Hoddle has six months to revive Wolves

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The Independent Football

Glenn Hoddle's latest incarnation as a manager proved a curious affair yesterday, Wolverhampton Wanderers effectively appointing him as temporary manager in place of the caretaker manager, Stuart Gray, who will stay at Molineux as assistant to the former England coach.

Glenn Hoddle's latest incarnation as a manager proved a curious affair yesterday, Wolverhampton Wanderers effectively appointing him as temporary manager in place of the caretaker manager, Stuart Gray, who will stay at Molineux as assistant to the former England coach.

Hoddle, who has been out of the game since what he termed the "rash decision" by Tottenham Hotspur to sack him 15 months ago, has signed only a six-month contract with Wolves. He succeeds Dave Jones, exactly as he did at Southampton, with the tall order of taking a side who have spent the first half of the season at the lower end of the Championship into the Premiership by the time the arrangement expires next May.

Ironically, it is precisely the deal which Wolves' local rivals, West Bromwich Albion, refused to give Hoddle after they identified him as the man to replace Gary Megson in October. When pressed as to whether Wolves' supporters would view the duration as a case of his "cynically keeping his hand in", he insisted the idea had come from the club.

Jez Moxey, the chief executive who spearheaded Wolves' five-week quest for their sixth manager in 10 years, praised Hoddle's "courage" in agreeing to their short-term plan, which he characterised as "the Bolton principle".

Drawing an analogy with Sam Allardyce's incentivised recruitment policy, Moxey said: "Instead of giving players a four-year contract, he gives them 12 months and says: 'Keep us in the Premier League and we'll give you another year. You're on big money and if you keep us up, we'll have the money to pay you for another year'."

Wolves have negligible funds available for new signings after Sir Jack Hayward, the owner, decided the £60m he had invested in his home-town club was enough. Hoddle, back at a level he left when he uprooted from Swindon Town to Chelsea in 1993, has accepted he is more likely to be bringing in players on loan than buying them.

He will receive a substantial bonus if he achieves his aim of restoring Wolves to the Premiership a year after they were relegated, though he insisted his move to the Midlands was not financially motivated. "I'm very excited about the potential here. This is a Premiership club in all but name. They've had a taste of it and they want to get back there.

"Some people might think I'm taking a big chance, putting my reputation on the line. But with the squad, the stadium and the fan base, and having got to know Jez and the chairman [Rick Hayward] - as well as already knowing Stuart [Gray] from working well together at Southampton - I just felt the circumstances were right to achieve success. But it doesn't necessarily end at the end of this contract. If we just missed out on promotion and everyone was happy, then it could go on."

Besides, Hoddle might have added, six months is preferable to six matches, which is all Tottenham allowed him last season. Being fired by the club he served with such distinction as a player clearly still rankles. "I scratch my head a bit over what happened because I'd just bought [Fredi] Kanouté to partner [Robbie] Keane, but they never even played together for me," he said, adding pointedly: "Looking at what Spurs have done since, it was probably a rash decision."

Hoddle admitted he had missed the fray. He was due to work as a summariser for Sky on their Champions' League coverage last night, but instead assessed his new charges from the stand as Gray directed Wolves in their home fixture against Millwall. "It's nice when you first come out of football because you see a bit of the family and you can work on getting your golf handicap down," he said. "But if you're a football man, you're itching to get back. There's no bigger challenge than the England job, but this is a massive test in its own way."

Wolves are actually better placed than Crystal Palace, who lay 20th when they installed Iain Dowie last Christmas and who are now in the Premiership. "There are still enough points to be won and lost," Hoddle maintained. "If we can put a run together and become the most consistent team in what is an inconsistent division, we've got a great chance."

Moxey claimed Hoddle not only "fits our criteria better than anyone" but was a prime target when Jones left. Back then, Hoddle explained, the "timing wasn't right" (he was a favourite for the West Bromwich job) which prompted Wolves to ponder the credentials of other candidates. Harry Redknapp, Sir Bobby Robson, Gordon Strachan, Ian Holloway, Micky Adams, John Gregory, Mike Newell, the South Africa coach Stuart Baxter, Megson and Gray were either interviewed or discussed, not to mention two Portuguese and a Romanian.

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