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WOLVES: Graeme Souness | Back In The Dug-Out

Disastrous at Anfield, a nutter in Turkey. My name is Graeme Souness, and this is my managerial comeback.
Started on 23 April 2014 by fmhunter
Latest Reply on 24 April 2014 by fmhunter
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fmhunter's avatar Group fmhunter
6 yearsEdited

Hello, and welcome to my story. My name is Graeme Souness - and I have just been appointed manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, as we prepare for a promotion battle after suffering back-to-back relegations and ending up in the Sky Bet League 1.

My aim is to buy wisely, financially stabilise the club and return the club to where it belongs: The Barclays Premier League.

Now, I know I haven't been the most successful manager in the past, but I have learned from my mistakes and I have studied the game profusely whilst working with Sky Sports. This job feels like the perfect fit, and I look forward to sharing my managerial comeback with you all.

It's been 8 years since I left Newcastle United - and this is the perfect opportunity to bring my expertise to a crisis club.

I hope you can enjoy this journey as much as I will.

Graeme Souness
Good luck !
Looking forward to seeing how you do with this story.
Good story :)
Good luck
Good luck! :)

JULY 2013

The first thing I do when I walk through the door at any football club is have a sift through the staff within the club and then offer mutual contract terminations to those who don't have a future on my backroom team.

The first man to go was the first man I met at the training ground. Joe Gallen, who was assistant manager to Kenny Jackett, grabbed his jacket and left the club with immediate effect. Director of Football Kevin Thelwell also quickly followed Gallen out the door, and this meant I needed to create a team of staff around me that can make this promotion bid a sturdy one.

Even though a Director of Football isn't technically backroom (more upstairs than anything), I am in control of hiring and firing that position so my replacement search for the outgoing Thelwell began. I took a call from fellow countryman and close friend Owen Coyle upon taking this job and he told me that the Chief Scout at Dundee FC, Archie Knox, would make an excellent Director of Football due to his outstanding judging of ability and potential of a footballer - not to mention his eye for a deal and adaptability, meaning he won't find the switch from being a Scout to Director too troublesome. I approached Dundee and they granted me permission to speak to Knox, who within the hour had agreed to become Wolves Director of Football. Great news for the club, his business in the transfer market could aid us incomprehensibly this season. Archie has held almost every position within a football club, and has worked alongside great managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson - and also managed Scotland U21s many years ago. He brings a wealth of experience to the club and I know he will be an excellent addition in time.

During my conversation with Coyle I also mentioned that I will need a First Team Coach as I want three coaches on the training ground - and Wolves have previously run on a skeleton coaching staff of two - manager and assistant. He said that they don't come much better than Steve Davis, who assisted Owen at Burnley and then Bolton, but has remained unemployed since their time at The Reebok came to an abrupt end. I rang Steve and discussed with him the plan of action at Wolves and he appeared keen - not many know the role of First Team Coach better than himself and he knows what it takes to be promoted after their Championship success at Burnley. We arranged a meeting for the following day and it was within a few hours of its end that the club released a statement confirming the appointment of Steve as First Team Coach.

To conclude my work in July I needed an Assistant Manager. A man with experience and a solid understanding of the game. I want this man to be a good coach on the training ground (especially in defence) and a real passionate and motivating influence alongside myself.

I rang Archie and asked him if he'd send me an email with some names on who fit the criteria I just mentioned. Firstly, having just stepped down as Caretaker Player/Manager of Swansea City, I decided to enquire about the availability of club captain Garry Monk. Despite having our transfer offer of £250,000 accepted - 'Mr Swansea' turned us down, as we failed to agree on wages and the coaching role to accompany his playing responsibilities.

The next name on the list was that of Alan Kernaghan. Myself and Alan had met previously at LMA meetings in the past, and have spoke briefly in group conversations, but this approach would be the first time we have spoken in private. He was all for the idea of assisting me at Wolves, and signed a 2 year contract at Molineux.

Thankfully, I had now compiled my staff. Now I turned my focus to sending Archie a list of positions that need strengthening within the club, and boy did he produce. The following is a list of players me and Archie sealed deals for. We worked together and very hard on securing some of these names, and their vast experience in high level sport can push us to greatness this season.


Nuno Gomes was a deal I was extremely keen to pull off. He is something of a Portugal legend and is coming to the end of his career, but I believe he can be a strong player in League 1. Do let me know what you think of these signings - I think experienced lads like Gary Teale can do a real job.

I allowed some young talent to go out on loan for a period of time too.


I am getting very giddy about the start of the season now. Our pre-season has got off to a decent start and whilst I won't bore you with great detail, our results have run like this so far:

Other than the blip against Ujpest all is very positive - and in fairness we had rested all of our key players in this game to let the youth boys have a good run out in the first team.

I am getting very giddy about the start of the season now and can't wait to see how we fare in this division. The game has changed even in the 8 years I've been out of the dugout, hopefully it doesn't take me too long to adjust.

