Commentary: Megson adds new twist to Wolves' tale of discontent

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 - Nottingham Forest 1
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The Independent Football

As a self-styled "suit", Jez Moxey probably never expected to hear his name chanted by the South Bank at Molineux. When it happened, early in Wolverhampton Wanderers' defeat of Nottingham Forest, it was not exactly a song of praise.

As a self-styled "suit", Jez Moxey probably never expected to hear his name chanted by the South Bank at Molineux. When it happened, early in Wolverhampton Wanderers' defeat of Nottingham Forest, it was not exactly a song of praise.

At many clubs, the chief executive is a faceless administrator. Not at Wolves. When Dave Jones was sacked as manager last week, it was the corpulent and corporate Moxey who fronted up the decision with the chairman, Rick Hayward. He also refused to rule out the prospect of Gary Megson, previously of West Bromwich Albion, succeeding Jones. Hence Saturday's cry of "Stand up if you hate Moxey", followed by anatomical advice about where he might "stick" Megson.

As Wolves began to dominate, the dissenters stopped scanning the directors' box for Megson's thinning ginger thatch. The more observant would have spotted the former England striker Mick Harford, who starts work at Forest today, not to supplant Joe Kinnear as manager but to support him as coach as the former European Cup winners strive to escape the Championship relegation zone.

Harford's arrival is non-controversial. Nothing, however, is ever that straightforward with Wolves, where Moxey noted poetically that "pressure cascades down [from the stands] to the pitch". He describes himself as "thick-skinned" - at Stoke City he was dubbed "the Fat Controller" - but he may need a rhino's hide if the club's hierarchy opt to fly in the face of terrace opinion.

"We have to appoint the man we genuinely believe is in the best interests of the club, the team, everybody," Moxey said. Did the crowd's reaction rule out Megson? "No, look. I don't want to get too drawn on one particular person. I can't comment on hypothetical potential candidates. But we do take on board fans' feelings and listen to what they say."

If the bottom line for Wolves is to find a manager who can win matches and take them into the Premiership, Megson's credentials are unrivalled. His style of football may not be to everyone's taste, yet in his three full seasons at this level, Albion won automatic promotion twice and reached the play-offs once.

As if he had been rehearsing the arguments, Moxey asked: "Where did Steve Bull come from?". The answer, of course, is Albion. "When I worked at Rangers," he added, "Maurice Johnston was the archetypal enemy. If you could have thought of one man who stood for Celtic, it was him. But he moved across and did well."

If parochialism wins out over pragmatism, Wolves could turn to Micky Adams, John Gregory or Glenn Hoddle now that Albion have ruled him out. Among the unusual suspects are Carlos Carvalhal of the Portuguese club Belenenses and Stuart Baxter, South Africa's Wolverhampton-born manager.

Nor should the caretaker-manager, Stuart Gray, be completely discounted. "I don't think I need to apply," said Gray, a Forest player under Brian Clough. "They know where I am and have my CV on record. But it's a very attractive job. I'd imagine there will be some top names wanting it."

Wolves did Gray proud and bore out the board's belief that a top-six finish remains within reach. Kevin Cooper, the unsung hub of most of their better moves, put them ahead from a penalty and emulated Carl Cort by hitting the woodwork. In between, David Johnson equalised and Marlon King missed badly for Forest before the on-loan Manchester City defender Mikkel Bischoff, Jones' last signing, redeemed his jittery start by heading the winner.

The result returned Forest to second from bottom, making 17th-placed Wolves look comfortable by comparison. Kinnear, having presided over only two defeats in 17 matches to beat the drop last season, has delivered two wins in 18 this time. At the last home game, there were calls for Nigel Doughty, the chairman, to resign. A lacklustre second-half performance here hinted at further turmoil ahead unless Harford can prove a catalyst for recovery.

The newcomer could start by mending relations with the media - and by extension, the club's fans - by resuming post-match briefings. Bizarrely, Kinnear holds the press responsible for the negativity enveloping Forest, a case of blame-projection which makes the scapegoating of Moxey look rational by comparison.

Goals: Cooper pen (19) 1-0; Johnson (25) 1-1; Bischoff (43) 2-1.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Oakes; Lowe, Bischoff, Lescott, Naylor; Newton, Olofinjana, Cameron, Cooper; Miller (Sturridge, 84), Cort. Substitutes not used: Murray (gk), Craddock, Andrews, Ince.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Gerrard; Louis-Jean (Perch, h-t), Dawson, Morgan, Rogers; Thompson (Jess, 84), Nowland (Commons, 73), Evans, Reid; King, Johnson. Substitutes not used: Roche (gk), Robertson.

Referee: M Ryan (Lancashire).

Booked: Wolves: Lescott. Nottingham Forest: Louis-Jean, Evans, Thompson.

Man of the match: Cooper.

Attendance: 27,605.