Fergie? Platini?! The Wolves might-have-beens

If things had gone differently Steve Bruce could well have been in the away dug-out at Villa Park on Saturday.

Fergie? Platini?! The Wolves might-have-beens

It's believed Bruce came close to landing the Molineux hotseat in the summer, as he did in 2012.

But that's not the first time a big decision has changed the course of the club's history.

Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers takes a look at a few famous faces who came close to joining Wolves.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex asking Stuart Gray which dugout he should be sat in

There was no 'sir' back in 1982 but Wolves certainly saw the potential in Fergie when they tried to woo him to Molineux.

Sir Alex was already making waves at Aberdeen at the time, but owing to Wolves' glorious (then) recent history he travelled down to Wolverhampton to see if transforming Wolves' fortunes was a challenge he fancied.

It didn't go well. Fergie wasn't enamoured with the underwhelming welcome, or the line of questioning, from the Wolves hierarchy and felt he was better off at Aberdeen.

In Patrick Barclay's 2010 Sir Alex Biography 'Football - Bloody Hell!' the story is taken up...

He had warned Dick Donald that he was going to talk to them - £50,000 a year was on offer - but flew back to Aberdeen more appreciative of his surroundings than ever.

'The secretary had picked me up at Birmingham Airport and told me I was going to meet the board' he said. 'I asked why. He said they wanted to interview me. "I'm not here for an interview," I said. "You've offered me the job." So I went, but the questions were unbelievable'.

The final straw greeted him at the stadium. 'It was an afternoon and there was only one person working there - Jack Taylor, the former referee, who was on the commercial side. The place was like a ghost town. I couldn't get on the plane quick enough.'

Wolves hired Graham Hawkins instead and, despite initial success, would soon begin dropping down the leagues.

As for Fergie, he didn't do too badly for himself...

Alan Ball

Alan Ball in the blue of Everton

Ball is regarded as one of the finest midfielders ever to pull on an England shirt, winning 72 caps.

He was one of the inspirations behind their 1966 victory and served Blackpool, Everton and Arsenal in a distinguished career.

But aged 15, in 1960, he was a Wolves player.

Ball trained with Wolves for two months and played in several trial matches. But Stan Cullis didn't rate him enough to keep him and Ball was soon released. A rare mistake from Wolves' most successful ever manager.

Ball later said: "Wolves was a dream place. They were the team of the generation.

"Everything about the place produced a tingle of excitement. Even sweeping the corridors was a thrill.

"Castlecroft was a bowling green of a pitch and I was so chuffed I could handle myself, a boy among men.

"I loved watching the big stars who would pat me on the head and ask how it was going. Roy Swinbourne once said: 'How are you doing, little man?' But disappointment was around the corner…."

Bob Wilson

Bob Wilson and his haircut

Another future star who Wolves had in the grasp around that time was Bob Wilson.

From 1961 to 1963, Wilson was on amateur terms at Molineux and had an 'amazing relationship' with Cullis, as the goalkeeper later said.

But Wilson had eyes on a move to London and, despite Wolves' protestations, signed for Arsenal for £7,500, becoming the first amateur player to move for a transfer fee.

Arsenal's manager at the time? Some chap called Billy Wright...

Michel Platini

Platini could have won even more caps for France if he'd been a Wolves player. Probably.

Platini is one of the greatest players to grace a football field. And he could have been a Wolves player.

The Frenchman was at St Etienne when John Barnwell made an ambitious attempt to lure him to Molineux, sending scouts to France and even discussing a fee with the club.

However, the Wolves board were reluctant to shell out big money on a foreign player and the deal cooled. Platini then broke his ankle and it was permanently shelved.

It's believed Barnwell also tried to sign Polish legend Zbigniew Boniek, who like Platini would go on to star for Juventus.

Brian Clough

Brian Clough - in the top one of the all-time great manager's list

When Graham Taylor left Wolves in 1995, one of the best managers in the game's history fancied succeeding him.

Clough had been out of work for two years after leaving Nottingham Forest, the club he had led to a league title and two European Cups.

Aged 60, he was getting on in years, but still fancied the opportunity of leading Wolves back to the top flight.

"The FA would not give me the chance of preceding or following Graham Taylor as England manager but I would not mind succeeding him at Wolves," he said.

Wolves hired Mark McGhee instead. Clough would never manage again.

Wayne Rooney

Rooney and David Davis could have been team mates...

He's getting a bit of stick these days but if Wolves weren't being picky they probably wouldn't have turned their nose up at signing the boy who would become England's record goalscorer.

Yes, Wayne Rooney caught the attention of Wolves' old academy boss Chris Evans when the future Manchester United star was just 11 years old, in 1997.

If all accounts are to be believed then Wolves didn't have the finest record of spotting talent around this time - it's widely thought that Zinedine Zidane, Nicolas Anelka and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were all turned down as youngsters in the 1990s. However, they did spot Rooney.

Wolverhampton Schools under-11s were playing Liverpool in Bilston and Evans went to watch the game with then-Wolves boss McGhee.

Evans later said: "There was one player who stood out like a beacon. And that was a certain young man by the name of Wayne Rooney. Even at that age, he was a super player.

"Physiologically he was so much bigger than the others, quicker, stronger and more aggressive. I think Mark wanted to leave early and wasn't too enamoured when I said I wanted to wait around."

Evans sought out Rooney's father after the game, but it transpired he had registered with Everton just a few days earlier.

Five years later he'd be a Premier League star.

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