Wolverhampton Wanderers opted for pedigree over potential yesterday when they named Glenn Hoddle's successor as manager, bringing in Mick McCarthy, who led the Republic of Ireland to the last 16 of the World Cup in 2002, rather than promoting the supporters' choice, Paul Ince, from the playing ranks.
McCarthy, 49, was on holiday in Portugal when he learnt of his new challenge, which starts with a friendly at Crewe Alexandra next Wednesday. "There's a big job to do at Wolves and I'm relishing the challenge," he said. "With two weeks to go before the new season, there's lots to be done. It's going to be a busy time, but an exciting one."
His previous post, at Sunderland, ended in the sack last March. However, his feats in the two previous seasons - in which he led the Wearside club to third in the Championship and then to first place - gave McCarthy the edge as Wolves assessed his credentials against a field that included two internal candidates, Ince and assistant manager Stuart Gray.
Jez Moxey, the Championship club's chief executive, described those achievements as "one of the most impressive managerial jobs I've seen in this division". He argued that the Yorkshireman had also "conducted himself admirably" last season before he was dismissed by Sunderland as their long-inevitable relegation from the Premiership loomed.
McCarthy, according to Moxey, possessed the "personal qualities" Wolves sought in that he was "principled, forthright and hard-working". He added: "Football clubs look at things like that, just as much as they notice the managers who bitch and complain when they are in fabulous jobs but moaning about not having enough money."
Sir Jack Hayward, the club's president, owner and veteran of numerous bright, and often false, new managerial dawns at Molineux, could not resist a parting shot at Hoddle, remarking that it "would have been nice" if the former England coach had "gone earlier" than 1 July. Hoddle resigned citing a lack of financial resources after the termination of the "parachute" payments which clubs receive for two seasons after being relegated from the Premiership.
McCarthy, whose stints in charge of Millwall and Sunderland were scarcely characterised by free-spending, will arrive barely 12 days before the opening Championship fixture, away to Plymouth Argyle on 5 August. Despite the time pressures, Hayward was confident his "track record and experience" would prove invaluable.
Ince could point to neither of those attributes, and Moxey acknowledged that the former England captain might be unsettled by the changed circumstances. "We were really, really impressed with Paul, who was very positive," he said. "He has the qualities that will make him a great manager in the future. Under different circumstances I think we could easily have offered him the job."
Hayward accepted "a lot of people" would be disappointed Wolves had not gambled on Ince, who had been "excellent in his interview". The sensitivities of the 38-year-old midfielder's position are acute because he has been delaying signing a new deal until Hoddle's replacement was known. Moxey said: "We've offered Paul a playing contract which he wouldn't commit to until the new manager was appointed. Mick is aware of the situation, so we'll leave them to sit down and talk about it."
Gray will supervise Wolves in their friendly at Swansea City today, but will then leave the club after seeing his application for the managership overlooked. Hayward reflected that Gray would make "a great manager" and "another club will be lucky to have him". But he said: "We believe we have made the right choice."
McCarthy's deputy will be Ian Evans, his No 2 with Millwall, Ireland and Sunderland. Hoddle's chief scout, George Foster, has left, along with Carl Hoddle, the former manager's brother, who held a coaching and scouting brief.
The new regime's first signing was made even before the manager's identity was revealed. Gary Breen, a McCarthy stalwart with Sunderland and Ireland, joined on a free transfer 24 hours before the announcement was made.
McCarthy's management record
1991: Succeeded Bruce Rioch as player-manager. 1994: Steered Millwall to third place in First Division, but beaten in play-off semi-final.
* REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
1996: Appointed Jack Charlton's successor.
Failed to qualify for France 98 and Euro 2000.
2001: Qualified for 2002 World Cup. Captain Roy Keane sent home before tournament. Ireland lose second-round penalty shoot-out to Spain.
2003: Appointed manager in March. Relegated in May. 2005: Promoted to Premiership.
2006: Sacked in March.Reuse content