McGhee the new man at Molineux

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The Independent Online
Mark McGhee took charge of Wolverhampton Wanderers yesterday and promptly called for a "transfer" system for managers that would have made his own defection from Leicester more difficult.

"It's something I feel strongly about," McGhee said after he was confirmed as Graham Taylor's successor on a three and a half year contract. "A player's contract is registered with the FA and the Football League, and he can't walk out on it.

"It's time managers' contracts were dealt with the same way. In a sense it was too easy for me to leave Leicester. Clubs should be able to come in and offer, say, pounds 1m for a manager, and if that fails, pounds 2m, and so on, just as they would with a player."

McGhee said he left Leicester because he was starting to "outgrow" them, as he had Reading a year earlier. He understood supporters' resentment but claimed that the move to Molineux, where he is joined by his assistant Colin Lee and coach Mike Hickman, was motivated by professionalism rather than greed.

"I said to myself, do I wait three or four years and risk not getting another chance, or do I take the job? It was a career decision. The only problem is it's come earlier than I anticipated."

What guarantee did Wolves have that he would not ditch them? "This club can fulfil every ambition I have, in terms of the stadium, training ground, crowds, playing potential and the financial backing. If I do the job properly there's no reason why I shouldn't stay a long time, unless they didn't want me."

Asked whether he had shown his previous employers a lack of loyalty, the 38-year-old Glaswegian said: "Football's a business - it's about professionalism. My last game for Aberdeen was a cup final. Next day I joined Hamburg but I gave them 100 per cent. I left Reading and Leicester better off than I found them. The loyalty I'll show Wolves is giving 150 per cent to put a winning team out."

McGhee, who finds Taylor's expensively assembled side 20th in the First Division, said the squad had been "under-achieving" but could still make the play-offs. He would trim the 37-strong playing staff to raise money, although Jonathan Hayward, the chairman, pledged that funds would be available.

Hayward, who insisted Wolves had acted honourably, was first drawn to McGhee's qualities when Reading "played us off the park" 18 months ago. "He brings a style of play that's been missing, which the fans are crying out to see. It's also a winning style."

One of McGhee's rivals at the wrong end of the First Division will be Howard Kendall, 49, who yesterday was appointed successor to Dave Bassett at Sheffield United. His contract will keep him at Bramall Lane until the end of next season.

Kendall, winner of two championships, an FA Cup and the European Cup- Winners' Cup with Everton, has adhered to modern convention by bringing in his own backroom staff. Adrian Heath, a player under Kendall at Stoke and Everton, is assistant manager while Viv Busby, a former Blade and another with a Stoke connection, will be coach.

"I've had several offers to manage clubs, some abroad and some in this country," Kendall, who has been out of work since leaving Notts County in April, said, "but none has matched the potential of Sheffield United. I came here because there is an ambitious chairman who will allow me to manage a club in the manner I believe in.

"I'm not 50 yet and I think I have something to offer. I have been accused of looking miserable before but I should have a huge grin on my face because I'm absolutely delighted to be back with a great club like this."

A great club by tradition maybe, but Kendall takes over with the team second bottom in the division. He has a chequered history, too, after leaving Notts County with the chairman there claiming he had a drink problem. He has since gone teetotal and has lost more than two stone in weight.

He intends to shed a player or two as well, as the playing staff at Bramall Lane approaches 40. "I've been promised money to spend," he said, "although I want to give all the players here a chance first. I hope they will be motivated. If they are not motivated by a new management team then they probably should not be here anyway.

"The League position is not what it should be so that's the No 1 priority. We have to build the players' confidence and find a position of safety. After that we'll take it from there."

One of the first items on Kendall's agenda will be to turn down a pounds 750,000 bid from Bolton Wanderers for their leading goalscorer, Nathan Blake, who they value at twice that price.

"Our approach was made to Dave Bassett," Bolton's manager, Roy McFarland, said, "although their chairman, Mike McDonald, is fully aware of it and will consider it at board level."

Oldham Athletic are to ask Manchester City for an extension of Michel Vonk's loan while negotiations for a permanent transfer continue. A fee of pounds 300,000 has been agreed for the Dutch central defender and the delay is over personal terms.