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Doherty fears Wolves pack face very uncertain future

DEAN SAUNDERS paid the price yesterday for the failure at Wolves and lost his job.

And the club's Irish full-back Matt Doherty fears that the players will also pay a high price for the club's slide from the Premier League into the third tier of the English game.

In sacking Saunders and his Irish assistant Brian Carey, the Wolves owners have sent out a clear signal of intent that what's gone on at the club in the recent past cannot be repeated. The next steps in the club's rebuilding process will resonate in Ireland, with four senior Ireland caps on the books (Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward, Stephen Hunt and Kevin Foley) and three others who are as yet uncapped at senior level (highly-rated defender Doherty, keeper Aaron McCarey and winger Anthony Forde).

While the out-of-contract Hunt is certain to leave, it's thought that the club will try to sell on Doyle and Ward, but 21-year-old Doherty has a year left on his contract and Wolves may want to rely on players like him to get them out of League One next season.

But other players, some of whom have now been relegated in successive seasons, could struggle.



"Players will leave the club over the summer, that's inevitable, but I don't think as many will leave as people are expecting," Doherty told The Herald, the defender back home in Dublin on a short break this week.

"Back-to-back relegation may force other clubs to ask if they really want to sign any of our players. It doesn't look good on the CV when you have been relegated and then relegated again.

"Everyone at the club will want to play in the Premier League again if at all possible, but it will be harder than people think. Other clubs are not going to look at Wolves, who have now been relegated twice in two seasons, for players.

"People think it will be easy to leave Wolves and march into a nice contract with a Premier League club, but that's not the case. In my case, I know that other clubs may not want to take a look at me because I'm part of a team that's been relegated."

Doherty, however, predicts that captain Kevin Doyle will not be short of offers.

"Doyler won't have a problem in getting a club if he does want to move and if the club sell him," said Doherty, who made 13 appearances for Wolves after returning to the club from a loan spell with League One strugglers Bury.

"Kevin has been playing really well for us and he was leading the way as club captain for a while. Despite all that's happened, Doyler is still a top class player and he will not find it hard to get a club.

"I know I can't really talk, I played for two clubs this season – I was at Bury on loan as well as playing for Wolves – and they were both relegated. And last season I was on loan to Hibs and they nearly went down from the SPL, maybe I am a bad omen."

Former Bohemians man Doherty was one of the few bright spots in a dismal season for Wolves. Initially sent out on loan to Bury, he was recalled in February and he went straight into the team, as Wolves started to pick up some form, with three wins and a draw in his first six games.

Even as the season entered the final stages, Doherty didn't expect the drop down to League One to happen. "We always thought we would be fine, we didn't really expect to go down, especially after we had a great win over Hull, so maybe we weren't prepared for the battle," he said.

"It just crept up on us and hit us, it was when we lost to Burnley at the end of last month that we knew we were in real trouble. I don't think we realised before that just how serious it was. You don't expect a club like Wolves to go down into League One after being in the Premier League."

The U-21 cap is still content with his efforts for the club this season. "On a personal level, it was a good season for me, I broke into the team and had a good run in the side, but on the other side of things, the team were relegated and you do wonder what part you played, could you have done more?



"We weren't relegated because of what happened in the last 10 games, we were relegated because we were not good enough over the season."

As Wolves take stock and plan a rebirth, they will do so with a new manager. "I was surprised to hear that the club got rid of Dean Saunders yesterday, it was a bit of a shock," added Doherty.

As for his own future, Doherty knows that it's out of his hands. "Anything could happen over the summer, but it's up to Wolves as I am contracted to them for another year," he said.

"Obviously I want to play at the highest level possible and I know that even though we've been relegated to League One, Wolves are still a massive club.

"If I do stay, next season is all about winning promotion and getting out of League One. Wolves are too big a club to be in the third division."