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Ward: 'We threw boss to Wolves'

AS a Welshman replaces a Norwegian to take over at a troubled English football club, that club's long-serving Irishman says it's the players at Wolves who need to take the blame for their plight.

But Stephen Ward maintains that the current crop of Wolves players have enough heart and hunger to get the midlands side out of the mire which has enveloped Molineux in recent months, Ward believing that the club are still suffering a "hangover" from their relegation from the Premier League.

From the highs of Premier League football, Wolves are on a major downward spiral at the moment, seventh from bottom of the Championship table and embarrassingly dumped out of the FA Cup last weekend, factors which prompted the dismissal of Norwegian coach Stale Solbakken earlier this week and his replacement with Dean Saunders. Those summer plans of an instant return to the Premier League appear to be wide of the mark as the aim for Wolves now is to avoid being dragged into the mire of the relegation zone, which is only six points away.

Ward, now in his seventh season with the club, feels the plight of the fans and admits that the recently dismissed manager is not entirely to blame.

"We're very disappointed to be where we are. We should be a lot higher than this in the league table," Ward told the Herald as Saunders gets to work with his squad and prepares them for Friday's clash with fellow strugglers Blackburn.

"It's never nice to see a manager lose his job and I feel that as a group of players we have let Stale down. But football moves on very quickly and all we can do now is get behind the new manager, because I feel we have the players to get out of trouble.

"Every manager has his own ways and methods and Stale was like that, but I don't think it was anything he did that caused us problems. Maybe we had a hangover from last season when we were relegated and that carried on, that has now cost the manager his job.

"So we have a new boss in charge now and we have to try and do a better job for him and for the club. I don't know too much about Dean Saunders but Dave Edwards and Wayne Hennessy worked with him in the Welsh squad and they rate him very highly. He's very passionate and confident about what we can do here. We let the last manager down and we can't let this manager down," says Ward.

It must have been a concern for the current squad to hear Saunders say after his appointment that changes - big changes - were needed to the squad but Ward feels that a mass clearout is not on the cards.

"I think the new manager will want to bring in some of his own players, some of the players have been there a long time. Speaking for myself I love the club and I love being there and I don't want to go anywhere else," Ward says.

"I don't think we'll see a big clearout in the squad. I think the manager's comments were maybe blown out of proportion.

"He said that he will make changes but I think the squad here is good enough to get out of trouble and at least stay in this league, so we have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get on with the business of winning matches.

"I don't honestly think we will go down another division. You always have to be honest about your league position , but I genuinely feel we can get out of the position we are in.

"Everyone knows how strange the Championship can be and if we win just one game, we could easily go on a run. We haven't been good enough but we can get higher in the league."