Gary O’Neil appointed as new Wolves manager
Wolverhampton Wanderers appointed Gary O’Neil as the club’s new manager on Wednesday, replacing Julen Lopetegui who left the club the previous day.
O’Neil, 40, is the youngest manager to coach Wolves in more than 20 years and the first British manager of the club and the first British manager since Kenny Jackett left the club in 2016.
O’Neil spent the 2022-23 season with Bournemouth, initially pointed as a caretaker manager just four games into the campaign following a 9-0 loss to Liverpool, and then holding on for the rest of the season as he pulled the cherries out of the relegation zone.
Despite a successful season, O’Neil was let go over the summer and eventually replaced by Spanish manager Andoni Iraola.
“We’re delighted to welcome Gary to the club. He’s a highly motivated young coach with strong principles and very well thought of by everyone he has worked with, and we’re excited to see what we can achieve together at Wolves,” Wolves Sporting Director Matt Hobb said in a statement.
“Our players have shown their quality during pre-season, and I believe Gary and his team will continue to coach and improve them and will have success working with this group. Everyone at Wolves is looking forward to welcoming Gary, offering him their full support and working collaboratively to help the club to keep pushing forward together.”
O’Neil replaces Lopetegui, who left on Tuesday after a productive nine months in charge due to differences of opinion between the club and manager on how the team should be managed. He joined the club on a three-year deal last November, but a financial settlement has been agreed on to prematurely terminate that contract.
Korean midfielder Hwang Hee-chan flourished under Lopetegui, recovering from a long slump and rejoining the lineup after being effectively sidelined by his predecessor Bruno Lage.
Hwang described Lopetegui as a very detail-oriented manager who gave very clear direction, something that Hwang clearly benefited from.
After an up-and-down start to his Premier League career, Hwang will need to adapt quickly to O’Neil’s approach.
The former Bournemouth manager appeared to favor a more offensive playing style last season, pushing up the pitch with more strength in the midfield than defense. That could work well for Hwang, who is used to playing out of the middle and up the side with both Wolves and the Korean national team.
O’Neil now has very little time to adapt to the new role. Wolves will start their Premier League season on Sunday with a tough opening fixture against Manchester United on the road at Old Trafford.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]