Anger and discontent are familiar feelings at Molineux. Half a lifetime’s been spent hearing opponents talk of keeping the home crowd quiet and waiting for them to turn. After a while, there’s little choice but to warm to this mood of malevolence and take perverse pride in it.
We’ve seen off two England managers, for starters. Graham Taylor’s ‘Impossible Job’ saw him depicted as a vegetable but he was more likely to have them thrown at him after losing 4-1 to Stoke. Substituting Gary Lineker is one thing but dropping Steve Bull is quite another.
As for Glenn Hoddle, some still call for his England return, but there’s little appetite for a Wolverhampton comeback. Tougher crowd, you see. However, recent times have given rise to a far more dangerous element in the air. That curse of the lower-league classes: apathy.
That’s the word to sum up last season. Supporters had stopped caring and those were just the ones who were still turning up. The average attendance at Molineux last season was still a shade over 20,000, but that’s the lowest for 15 years.
Of course, it’s no coincidence that it’s also 15 years since the club last had a season in which the prospect of neither promotion nor relegation could be entertained beyond the winter months. Excite me, disappoint me, but whatever you do, don’t bore me.
Kenny Jackett is the sort of character who’ll run that risk with his sensible shoes and mild-mannered interviews. And yet, he was precisely what the club needed for much of his three years in charge. But a dull situation coupled with duller football makes for a bad blend.
There were four consecutive goalless draws to test the patience of the dwindling crowds at Molineux earlier this year. The last of which, against Rotherham, came two years to the week since a 6-4 win over the same opposition on the same ground had sealed promotion.
The trip to Rotherham for the opening day of this season was a very different occasion. There on the Wolves bench was legendary Italian goalkeeper Walter Zenga, testing out more formations in half an hour than Jackett had done in three years.
Not sure about the 3-4-2, Walter, but coming from two goals down and equalising with 10 men was fun. It was an appropriately chaotic start to the post-takeover world: Wolves are now owned by Fosun, a Chinese investment group, who have already brought in Benfica duo Helder Costa and Joao Teixeira on loan, Silvio from Atletico Madrid, and Iceland’s Euro 2016 striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
If the presence of so-called super-agent Jorge Mendes in South Yorkshire on Saturday is anything to go by then they’re going to be chucking plenty more cash around the place too. As the fans on the South Bank are already fond of putting it, we’re fucking rich.
It’s not taken long for many to get giddy. Anderson Talisca? Not heard of him until a fortnight ago, but never wanted anyone more. Wilfried Bony? Utterly ludicrous, but let’s pencil him in. The mere mention of new signings has minds racing.
“We’ll be very lucky if we copy Leicester,” admits Fosun’s Jeff Shi but the seeds are sown. Much like Brexit Britain – and 63 per cent of Wolverhampton voted to leave, by the way – asking whether it’s deliverable is frowned upon. The appetite for change is insatiable.
In truth, there does seem to be some sense behind this takeover. Outgoing chief executive Jez Moxey, never one to tell a self-effacing anecdote, admittedly, claimed that the Football League had welcomed the deal precisely because it was so professional.
“This is very different from acquisitions we’ve seen,” said Moxey. “Fosun is an investment company and sees Wolves as a shrewd investment.” He described it as “strategic business decision” by “long-term investors”. In other words, Fosun fancy they can turn a profit.
They will be investing north of £30m into a debt-free club with a Category One academy and a 30,000-seater stadium. If that can take Wolves into the Premier League, accessing the broadcasting riches that come with it, there is a distinct possibility of them making money.
Do they have the expertise to pull it off? Shi admits he doesn’t have the football knowledge. As a result, Mendes’s presence – Shi describes him as “one of our agents” – is as troubling as it is exciting. Is the plan to make money by promotion or as a warehouse for his clients?
The appointment of Zenga is alarming too. Four of his last five jobs were in the Gulf and the other lasted only 13 games. If the goal really is promotion “as soon as possible” then it’s logical to think Steve Bruce’s track record could have delivered that with a minimum of fuss.
But so what? Maybe a bit of fuss is what’s needed now at Molineux. Fosun, pronounced fu-sin, means renaissance in Chinese. “Maybe it’s the time for Wolves’ renaissance,” wondered Shi. It’s in his hands now. Apathy? Well, that’s long gone.