Relegated Wolves sack Saunders

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has admitted that Hatem Ben
Arfa is playing through the pain barrier in a bid to aid the club’s
survival bid.

Pardew took a gamble on Ben Arfa’s fitness by starting him in
last weekend’s goalless draw at West Ham.

Ben Arfa has been blighted with hamstring problems this season
which have restricted him to just 20 appearances in all
competitions.

Pardew is prepared to take a risk on Ben Arfa’s fitness as he
feels the Frenchman can make the difference in their battle to
avoid relegation.

“Ben Arfa has been struggling. This hamstring has a slight
weakness in there and it won’t even be strong I don’t think for
six, seven weeks,” noted Pardew.

“We got a great level of fitness out of him in terms of that
particular problem. He was terrific at West Ham, and he’s a match
winner.

“We’ve been bringing him on in the second half but started him
at the weekend and we missed him when we took him off. We missed
that little thrust.

“I think for Hatem another week’s work will get him closer. Goal
scoring is what wins games, we’ve got to improve that area for next
week, including with Hatem.”

Saunders, 48, replaced Stale Solbakken in January, but won just
five of his 20 games in charge and could not prevent Wolves from
dropping into npower League One, the club’s second successive
relegation.

The Midlands club lost five of their last six matches of the
season and former Doncaster boss Saunders is followed out of
Molineux by Carey.

A statement released on Monday morning on the club’s website
read: “Manager Dean Saunders has been informed by Wolves that his
contract is to be terminated.

“The decision has been made following confirmation of Wolves’
relegation to npower League One. Assistant manager Brian Carey will
also be leaving the club.

“Wolves have now begun a recruitment process, which, in
conjunction with the board, will be managed by head of football
development and recruitment Kevin Thelwell.

“The club will now take as long as is necessary to make this
crucial appointment and there will be no publicly communicated
timescales.

“Wolves would like to thank Dean and Brian for their efforts in
what has been a very difficult period for everyone, and wish them
both the very best for the future.

“The club will be making no further comment at this stage.”

Wolves owner Steve Morgan sacked Mick McCarthy, who had spent
five and a half years in charge, in February last year with the
club struggling at the bottom end of the Barclays Premier
League.

McCarthy’s assistant Terry Connor was appointed until the end of
that season, but Wolves were relegated to the npower Championship
with three games remaining.

Connor was sacked the following July and Stale Solbakken, who
had lost his job at Cologne the previous month, was charged with
guiding Wolves straight back to the top flight.

But the Norwegian made little impact at Molineux and after just
half a season, with the club lying 18th in the Championship in
January, he too was sacked and replaced two days later by
Saunders.

Former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Saunders, who began his
managerial career at Wrexham, took over as Doncaster manager in
September 2011.

He was unable to halt Doncaster’s slide into npower League One
last season, but galvanised the South Yorkshire club and steered
them into second place in the table before leaving to take charge
of Wolves.

Doncaster secured an instant return to the npower Championship
with victory at Brentford on the final day of the season under
Brian Flynn, who has since stood down as Rovers manager.