Wolves comment: Farewell and good luck to honest character Jack Price
Occasionally a football transfer pops right out of left field.
Jack Price leaving Wolves may not have been a huge surprise given his lack of playing time under Nuno Espirito Santo, but the midfielder’s next destination of Colorado Rapids certainly raised a few eyebrows.
The 25-year-old has swapped historic Molineux for the, erm, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (say no to modern football, folks) – and does so with, to use an Americanism, a super load of goodwill behind him.
The reaction to Price’s exit was generally one of sadness but acceptance. Sadness that an academy graduate who gave his all every time he donned the shirt had moved on...acceptance that Wolves are on a different playing field in 2018 and there's no longer room for a host of players who've served the club with distinction over a number of years, with Nouha Dicko and Dave Edwards being other recent examples to have moved on.
Price played 115 times for Wolves and that figure, spread over four and a half seasons, should certainly have been higher.
The guy had more comebacks than East 17, with his last coming at the very start of pre-season when Nuno Espirito Santo initially favoured Price over Romain Saiss, just a few weeks after the Shropshire-born midfielder seemed destined to leave Molineux.
"It’s another Wolves comeback hopefully!" Price said in July. "I’ve done it a few times so I’m sure I’ll do it again."
It was all too brief though and he never started another league game.
Previous managers had done the same. Kenny Jackett regularly brought Price in and out the team, Walter Zenga didn't take a shine to him (giving Price just three starts) and then Paul Lambert, after starting Price for his first game in charge and several thereafter, left him on the sidelines in the closing weeks of the season.
For such a tidy, attractive footballer with a great eye for a pass and intelligent positioning, Price never quite fulfilled his undoubted potential in gold and black.
His big chance to kick on could have come under Jackett. In the final games of his tenure Price was in the form of his life, producing a midfield masterclass at Burnley as Wolves held the champions elect to a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.
Jackett called it Price's best performance for Wolves and he followed that up with a starring role and a memorable late winner at MK Dons.
"Me personally, I think Pricey's a Premier League player," fellow Salopian Dave Edwards said after that 2-1 win.
"The way he plays the game, his awareness – he rarely gives the ball away, and he's not a safe passer either. He's got that anticipation where he breaks things up."
At that point it was hard to disagree with Edwards' assessment of the 'Shropshire Pirlo' but three months later Jackett had been sacked and Price's career stalled.
Price was adept at keeping the tempo high, recycling possession, reading the game and sniffing out danger, but the lack of a threat going forward and a failure to consistently dominate games, particularly at Molineux, were probably his undoing.
Jackett's assistant boss Joe Gallen called for Price to expand his game back in 2016.
"If he's going to play that role, he's got to come up with a longer pass, he's still got to do his defensive work, and he's got to come up with the odd goal and longer shot now and again, because it does fall that way for a number four position," Gallen said.
The lack of a 15-20 game run in the side didn't help but after Fosun's takeover the Molineux landscape changed.
And that's the difference with Wolves nowadays. They're a club in a hurry, with no time or patience for underperforming or inconsistent players – and the proof is in the table-topping pudding. Perhaps in that regard you worry for the Molineux futures of Morgan Gibbs-White and Connor Ronan if they're not given room to develop.
As for Price, he'll be remembered as a cult hero – 'fear the beard', etc – and a wholehearted and committed player who cared dearly for the club he'd been at since aged seven. You could never, ever accuse him of not giving 100 per cent and he was a leader on the pitch too. When Wolves were at their lowest ebb under Jackett, being thumped 4-1 by Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, it was Price who marched around the pitch cajoling his team mates to keep their heads up.
Erudite and personable (not traits you see as often with footballers these days) Price was notoriously media-shy but always took the time out to say hello to the press, or fans, or just about anyone. Indeed he struck up a strong connection with the Wolves fanbase who loved his attitude.
He was popular in the dressing room and an endearingly positive influence who will be missed by the club.
The move to Colorado is a thrilling one for him and with his poise and technical ability he should thrive in MLS.
We shall watch his career with interest. Good luck Pricey.