DAVE Jones will head back to Wolves with mixed memories of his reign as their manager.
He led the club to promotion to the Premier League but felt that he received too little financial backing after that to enable them to stay up.
The Molineux club hired him in January, 2001, and fired him in November 2004 when they were back in the Championship after a one-season stay in the top flight.
It is thought that his feat in taking the club to a Premier position after a 19-year absence will earn him a good reception tomorrow.
A highlight of his reign there was a 3-0 victory against Sheffield United in the 2003 play-off final at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Jones recalls in his autobiography, No Smoke No Fire: “We hit Sheffield United with everything we had. We could have hammered Manchester United that day, we were that good, at least in the first half - we went in at the break 3-0 up, The players were so focused because of what had happened the previous year. We could have beaten anyone that afternoon.”
Wolves had lost to Norwich in the semi-finals the previous season - Jones’ first full one in charge.
In his book he writes: “We’d developed a three-year plan to win promotion when I joined, and I had achieved it in two.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable, everyone was pulling the right way. The fans were delirious with joy and swarmed on to the streets of the city to party as we showed off the play-off trophy final on our open-topped bus tour.
“It was a fantastic achievement, but, as we’ve seen many times before, if you get into the Premiership you have to have funds to strengthen.”
At a meeting with the board and then owner Sir Jack Hayward - now Wolves president - Jones was asked how much it would take to keep the club up. “Twenty million pounds,” he replied. How much to finish in the top half? was the next question. “Up to 30 million,” he replied.
The third question was: “How much to win the whole thing?” Jones says he was amazed by the boldness of that question and gave a truthful answer: “Why don’t we just consolidate and make sure we stay up, then slowly build?”
Jones was encouraged by the questions but says: “Imagine my disbelief when the board stumped up next to nothing. Three million quid was all I was offered. Laughable. Peanuts. Pocket money. The kind of money that buys you one player, and an average one at that.
“I had to stay and attempt to achieve the impossible instead of just walking away, as some would have done.”
He had lined up a few players who would have cost around £16m but had to change his plans.
“I will never understand why, having waited 19 years to get there, they didn’t throw money at it. I never found out Sir Jack’s reasons,” he wrote. “In the January transfer window I did get another couple of million ... but even that was vastly insufficient and anyway we were too far off the pace by then.”
As the club headed towards relegation Jones was told by friends and other managers that he should move on, but he didn’t. “I had a lot of respect for the people at Wolves and, still, for Sir Jack. I was just confused and angry about how he had failed to back me, the club and the fans after promotion,”he added.
Wolves had also suffered by losing important players Joleon Lescott and Matt Murray for almost the whole season.
The club went down, to Jones’ huge frustration: “Once you lose Premier League status, it’s incredibly difficult to remotivate the players.”
Wolves were mid-table the following Christmas, with him believing they would get stronger in the second half of the season, but the axe fell. Sir Jack Hayward had been replaced as chairman during the Premier League season by his son, Rick, with whom Jones had a “fantastic relationship”.
Jones writes: “Time is a precious commodity in football, nobody ever gives you enough. It seems to be a constant battle - managers want more and more of it, chairmen and owners are prepared to give less and less.”
Earlier in his tale Jones says that he had known the Wolves job was the right challenge for him. He turned down Barnsley and Norwich to take it, his first job since his Southampton exit.
The Molineux outfit were near the bottom of the Championship when he took charge of them.