Wolves in urgent need of revival

Watford 1 - Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

So now we know the reason why Glenn Hoddle chose to return to football after 15 months away. As the new Wolves manager said, when asked why he had taken on one of the most demanding jobs outside of the Premiership, "getting nearer to Christmas I thought I ain't going to do too much shopping." But while his credit card can take a rest, Hoddle's footballing brain will have to crank into overdrive soon if he is to arrest Wolves' slide down the Championship table, especially given the evidence in the second half at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon.

At least this point, coming after the west midlanders' sorry home defeat to Millwall last Tuesday, the day that Hoddle was appointed, represented some sort of return on his three days in charge.

There was proof, too, that the former England and Chelsea manager, who was sacked from his last job, in charge of Tottenham in September 2003, is going to try and get the men from Molineux back up towards the play-off places without compromising his principles of attempting to play attractive football.

One of those ways is by using a diamond formation in midfield. Hoddle and diamonds go back a long way, to his playing and singing days, when he and Chris Waddle, mullet haircuts included, released their single 'Diamond Lights'.

It is maybe the only occasion that a record has influenced a whole tactical philosophy, but Hoddle has never been shy about doing his own thing. Remember Eileen Drewery, not practising penalties in the World Cup and his misjudged comments about the disabled that also got him the sack from the England job?

After all that the 47-year-old has developed a thick skin. That explains his slightly masochistic air when he said: "It was very good to be back. I was getting a bit of stick from the fans, had a bit of banter with them. There was nothing malicious, it was all good fun." You have to hope for Hoddle's sake, that although he has only joined on a six-month deal to try and conjure up promotion, the stick was from Watford, not Wolves' fans. It took until the 37th minute, just after Seji Olofinjana's smartly-executed equalizing volley, for the visiting support to chant his name. At that stage they were on top, having fallen behind to Heidar Helguson's early strike, but never threatened after the interval.

But at least the players are singing from the same sheet. As Keith Lowe, the promising young full-back, said: "It's brilliant to have someone like him, a former England manager. It's just what the club needed. He's an authority figure. Everybody looks up to him because of what he's done already," sentiments echoed by Dean Sturridge and Keith Andrews.

True success as a manager has eluded Hoddle. He learned his craft at Swindon Town and then he took Chelsea to the 1994 FA Cup final. With England he only reached the last 16 of the 1998 World Cup. He did at least manage to point Southampton up the Premiership in his year there before he went to Spurs.

The delights of this sort of football have also eluded him since he left Swindon 11 years ago and he admitted: "I'm catching up quickly at this level. I've seen quite a few games, albeit on TV. But I'll know the opponents before a game and you can easily pick that up." With Wolves in 17th place, and as near, points-wise, to the relegation zone as the play-offs, it is clear to Hoddle what else he needs to pick up, and soon.

Goals: Helguson (4) 1-0; Olofinjana (35) 1-1

Watford (4-4-2): Lee; Chambers, Cox, Demerit, Darlington; Devlin, Gunnarsson, Mahon, Ardley (Fitzgerald, 86); Helguson, Dyer (Young, 75). Substitutes not used: Chamberlain (gk), Doyley, Blizzard.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Oakes; Lowe, Lescott, Craddock, Naylor; Cooper (Ki-Hyeon, 85), Andrews, Olofinjana, Kennedy; Cort, Sturridge (Miller, 67). Substitutes not used: Murray (gk), Newton, Bjorklund.

Referee: P Armstrong (Berkshire).

Booked: Wolves: Naylor.

Man of the Match: Ardley.

Attendance: 14,605

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