Football Kicks Off: New burdens weigh heavily upon Taylor: Wolves in the spotlight

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Wolverhampton Wanderers. . .1

Reading. . . . . . . . . . .0

THE MEASURE of success depends on a combination of things - history, the starting point and expectation. On all counts the odds are stacked against Graham Taylor achieving unqualified acclaim as Wolves manager by May.

Taylor knows that he is still under the spotlight, critics ready to pounce at any sign that his trying time with England has dulled the talents he displayed in club management before the higher call lured him away.

He also knows that only reaching the Premiership will count as success. The stage is set. The stadium is magnificent, the money has been there - if not on the scale of Newcastle and Blackburn - and the support is there, bursting for glory and bursting Molineux at the seams. All Taylor has to do is to produce a champion team. That is all.

The opening First Division encounter on Saturday was successful in terms of the result. An early goal from Steve Froggatt, one of Taylor's new signings, proved to be enough to see off Reading, but the performance was not met with approval among the Wanderers' fans. After all, who are Reading?

The Berkshire club have a humble history of journeying between the lower divisions. But under a promising young manager, Mark McGhee, with promising young players, notably the goalkeeper Shaka Hislop and the centre-back Adrian Williams, they are on the up. The similarities are there with Watford under Taylor all those years ago.

Wolves under Taylor do not have the luxury of setting their own targets and the tension of expectation was there to see as Wolves threw themselves into attack at the start on Saturday. They could have scored before their 11th-minute strike. Hislop, of whom McGhee expects great things, had demonstrated his ability when turning David Kelly's header over the top, before Darren Ferguson, set up by Kelly and Steve Bull, hit a shot he could not hold. The ball fell kindly for Froggatt.

Then Bull succumbed to the lingering effects of an old hamstring problem, and Geoff Thomas's lack of match fitness after an 11-month absence from midfield began to show. Reading exploited shortcomings in that area, and in the end they should have had a point. Mike Stowell made excellent saves from Stuart Lovell and Simon Osborn, one of Reading's three new boys, and Jimmy Quinn uncharacteristically squandered a close-range chance three minutes from time by shooting over.

An equaliser would have been awkward for Taylor. The promising displays by Froggatt on the left and the 19-year-old Jonathan Smith at right-back would not have cut much ice without the three points to go with them.

With only one automatic promotion place available, Taylor knows there is no margin for error and the team must improve. That needs time and he does not have much of that.

Goal: Froggatt (11).

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Stowell; Smith, Emblen, Shirtliff, Thompson; Keen, Ferguson, Thomas, Froggatt; Bull (Mills, 12), Kelly. Substitutes not used: Venus, Jones (gk).

Reading (4-4-2): Hislop; Bernal, Wdowczyk (Hopkins, 71), Williams, Kerr; Parkinson, Gooding, Osborn, Taylor (Gilkes, 65); Quinn, Lovell. No goalkeeper substitute named.

Referee: E Parker (Preston).