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.