Hope you can tune in and find out how August and the beginning of our season goes in the next update.

For now, best wishes to you all.

Graeme Souness.
Very detailed update! Really nice start to your story! Can I suggest something? Try and make your pictures the same size, and also I'd recommend centring them like this:

[.center]Image Link[/center.]

But remember to remove the fullstops! :)
Fantastic updates, especially for a new story :). Looking forward for more, and I definitely believe that Nuno Gomes can tutor any youngsters that you have lying on your youth squad. If you have Leigh Griffiths, you'll have a great goalscorer, but if you don't.. well :P
good luck should be in the premier in no time
2014-04-24 02:07#171456 Pauker : Fantastic updates, especially for a new story :). Looking forward for more, and I definitely believe that Nuno Gomes can tutor any youngsters that you have lying on your youth squad. If you have Leigh Griffiths, you'll have a great goalscorer, but if you don't.. well :P

Thanks a lot pal. Unfortunately Leigh Griffiths moved on to Celtic in the 14.3 update although I have told Archie Knox if we can do a deal to take him on loan we must try to get that done on Deadline Day. Appreciate the feedback!
Goodluck to you mate. Come on wolves :D


I love the game. And even though watching the game week in week out with Redknapp and Carragher was a pleasure, nothing beats being IN the game.

8 years is a long time. The game has changed a lot in those 8 years, but this is a learning curve for me and I believe I'm at the right club (and at the right level) to distinguish myself as a top manager and rebuild my reputation after failing in my first stint as a football manager. I started too high. Liverpool, Galatasaray, Rangers, Benfica, Newcastle - all huge clubs where the pressure was too great for me to show what I could do. This time it's different, this time I've got all the passion and intelligence of football management needed to be successful. At those clubs I just mentioned, all I had was passion. And, in fairness, it was unrivalled.

August was a month of mixed emotions. I put it down to me finding my feet back in the dugout and getting to know how best my players work and in what systems against differing opposition.

To begin the month - only a day before I made my return to competitive management away at Preston North End, Archie Knox, my newly appointed Director of Football phoned me with the good news that the club had managed to sign young striker Apostolos Vellios on a 6 month loan deal from Everton. This is likely to be the last move we make in the window and we are happy with the business done.

And so it was upon me - Preston North End in their own back yard. My return to competitive management. This is my recap of the months football.


Wolves XI: (4-5-1): C Ikeme; M Keane, D Batth, R Stearman, S Ricketts (C); J Henry, J O'Hara, J Morris, K McDonald, M Jacobs; N Gomes

Substitutions: (62) OFF Gomes ON Dicko

This was a difficult defeat to take on the opening day of the season because deep down I knew the result was in the majority my fault. I let the fans down. I was very defensive with a 4-5-1 as I was expecting their midfield to be energetic and incisive so I went with five to gazump them and the aim was to hit them on the break. I have been, at my former club, in the top flight and used to managing wonderfully gifted players - so my philosophies were always play possession and free flowing football. This won't be possible in this division with the squad at my disposal. I instructed the lads to keep the ball at all costs and whilst for some parts of the game they did as they were asked, they weren't creating opportunities or looking like a threat. I can't be held responsible for conceding two goals in the opening seven minutes of the game though, that isn't good enough and the boys were made well aware of that at half-time. Unfortunately it just wasn't to be. A difficult start for me at my new club but something to build on in the coming games.

Next up was divisional rivals Scunthorpe United at Molineux Stadium in the Capital One Cup 2nd Round. I was given a warm reception by the fans and I was happy to see that they weren't resentful regarding the defeat at Preston just three days prior.


Wolves XI: (4-1-3-2): C Ikeme; M Keane, D Batth, R Stearman, S Ricketts (C); K Foley; J Morris, D Davis, J O'Hara; N Gomes, A Vellios

Substitutions: (92) OFF Gomes & Keane ON Dicko & Golbourne

Thankfully, and eventually, we won this game and progressed to the next round of the Capital One Cup. This competition isn't particularly important - but the fans do love a good cup run and I imagine a trip to Wembley Stadium would probably be preferable over promotion for a fair few Wolves fans. This competition is not my priority (the league is), however, I fielded a strong side as it is important to the get the supporters on side early on and by winning this match I feel I have made good inroads into doing so. We played OK, we weren't fabulous and it was a scrappy game, though having made a couple of changes at the beginning of Extra Time, the fresh legs gave us a welcome boost and it was Jamie O'Hara who sent us through with a good finish on the stroke of ET half-time. We were drawn against my old club Blackburn Rovers in the next round - and believe me that match is worth reading on for.

Anyway, it was back to league business now and we were faced with Gillingham in front of our own supporters in the second league game of the season.


