Wolves appoint Gary O'Neil as replacement for Julen Lopetegui

Former Bournemouth manager takes over at Molineux after Spanish coach left on Tuesday

Gary O'Neil was sacked by Bournemouth despite guiding the club to Premier League safety. Reuters
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Wolves have appointed Gary O'Neil as their new manager following the exit of Julen Lopetegui just days before the start of the new Premier League season.

O'Neil was surprisingly sacked by Bournemouth at the end of last season despite steering the Cherries to top-flight safety but has quickly found himself another job and has signed a two-year contract.

The 40-year-old took 36 points from his 34 top-flight games in charge as Bournemouth finished the campaign in 15th place, five points clear of the relegation zone. O'Neil oversaw 10 victories, losing 18 and drawing six in what was his first managerial position.

Lopetegui, 56, took over at Molineux in November with Wolves in the bottom three but the Spaniard's impact was immediate and the Midlands club secured their top-flight status with three games to play, finishing two places and two points ahead of Bournemouth.

Sporting director Matt Hobbs said: “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.

“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.”

Lopetegui left on Tuesday after becoming increasingly frustrated with the club's financial constraints that has seen a number of first-team players depart this summer, including midfielder Ruben Neves to Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal and striker Raul Jimenez to Fulham.

Only two players have been brought in on free transfers – Matt Doherty and Tom King – and the former Spain and Real Madrid coach reached a mutual agreement to leave the club on Tuesday.

Lopetegui said in a statement: “I wish Wolves and everybody at the club the very best of luck for the future, and thank them for the opportunity granted at the time to take charge of this wonderful club.

“It has been an honour to enjoy this adventure. Also, of course, I want to thank the players, who have always given the maximum to achieve our objectives, and especially the fans that made me feel like one of them from the very first moment and have always been amazing to me, my staff and my family.”

Lopetegui, whose backroom staff of Pablo Sanz, Juan Peinado, Oscar Caro, Edu Rubio, Borja De Alba Alonso and Daniel Lopetegui also went, took over with the club in dire straits.

He won nine league games from that point, beating Liverpool and Tottenham at Molineux, as the club finished safely in mid-table to extend their Premier League stay into a sixth season.

“On behalf of everyone at the club I'd like to thank Julen and his staff for their dedication and hard work during their time at the football club,” said Hobbs.

“They were brought in with the primary aim of keeping the club in the Premier League last season, an objective which they achieved with games to spare.

“While our ambition had been to move into the new season together, it is public knowledge that there were differences of opinion on some key topics, and it was agreed by all parties that it would be best to part ways ahead of the new campaign.

“After a successful pre-season, full of hard work and good performances, Julen and his staff leave the squad in great shape ahead of the season opener next week, which will give his successor the best possible platform for success.”

Wolves open their season away to Manchester United on Monday.

Updated: August 09, 2023, 2:52 PM