Wolverhampton Wanderers have put their faith in former Norway international and FC Copenhagen manager Ståle Solbakken to get them back into the Premier League at the first time of asking following their relegation. His appointment as Wolves manager has for many (including some of the Wolves players, it seems) come from somewhere left of ‘left field’.
The 44 year old will be formally introduced to the media at the club on Monday and will officially take over the post on the 1st of July, leaving caretaker boss, Terry Connor, to oversee the club’s last match of what’s been a dismal season at Wigan on Sunday.
Solbakken arrives with an impressive managerial record: he’s a former manager of the year in his native Norway and lead FC Copenhagen to five Danish championships in six years. He also has Champions League experience where a win over Manchester United in 2006 and a draw against Barcelona in 2010 stand out.
Most recently, however, Solbakken was sacked by Cologne last month after an inauspicious first season in Germany’s Bundesliga that later saw the club relegated.
On his appointment at Wolves, Solbakken said in a statement, "I am delighted to be taking up the important challenge to manage Wolves. It's an exciting opportunity to manage a great club and I can't wait to get started."
Solbakken replaces Mick McCarthy who was sacked in February with Terry Connor and current Birmingham boss, Chris Hughton, among those thought to be in the frame for the job. It’s understood Connor will stay on as part of the backroom staff.
A former international player for Norway, Solbakken had a brief stint playing in England for Wimbledon in the late 90’s and was coached by the former West Bromwich Albion manager and current England boss, Roy Hodgson, at FC Copenhagen. His playing career was ended in 2001 after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the training ground in Denmark. He was subsequently fitted with a pacemaker.
Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey is pleased to have secured the signature of Solbakken with the Wolves players told about the appointment at the club's training ground on Friday morning after which several admitted they had not heard of their new boss.
Wolves Chairman Steve Morgan will hope he is quick to make a name for himself and has already promised funds will be made available to try to restore Wolves to the top flight at the first time of asking. But the appointment of a manager virtually unknown to fans represents a big gamble for Wolves and for Morgan. The first challenge facing Solbakken will be holding on to the club’s top players while getting to grips with the rough and tumble of English Championship football. To that end, his albeit brief spell with Wimbledon, may well come in useful.