One can forgive Wolves fans for not getting too excited by Glenn Hoddle's first Molineux game. While Dario Gradi has worked wonders on a shoestring budget at Crewe for nearly 22 years, Wolves have had 15 miserable managers in the same period.
They are on their third since August: "The Dumb Waiter" (Dave Jones) closed not long into the season; "The Caretaker" (Stuart Gray) had an even shorter run; so no wonder many went shopping yesterday even though the Wolves board assured fans that Hoddle's starring role in the "The Homecoming" would last at least the length of his six-month contract.
Hoddle has predicted that Wolves can be a Premiership side again by next season and boasted pre-match "the season starts now". That meant he expected a win but both he, his players and supporters underestimated football's perennial over- achievers. So, just another change of name at Wolves, the same poor show, but not as bad an ending as feared. That was thanks to Carl Cort's 90th-minute equaliser. Hoddle has not danced with such passion since he last appeared on Top of the Pops.
Wolves, though out to impress their new boss in time for a Christmas bonus, started with the lack of confidence that comes with just one win in five games. So it was Crewe, winning freely and undefeated in five, who nearly took the lead when Dean Ashton went close with an early shot.
Wolves' nerves settled soon after and they began to dominate the game without being particularly threatening. Keith Andrews had a shot not too far wide from a free-kick and Kenny Miller made a hash of one good chance from a Shaun Newton cross and headed against a post from another.
Clayton Ince otherwise had a quiet time in Crewe's goal, almost as quiet as the Wolves fans, who had not broken into song by half-time.
"Dario Gradi is a football genius," the Crewe crew proudly chanted behind Ince's goal. There was no response from Wolves on behalf of Hoddle. The regulars seemed to notice an improvement in their team's passing, but compared to what?
Goal machine Ashton showed them all how to do it when he gave Crewe a lead they just about deserved when he turned in David Vaughan's 38th-minute freekick for his 19th goal of the season and 10th in eight games.
Whatever Hoddle said at half-time, it did not prevent Crewe from going straight back on the attack. But their good start came to nothing and Ince, properly called into action for the first time, made a good save from a Cort header.
Hoddle decided he would have more influence barking orders from pitchside throughout the second half and his presence seemed to lift spirits around the ground.
Hoddle gradually introduced all three of his substitutes, but initially with little return. It was Crewe's impressive Ashton who still caught the eye with a 79th-minute shot that crashed against the bar.
Then the fourth official signalled for three added minutes and one of the subs, Ki-Hyeon Seol, crossed to Cort who scored with a powerful header despite having to dive away from goal to connect.
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