch and get it out of their system. We have to go forward now and I think they have got the message.

"Footballers like discipline, believe it or not, most of them anyway. Without discipline, you have not got anything.

"To do what I have done, I have needed a streak of determination. I might have a laugh and joke but players train harder under me than anywhere else. I expect a lot from them."

Dean, who is on the one-year rolling contract that has been standard length for recent Wolves managers, has already started his assessment of a squad he sees as unwieldy.

How much transfer-market activity is done in the January window remains to be seen but he believes a bedrock of talent is safely in place.

"There are a lot of players who have held their own in the Premiership," he added. "They are either doing things differently, not playing to their strengths or have lost some desire.

"If you get into the attitude that you are better than the teams you are playing, you will get stuffed.

"I would like to get the squad down to 25 and with more quality. If I need to use some of the money to do that, I will do it. I don't want lots of players unhappy at not playing....all those idle hands.

"We are six points off the bottom three and nine off the play-offs. We have good players and I don't think there's a lot wrong. But we are letting too many goals in.

"The players who are picked on Friday will have the first bite of the cherry. But stay in this league longer and the budget gets lower and lower."

The plans to scale back the 40-plus playing staff have been supported by Steve Morgan, who has also promised to try to look favourably at short-term requests for money during January.

"We probably need to slim it down by seven, eight or nine players," the chairman admitted. "So, in this transfer window and the next one, it could be 13, 14 or 15 players going out and six or seven coming in.

"We need to get some belief back into the players. I have no doubt Dean will lead from the front and turn the mind-set of the players.

"We have had a bad 12 months, you can't deny that. It was clear from the body language (up to and at the weekend) that it wasn't going to get better any time soon and we felt it had to change  completely.

"Dean loves football and is an out-and-out football man. We think we have a great man; top-class experience and the right personality for what this club needs at the moment. He is a great fit for Wolves. We felt it was absolutely the right appointment at the right time.

"We have been poor and have been poor for a long time. The last four games were dire. I'm not used in my life to having things around that don't work. We have started a new era and I hope it's a long and successful one."

Dean admitted he feels privileged to have been offered by far his biggest managerial assignment to date and is proud of the groundwork he has done in the game.

Having spent several summers doing his coaching badges, he once worked for nothing for Friday's Molineux visitors and turned round Wrexham's fortunes after two and a half years' hard work. The list of managers he has worked with includes Graeme Sounness and John Toshack.

He said he met Steve properly for the first time only on Sunday, although the two had had previous fleeting acquaintances, and believes all managers and coaches should start at the bottom and work up.

"My Dad used to say: 'Work hard and good things will happen to you'," he added. "Seventy-five per cent of the job is nothing to do with football.

"I had to break up a fight between two women at one of my past clubs and you're always having to help players with problems. All young managers should go and work down there and learn everything. I don't know how they cope otherwise if they go straight in (higher up)."

Steve said many of the candidates were the same as had been around last year when Wolves were manager-seeking following the departure of Mick McCarthy.

He described Sunday – the day of the talks with Dean – as one of the most entertaining days of his life and praised the new appointment’s ‘infectious’ personality.

The chairman pointed out, though, that the club had had much to savour before ‘taking a bit of a drubbing over a year and a half’ – namely walking away with the Championship in 2008-09 and having three Premier League seasons that contained several victories against the elite clubs.







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