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Nigel Pearson's Track Talk: Great move to get Sam Ermolenko back at Wolves

By Nigel Pearson | Speedway | Published:

AS PR moves go, Wolverhampton’s appointment of Sam Ermolenko as caretaker boss in Peter Adams’ absence is a masterstroke.

Peter Karlsson and Sam Ermolenko

‘Sudden Sam’ is the most popular rider ever to wear Wolves colours according to many passionate fans.

And with Adams currently unavailable due to a family holiday, the Californian takes charge in Monday’s Monmore Green clash with reigning champions Poole.

It’s an ironic twist that he should be up against Poole. They are the club he first joined in the UK in the mid-80s before Wolverhampton pounced when the Pirates hit financial trouble.

The rest, as they say, is history. He went on to thrill crowds with his spectacular style and his charismatic personality, culminating in his one and only world title in 1993.

He broke almost every bone in his body during his career and yet, remarkably, only a few weeks ago at the age of 58, he was back on a bike having a skid at Monmore!

I’ve often wondered why he hasn’t been more involved with Wolverhampton since his racing days ended. Peter Adams remains, without question, one of the most respected managers in the sport on a worldwide basis, but Ermolenko has much to offer in terms of rider coaching.

It’s a smart move to give him this opportunity on Monday and it will be a big test for him and his riders against a Poole side determined to secure their place in the play-offs.

And, speaking of the play-offs, Wolves are still in the chasing pack. Belle Vue’s defeats this week have plunged them into uncertainty with injuries hitting them hard and their lunchtime clash with King’s Lynn on Monday at the National Stadium now becomes massive.

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Defeat there opens the door a little wider for Wolverhampton, who could yet stake a late claim for a shot at the Premiership title.

And as Peter Adams himself has said year after year, it doesn’t matter so much how you are riding in June and July, it’s all about August and September and coming good when it matters most.

But back to Ermolenko. There are many former riders who I feel should still be involved in the sport. I look at British legends like Mark Loram and Joe Screen and the levels of performance they reached.

Even my TV colleague Kelvin Tatum, who won numerous British, Overseas and Commonwealth titles as well as becoming World Long Track Champion, has way more to offer than simply commenting on the box.

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These guys would be great to listen to when it comes to mental preparation.

And nobody was mentally stronger during his racing career than Ermolenko. As a Cradley fan, I loved to hate him. It’s been a pleasure to get to know the man since my days on the terraces and I wish him well for his big night on Monday.

Now, where’s that rule book?

Finally, I’m looking forward to catching up with TT legends John McGuinness and Dean Harrison at the Cleveland Arms in Wolverhampton for a special night in November.

I’m hosting the evening with both on Thursday November 21 – come along and have a great night. Tickets on sale now from the venue or call 01902 451021.

Nigel Pearson

By Nigel Pearson
Columnist - @nigelpearson

Sports broadcaster/writer specialising in Football, Darts and Speedway for Sky Sports, IMG, BT Sport and talkSPORT.

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