Connor the graduate must keep his distance

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The Independent Football

If a football manager's career is precarious, that of his coaches and assistants can be even more so. Once a manager is sacked, or even decides to resign, his staff are quite likely to be shown the door as well, however little responsibility they may bear.

At least Terry Connor, who takes Wolves to Fulham today for his second successive away game as temporary manager, knows he can do something about his own fate. His progress will be watched with particular interest by Colchester United's John Ward, the mentor who first gave Connor a leg up at Bristol Rovers almost 20 years ago.

"He was the community officer, working with schools and doing some coaching," Ward said. "I saw him working and liked what I saw. So when Dennis Booth, my assistant, went to Huddersfield I appointed Terry and he did very well for us. He was very committed, worked long hours and wanted to get qualifications, and it turned out he was a very good coach."

They later moved to Bristol City together and after Ward joined Wolves he recommended Connor as a development coach to work with young players such as Joleon Lescott.

When Wolves' recruitment ofa successor to Mick McCarthy ground to a halt they gave the popular assistant his chance. Despite a fighting 2-2 draw at Newcastle, Ward says it is a very different job: "It's the transition from being everybody's mate as a coach and assistant to having to make decisions on players he's been very close to.

"I see he did it the very first game and left [Roger] Johnson out. So there's no reason why he shouldn't do well because he's had a lot of experience of dealing with people. I just hope he can keep that smile on his face."

Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 2.05pm