Tremendous track record New Wolves boss Solbakken faces tough test from the start
14:18 GMT, 9 August 2012
Stale Solbakken arrived at Molineux with a 'tremendous track record,' according to the man who appointed him, Wolves' owner Steve Morgan.
Neatly brushing aside the car crash at Cologne, the former Wimbledon midfielder's success with Copenhagen was highlighted as a principal reason for his appointment.
Let's hope the Norwegian truly is the 'real deal'. Because what is becoming more evident with each passing day is that Solbakken will be tested from the very first kick of the ball in competitive action against Aldershot in the Capital One Cup first round this weekend.
Tough task: Stale Solbakken is charged with getting Wolves promoted at the first attempt in the Championship
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Stepping into what is the most competitive league in English football with a fair wind behind you is one thing. Trying to engineer a flying start amid uncertainty with a couple of your more influential players is another.
No supporter should be surprised that the hired hands who pass for the modern professional footballer can dictate whether they stay or go when the merest whiff of a more attractive offer is in the air.
So it was with Michael Kightly. So it is with Matt Jarvis. And so, too, it is with Steven Fletcher.
It happened to Birmingham City last season. It will happen to another club in 12 months' time.
However, where Solbakken, chief executive Jez Moxey and Morgan can count themselves unlucky is the timing of these offers.
Demands: Steven Fletcher has handed in a transfer request
For the uninitiated, a footballer's contract runs from July 1 to June 30. When that date passes – and yes, I appreciate the irony of this – they are often due another portion of their signing-on fee or 'loyalty' bonus as the next 12 months of their deal kicks in.
Unless a buying club wants to make a statement regarding season-ticket sales by unveiling a name signing, it is normally only after this time that deals are struck, although the 'Fletcher to Sunderland' bandwagon has been rolling since mid-May.
Think about it. Fletcher could bank another portion of his signing-on fee after his move from Burnley on July 1. Then negotiate himself another chunk of cash when he moves to the Stadium of Light in late August. Nice work if you can get it.
Given Martin O'Neill's past dealings at Aston Villa, it is little surprise that the Irishman has waited almost until the season's start to make a concerted effort to prise the Scotland international to Wearside. He routinely waited until the last week before the transfer window closed to make his moves at Villa Park.
Jarvis has also been at the centre of bids by West Ham and Fulham to move him back into the Premier League for some time.
And Moxey explained that Kightly's sale was forced by the player entering the final year of his deal. It was, given the player's pay hike, probably a deal which suited both parties (although, I'm sure like me, plenty of Wolves' supporters would have liked to have seen him form part of a successful promotion campaign).
It may well be that Wolves' coffers are swelled by over 20m by the time that the transfer window closes in the Premier League (it appears to be a case of when, not if, both depart).
Fair recompense some might say. It would, though, have been far more helpful had this whole situation been finalised weeks ago.
Departure: Michael Kightly has signed for Stoke
The continuing swirl of uncertainty around Molineux with a situation not under the club's control is not conducive to Solbakken producing performances on the pitch.
Do the disaffected players remain part of the group Do they train with the first-team Are they named to start, safe in the knowledge that before the next match is played, they could be on their way How does that affect the squad Can it be allowed to affect the group
Solbakken has to deal with that in the early part of the season and put out a competitive team in this toughest of leagues.
Make no mistake, Championship managers will be smelling blood in the opening few weeks of the campaign.
The Norwegian has to get to grips quickly in a division in which he has no practical experience and manage those who want to get away and those who want to stay.
It is the first examination in what is sure to be a testing campaign. Let's face it, there is always a sense of impatience among supporters whenever a team drops out of the Premier League.
So, Solbakken might boast a 'tremendous track record.' But this Championship campaign already looks like providing him with an acid test as to whether he can cut it in English football.
And, you suspect, in just ten months' time we will have the answer about whether his stay in the Black Country will be a long one.