Wolves XI: (4-1-3-2): A McCarey; S Ricketts (C), G Elokobi, R Stearman, S Golbourne; J Morris; J Henry, K Foley, K McDonald; L Clarke, N Dicko

Substitutions: n/a

This was a superb win for us and it meant a lot to me on a personal level as I felt like the fans were really behind the side and desperate for the team to get back to winning ways in the league. One thing I've noticed about this club is that the support is absolutely phenomenal. Back-to-back relegations from the Premier League to League 1 and yet home games still average 20,000 - it's stunning. We went for an attacking line-up but a few key players were missing through injury. Keeper Carl Ikeme was ruled out for 3 weeks with a knee problem, Danny Batth was fatigued along with Jamie O'Hara, Nuno Gomes, Apostolos Vellios, Michael Keane and Jody Morris. So we had made significant changes but attacked Gillingham from the word go and deservedly found ourselves 2-0 up inside an hour. They grabbed one back a minute after our second which unnerved me - but not the players and we collected all three points from a decent Gillingham side. We weren't fielding nearly our strongest eleven so it was all the more pleasing to see our weaker outfit win the game. Leon Clarke scored a wonder goal in this game too - which sees him competing with Vellios and Gomes for the first choice striker spot within the club.

The next game was a more difficult one. Also relegated from the Championship last year with ourselves were Bristol City. We went to their place in search of points but unfortunately came up short.


Wolves XI: (4-5-1): A McCarey; M Keane, D Batth, R Stearman, S Ricketts (C); J Henry, J O'Hara, J Morris, D Davis, M Jacobs; L Clarke

Substitutions: (66) OFF Davis & Clarke ON McDonald & Gomes
(81) OFF Henry ON Vellios

This result stuck in my throat to be honest. We played really well and managed to contain their threats for most of the game - but eventually fell down to a late strike against one of the top teams in the division. It would have been great to take a point but again it wasn't to be. All of our strikers were fit, but Leon Clarke led the line due to his fine performance against Gillingham. There isn't much more to add. We'll keep plugging away and hopefully pick up enough points over the course of the season to earn our way back into the Championship.

Now we returned to the Midlands to face Crawley at Molineux. I felt this was a really good opportunity to get three points on the board.


Wolves XI: (4-1-3-2): A McCarey; M Keane, D Botth, R Stearman, S Ricketts (C); J Morris; K McDonald, D Davis, J O'Hara; N Gomes, A Vellios

Substitutions: (78) OFF Gomes ON Clarke

I was upset about this one. I really thought that we could comfortably beat Crawley at home but unfortunately we could only muster a draw. We were ahead and maybe at that point I should have gone for a more defensive approach - but I pushed for another to seal the game but ended up conceding a penalty in the 77th minute, which they tucked away and took away a point. Very disappointing.

Up next was a game I desperately wanted to win. Blackburn Rovers. The club for who I won this competition with in 2002. Two years later I was offered the Newcastle job and took it which has left a sour taste in Blackburn fans mouths - which makes this game all the more important for me, as I've taken my fair share of abuse from those supporters in recent years.


Wolves XI: (4-5-1): A McCarey; M Keane, D Batth, R Stearman, S Ricketts (C); J Henry, J O'Hara, K Foley, D Davis, M Jacobs; A Vellios

Substitutions: (43) OFF Batth ON Morris
(83) OFF Davis & Vellios ON McDonald & Gomes

Again, it wasn't to be. We were eventually undone by a better side but I couldn't be more proud of my players' performance. A massively unfortunate outcome which probably in the end came down to fitness as our legs were tiring later on in extra-time. We gave it a real good go and I was pleased to see Apostolos Vellios score a good goal, hopefully he can kick on and become a regular on our scoresheet. 4-5-1 seems to be working more effectively now against the stronger sides - in this game it did work we were just unlucky. Though as I see it in every cloud there is a silver lining - we can now focus on the league without the distraction of a cup competition for the time being. Of course we still have the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and the FA Cup to compete in later on. I was the centre of attention for Blackburn fans throughout the game with "Souness, what's the score?" being chanted at me come the final whistle, but this only gives me more desire to succeed in this job as many have seen my managerial career as something to laugh at up until now I'm sure.

The last game in a tiring month was the long trip down to Port Vale. This match saw the return of first choice goalkeeper Carl Ikeme between the sticks and the debut of veteran forward Gary Teale.


Wolves XI: (4-2-3-1): C Ikeme; M Keane, D Batth, R Stearman, S Ricketts (C); D Davis, K McDonald; G Teale, N Gomes, J Edwards; A Vellios

Chuffed. A good, solid performance culminating in a good, solid 2-0 victory. We are slowly picking up points and eventually I'm positive it will all come together and we will be challenging for the title very soon as the teams making a good start will crumble around us. I still don't really know my best eleven players but there is lots of time to figure that out yet.

All in all it has been a steady month and I leave you with a look at the league standings at the end of August:


As I have been telling my players this month, the Grand National isn't won at the first fence.

God bless,
Graeme Souness.

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