As Steve Morgan announces his sale of Wolves, David Handley looks back at the chairman’s time at Molineux.
Steve Morgan: 2007 – 2015.
Let’s start off with some facts about Steve Morgan, the house building businessman.
Over the last year Redrow Homes has broken through the one billion turnover barrier for the first time; the group’s annual figures showed a 33% increase in revenue and a monumental 53% surge in pre-tax profits.
To use Steve’s own words:
‘Redrow is in great shape and I am looking forward to another year of significant progress.’
What has never been in doubt is that Steve Morgan is a fantastic businessman; Intelligent, shrewd, industry-leading, and most importantly, professional.
Sadly for fans of Wolves, this approach hasn’t seemed to follow him into his other main role, as Chairman of our football club.
Knee-jerk reactions, Ill informed decisions and perplexing appointments have been the norm; particularly over the last four seasons.
Following the dismissal of Mick McCarthy after that humiliating home defeat to West Bromwich Albion, the first of many, many poor decisions that would follow, below in no particular order:
• Replacing Mick McCarthy with Terry Connor
• Stale Solbakken’s appointment (and dismissal depending on your viewpoint…)
• Dean Saunders
• Re-building the North Bank.
The North Bank redevelopment will now always be seen as a black mark on the Morgan regime, perhaps the point at which it all started to go so spectacularly wrong.
In 2010, the year that the North Bank expansion plans were announced, Wolves clung on to their Premier League status by the metaphorical skin of their teeth.
One point and one goal was the difference between us and a relegated Birmingham City.
Many fans would go on to speculate (perhaps with the benefit of hindsight) that tough decisions needed to be made at that point, to push Wolves on to the next level.
They weren’t, and total meltdown would follow.
In fairness to Steve Morgan, he backed his manager with two big money signings: Roger Johnson and Jamie O’Hara, but neither of them worked out and the uncertainty and anger began to build on the terraces.
Dissension rumbled on for weeks, eventually cascading down onto the team and manager during that 5-1 loss.
Mick McCarthy was relieved of his duties, and then began one of the most farcical management searches in Wolves history.
Fans were told that experience was needed, before the job was eventually handed to the hapless and hopeless Terry Connor, whose only experience seemed to be of holding the clipboard and cones during McCarthy’s training sessions.
Yet more rash decisions followed our slow, painful relegation back to The Championship.
First a complete change in philosophy headed up by Solbakken; which saw him throw a 10 million pound war chest at Tongo Doumbia, Bjorn Sigurdsson and Razak Boukari before being sacked a matter of months later.
He was then replaced by Dean Saunders; who went on to oversee another relegation, this time to League One.
‘If it gets to the point where I feel I am not wanted I will go.’
Two years and two relegations now separated Wolves from The Premier League; our owner had virtually vanished from view, leaving the recruitment of Kenny Jackett up to Jez Moxey and Kevin Thelwell.
A League One title winning season followed and there was a feeling that a double promotion could happen to wash away the double relegation and pain of the two previous seasons.
But the transfer policy was revolution over evolution and only Tommy Rowe and Rajiv Van La Parra came in to the club, with Benik Afobe following in January.
Even now there is a sense that last season was a real opportunity to get promotion, with the right investment, which wasn’t there.
The loss of Bakary Sako and Richard Stearman, with no real replacements and no real sign of intent or ambition has brought the good will that had built up with fans crashing down around the club.
A poor start to the season has seen questions asked of Kenny Jackett for the first time.
Then out of no-where, Steve Morgan was gone.
In truth, the man who took over our club eight years ago had faded a long time ago.
Was he blinded by his redevelopment project?Or did he not understand the game?
In truth, I don’t think anyone could accuse him of being uncaring, in fact perhaps sometimes he has let his feelings and emotions intrude on his business decisions.
The fact that he has never appointed a ‘Football man’ to his board has been his true downfall, someone to guide him on football decisions and strategy.
That will be his epitaph, the one key decision that could have negated all of those awful choices.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for Morgan at Molineux however, the promotion and subsequent Premier League campaigns were as exciting a time as Wolves fans have had for a number of years.
We now have a team filled with young players, a number of whom have come through Wolves’ Category One status academy, and the team train everyday at the state of the art Sir Jack Hayward training ground.
Let us not forget that neither of these would be possible without Steve Morgan’s investment.
‘The academy has Category 1 status and I’m determined Wolves will be right at the forefront.’
In terms of league position, we may well be in a very similar position to when Sir Jack handed the reigns over all those years ago, but off the pitch Wolves are surely a much more attractive proposition.
The infrastructure has been built for the team to flourish on for a number of years to come,
So why would Steve Morgan go now?
Perhaps what he said about leaving when he wasn’t wanted is true, however one rumoured group of fans in a car park after Wolves 1-1 draw with Preston are surely not enough to push this proud businessman over the edge.
Only last week Steve Morgan did an interview about his love for the club and the city, surely that love hasn’t evaporated in the following week?
Or perhaps he has realised that the truth is he just doesn’t have the money to back up his ambitions.
Football is a business of the present, not the future, and the modern game has become the play thing of billionaires, not millionaires.
‘Sir Jack said that I’d had a heart transplant to Wolverhampton, but I think it’s a bit more than that – a whole body transplant.’
How do you feel about Steve Morgan’s time at Wolves? Comment below and share your opinion.