Predictions & Thoughts For The Season Ahead!

Last updated : 27 July 2002 By Steve Hermon
Well the season is two weeks away but seeing as I am going on my holidays for two weeks today I thought I’d give my thoughts on the season ahead in Division One.

am going, where Wolves spent one week of pre-season – Portugal! Although I am much further south than where Dave Jones’ men were. I am actually very lucky as well, because thanks to Sky moving the Bradford game to the Sunday I will now get to see the game, as I get back around early evening on the Saturday, so thank you Sky!

For me the standard of opposition in friendlies i.e. Morecambe, Kettering, Kidderminster and Pub side… Sorry, I meant Second Division side Stockport is not great preparation. Although, Portuguese Top Division sides Sporting Lisbon AND Maritimo (Got it right this time!!) along with Newcastle, a game that I will unfortunately miss, are good sides to play.

The majority of action has probably taken place off the field with the ‘100% Pure Wolves’ campaign in conjunction with the unique billboard, declaring the players ‘100% Effort, Determination and Commitment’ and also the launch of a new kit, made by Admiral and the end of an era as tyre firm Good Year, say goodbye to a long relationship, filled ironically, with mostly bad years, on the field anyway. They have been replaced by…. Doritos! Even though the majority of Wolves fans aren’t happy with the cheesy looking shirt (no pun intended) if we put it in perspective then, if we won the league this year, I don’t think anyone will care who sponsors us.

Compared to last year’s preparations for the season ahead on the field, it has been quiet in the transfer market and we are yet to pay an actual transfer fee for a player, mainly due to a tight budget thanks to the collapse of ITV Digital. Both our captures so far have been on Bosman Free Transfers. Those two players are Ivar Ingimarsson and Dennis Irwin and we are looking to add to the list of Bosman signings by bringing in Marc Edworthy and Russell Howarth.

Icelandic International, Ingimarsson is definitely not a high profile signing, although he does come to us with a good record. He was an ever present for his previous club, Brentford last season and was also voted their Player Of The Year. He is also a slight utility player, as he can play in a central role in defence or midfield. I honestly can’t give a big opinion on him because I am yet to see him play but hopefully he can play his part in getting us to the Promised Land.

As described by Dave Jones, our second capture, Dennis Irwin has a pedigree, which is ‘second to none.’ The former Manchester United and Republic Of Ireland legend is a great signing in my eyes, even if he is 36. Most players have a couple good years at Old Trafford and are then moved on, but Irwin has spent 12 years there, is in the top six for most appearances, making over 500 for the Red Devils, and he can also boast a giant Trophy cabinet, which includes seven Premiership winners medals, FA Cup medals and biggest of them all a European Cup winners medal.

As I said, I think it is an excellent signing and I fully believe every word Irwin said, when he said he wouldn’t have joined if he didn’t think we could win the league and that is what he is here to achieve. I think he truly wants to be here and claim another winners medal.

On to my thoughts whether we can win it or not. When the pre-season fixtures were just kicking-off I was still reeling from last season’s massive disappointment, the boys let us down, and they know they did, but hopefully they can play consistently for the whole season and maybe do it.

At the time of our first pre-season games I kept saying ‘put a bet on us finishing 10th’ because I was thinking that the teams that came down, would probably walk the division and just go straight back up. Also, the signing of Ingimarsson didn’t fill me with confidence just because he is from the lower leagues, but then again, he is only 24, a lower league player is something Sir Jack has wanted because those type of players will always give 110%, unlike prima donna players who have stepped down from the Premier League and just want to earn loads of money. I will name no names; I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Also around that time I noticed that a lot of betting companies had either put us favourites or second favourites and I was shocked. Yes we played well for most of last season but I just thought there were two many good and emerging teams in the league this year that would do better than us.

Since the signing of Dennis Irwin, I have become more enthusiastic. I don’t know how one player can do that, especially when they are 36 but maybe that happens when a big name comes in.

I still believe we aren’t strong enough to win the league, but I plead for the team to prove me wrong! The only way I can see us doing it this year is – Yes you know what I am about to say… The dreaded Play-Offs!!!! I do apologise but I can only see it that way!

So now down to my big predictions!

I think that Derby will win the league because despite money problems they are yet to sell big players who could feature in most Premiership teams. Players like Mart Poom, Chris Riggot, Malcolm Christie, Branko Strupar and Fabrizio Ravenelli, although it will be interesting to see how the latter two adjust to life in the ‘Division From Hell.’

I predict Ipswich to follow them up in 2nd place. They are many people’s favourites to win the league but there aren’t as many big name young players that there used to be, although I’m sure there are many waiting in the ranks, to become the new Richard Wright, Keiron Dyer or Titus Bramble.

I won’t predict a Play-Off winner but I will say the four teams that I think will feature in it come May. In no specific order of positions I think it will be Preston, Wolves, Leicester and the dark horse for everyone this year… Portsmouth. Expect Portsmouth to sneak that sometimes ‘lucky’ 6th place and being my pessimistic self (a characteristic held by the majority if not all Wolves fans) I’d say we’ll finish 5th. As for the other two, I don’t really know. It was a tough prediction, but Preston has a good manager in Craig Brown.

With Leicester, they will go one of two ways; become the new Manchester City, a big team with a big stadium, who go down and down then bounce back with a vengeance, be a Sheffield Wednesday or United and just rot in this division or ‘do a Sunderland’ where they get relegated and spend their first season with a new stadium in Division One. I predict the Foxes to do the latter. They won’t win the league though, but may suffer the same fate first of losing on penalties, hopefully to us, which would mean them finishing third. Yes I know I said I wouldn’t predict positions or winners for the play-offs but while writing I have started to dream so it looks like I have dreamt up semi-final meetings between Leicester and Portsmouth and ourselves vs. Preston, with us beating Leicester in the final!

I perhaps have gone to far, because being realistic or pessimistic (one of the two, ha ha!) I think we are destined for another year in this league! Aaaaaah!!!!!! Sorry!!!

On the subject of who is going down, I don’t care, because I will only be looking up!!! That said, I would like our neighbours Walsall to stay up again.

Don’t expect any great cup runs, although at the end of the day, if we went up, would we be bothered that Swansea beat us in the 1st Round of the League Cup or even if Bognor Regis FC beat us in the FA Cup 3rd Round?!!

With my predictions, I really hope it is just pessimism and that the lads will prove me wrong and WILL reach the Promised Land!!!

To be honest, the way it was thrown away last year, they owe it to all of us to go out and win that league by a record margin, whoops dreaming again!


See you all in two weeks, but feel free to e-mail with your predictions and general thoughts at the usual address below.