Walter Zenga fances the media

Dave Instone's verdict as new man checks in

Another Molineux Monday, and another packed press conference in the Hayward Suite.  This time it was to welcome new Head Coach Walter Zenga, who had been confirmed in the position on Saturday morning, watched the friendly with Swansea on the afternoon, and then taken his first training session prior to facing the assembled media.  David Instone has seen a fair few of these such events in his 30 years of closely following Wolves’ fortunes – and here is his take.


'Benvenuto Walter' read the programmed message on the TV screens. 'Good luck' was the more familiar send-off from various reporters as Wolves' new head coach ended his first press conference with a round of hand-shakes.

In almost an hour in between, we had all the reminders we needed as to how football is changing, in Wolverhampton and beyond.

At Walter Zenga's left shoulder was Jez Moxey, a man whose Molineux work is nearly done. To his right was Jeff Shi, who held centre stage in this very room barely a week earlier.

The introductions were done by the outgoing chief executive, who spoke of this appointment for 2016-17 and of other proposed or confirmed ones that left him relieved the club's football staff structure had been sorted out.

Due gratitude was paid to Kenny Jackett and Joe Gallen. There were reassurances, too, that the departures end here. This isn't the start of a major backroom clear-out.

So much have our heads been spinning with all this that news of the expected third player signing of the Fosun Group era almost came out as an after-thought yesterday. There has been rather a lot going on.

This Monday lunchtime, though, was really all about one person and into the Hayward Suite just before 2pm, smiling, bespectacled and tracksuited, strode one of Italy's most celebrated goalkeepers.

As certain as it was that a photographer would later ask him to hold a Wolves scarf above his head and smile, someone was bound to ask whether the club were gambling by installing him, given what he himself referred to as his 'very interesting curriculum'.

Why did he himself say yes to Wolves? Was he keen to help sign new players? How well did he know the Championship? The assembled media were asking the sort of questions supporters would presumably choose to ask at a day-one Q & A.

In the same room in which Graham Taylor had been introduced as manager as far back as 1995 and Dave Jones' high-profile welcome had been staged early in 2001, it was easy to see that their distant successor was not fazed.

Well, he won 56 caps, he seemed to play forever in Serie A and the travels he has made in his coaching career to Romania, where he also has citizenship, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia and Turkey has clearly bestowed on him a certain worldliness. Bringing his wife and kids, aged seven and four, to the Midlands will not be such a big upheaval, measured against that background.

His English will quickly improve but is already good for someone who neither played here nor previously occupied any of our technical areas. As occasional support to certain words and phrases, as his countrymen are colourfully inclined to do, he uses hand signals.

Passion, togetherness and hard work were three of the virtues he repeatedly voiced. Urgency, too, noting that there are only a few days until the Sky Bet Championship season kicks off at Rotherham; one of the venues you suspect he may have had to check out on Google Maps. And he knows full well the value of having the gold and black army on his and his players' side.

These guys have seen life – loads of it if we are talking football life – and tasted success. They don't buckle easily, they love a challenge. Wherever on the globe they come from, they also seem to hold a torch to English football, which is something to sustain us through the recurring disappointment of major international tournaments.

Happily for Wolves – and the new man suspects this might be fate – he indulged himself in watching a lot of Championship football in the final third of 2015-16.

Going back much further, Molineux's second foreign gaffer remembered Steve Bull being on the substitutes' bench in the third-place play-off in which Italy beat England in the penultimate game of the 1990 World Cup.

He also recalled the speed machine that was Tony Daley from when Aston Villa squared up to Inter Milan in international competition but, of the here and now, he knows, irrespective of the one-year option on his contract beyond this season, that he will be judged on results.

Managers, if we can still momentarily use that tag to describe them all, generally handle these occasions well enough and not only did we have a glimpse of what I imagine Neil Emblen or Pepe Reina might look like a few years from now, but also a frequent smile across a face bronzed by hours in sunnier climates and decorated with the most cropped of beards and moustaches.

He seemed to relish the occasional jousting with the TV interviewers but you suspect he will be happier still back on the training ground, preparing what he perceives as a young side and helping them put right what he saw when they were beaten by Swansea in a friendly at the weekend.

More players will inevitably come in but at least the men who identify, recruit, coach and select them now appear to be in place.

The Walter Zenga era is here and, if he makes anything like the sort of impact achieved last season by an Italian he knows across in the East Midlands, we will spend a happy spring looking up the words for 'congratulations' and 'contract extension'.