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Wolves blog: Return of the pack

Sport | Published:

It is a common thing among football fans to take a nostalgic look back at players who have been and gone and ask, 'Where are they now?' Wolves blogger Tom Tracey takes a step into the past.

Wolves fans don't have to look far for some ex-players with three members of the backroom staff as the returning departed – Chris Iwelumo's very short spell in charge of the under-18 squad made it four temporarily before his surprising resignation.

Iwelumo replaced the promoted Rob Edwards who has been made first-team coach. Tony Daley has bounced back from an injury-hit Wolves playing career to become Head of First Team Athletic Performance and Head of Sport Science and Conditioning.

Wolves announced on Twitter this summer that Seyi George Olofinjana has been coaching the under-15s and under-16s Academy teams for a few months now.

What is encouraging the return of those who once graced the Molineux pitch on a regular basis?

Other than Tony Daley, three of the four were appointed under Kenny Jackett's tenure. Perhaps the home-grown approach through the Academy has a further application into non-playing roles.

Edwards, Olofinjana and recently Iwelumo were appointed into their first real coaching roles at Wolves and after only a year Edwards has stepped up to join Jackett's daily routines.

Rob Edwards played for Wolves more than any of his other eight professional clubs during his career and so was a name already well known by fans when he was appointed in 2014.

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Rob would also have been very familiar with the club and perhaps this allowed him to synchronise into the role easily as he enjoyed a successful first year in his role, finishing the season by being involved in the Bitzer Cup victory before moving up to the first team.

A flying start to Chris Iwelumo's Wolves career saw him hit 15 goals in 16 games before injuries and new signings following promotion saw his chances limited before he moved on to Burnley. His stay was short but his impact was great, helping Wolves to win the Championship in 2009.

Iwelumo has said that leaving Wolves 'was probably one of his regrets' and his return would have meant that the under-18s would have benefited from the obvious enthusiasm and sense of humour of a man who naturally commands respect.

However, Chris cited an underestimation of the work required in the role and leaves a hole that again requires plugging. Regardless, he was Wolves' first choice for the role.

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Whilst Seyi Olofinjana's coaching role at Wolves was kept quiet until recently, he is another popular player who tried hard whenever he played for Wolves, unfortunately without managing to play in the Premier League with them.

Upon his departure to Stoke City, Jez Moxey revealed that a new contract signed earlier that season came with an agreement that Wolves would offer him to other clubs upon failure of promotion, meaning that they banked around £3 million instead of losing him for nothing.

All three of these recent backroom recruits have had fond relationships with Wolves and fit in with the club's emphasis on building on a certain culture and philosophy through the 'W.O.L.V.E.S. Way' as they will already be aware of what is required.

It seems as well as wanting to offer young players a chance to break into first-team football, Wolves are offering young coaches the chance to break into the game. Sam Ricketts was given a chance to show his hand when he wasn't selected in the team last season.

It can certainly be a successful method, as Bournemouth gave ex-player Eddie Howe his first full-time managerial position at the age of 31 in 2009.

Fast forward to 2015 and he was named as the Football League's Manager of the Decade in April, guiding them to the Premier League for the first time in their history.

As long as Wolves' desire to give someone a pathway is mirrored by the individuals' desire to succeed, this could prove to be a successful marriage.

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