Darryl thrown by the Wolves

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The Independent Online

Darryl Van De Velde will leave the bed of nails that is Warrington at the end of this season viewing his five years in charge as a failure.

Van de Velde has announced that he is quitting his job as coach and is also planning to cut his other links with a club where he is also a director and a substantial shareholder ­ and he will not depart with that comfortable feeling of having achieved what he wanted to. "In five years, we should have won a trophy," he says. "That's the bottom line."

Despite occasional dazzling performances such as ending Bradford's unbeaten run last year and beating Wigan last Friday, the Wolves have never looked remotely like winning a trophy. It has not been for want of trying. Recruiting players of the calibre of Allan Langer, Andrew Gee and Tawera Nikau was ambitious, but the balance of the squad and the chemistry within it have never been quite right.

Van de Velde could not have realised quite how parlous Warrington's finances would become, how vexed the question of moving to a new stadium would turn out to be, or how little the big-name signings would leave in the kitty for more modest team-building. He can also hardly have predicted the atrocious luck he has had, with players failing to arrive, leaving early, suffering injury or bereavement or, in the case of David Highton this week, being suspended for drug abuse. "We've had some bad luck, but I'm not hiding behind that," says Van de Velde. "You make your own luck."

All that remains for the former Castleford and Huddersfield coach before he returns to his native Australia is to finish his reign on as high a note as possible. If the Wolves could sustain the form they showed against Wigan last week for the rest of the programme, starting at Salford tonight, they would make the play-offs. What Van de Velde knows, however, is that they are most unlikely to show that consistency.

The question then is what Warrington will do next. Van de Velde, who has announced his intention early to give them time to make the right appointment, leans to the view that they should look for an up-and-comer. "They need a younger man, with the hunger and the passion," he says.

The alternative, and one the board may have explored, would be to bring in the sacked Wigan coach, Frank Endacott, who would at least cheer up a club who have had little enough to smile about.