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Continental Wolves head for Wales

1 September 2012

By Tony Leighton

Wolverhampton Wanderers will face Cardiff City on Sunday with what new manager Stale Solbakken describes as a more "continental" approach after a busy summer transfer window for the npower Championship club following their relegation from the Premier League and Solbakken's July appointment.

Three of the club's biggest names - striker Stephen Fletcher and wingers Matt Jarvis and Michael Kightly - were sold during the window for a total of well over £25million while Solbakken has signed seven relatively unknown players for a fraction of the total brought in for his team's major outgoings.

His seven new men - Bjorn Sigurdarson, Frank Nouble, Tongo Doumbia, Slawomir Peszko, Georg Margreitter, Razak Boukari and Bakary Sako - are young players of seven different nationalities and give Wolves a highly cosmopolitan playing squad.

Solbakken said: "We have been very pressurised in the transfer window with Kightly, Fletcher and Jarvis leaving us so late, but we have done well, we have not panicked.

"We have worked [on signing new players] in a market that Wolves have not worked in before. We have a very good base of the English type of culture players and we can lead in that way, but we are going in a slightly continental way now.

"We can have the best of both cultures and then it's easier to get my ideas over, without being naive or stupid, and I think I have that balance. If I do my job and if the players feel comfortable then we will be okay."

As a player Solbakken had a brief spell with Wimbledon during the 1990's, but this is the 44-year-old Norwegian's first taste of management in England and after just three Championship games he knows what a tough task his side face if they are to make a rapid return to the top flight.

"The Championship is a very even, tough League," he said when asked about his first impressions of the division. "From what I've seen so far, everyone can beat everyone.

"Some of the clubs are using very big money and some are paying much higher wages than maybe before to be among the top six, for example Blackburn and the deal with Jordan Rhodes [£8million from Huddersfield].

"They used more money on one deal than we have spent on all seven players we signed. But the top six is what we hope for - like probably 14 or 15 other teams - so we will try everything to be as competitive as we can.

"Cardiff as well will be one of those teams and I think it will be a tight, even game on Sunday - but if we can play up to our best we will have a chance."

Wolves will aim to put on their Sunday best but may have to step up their game even further when they travel to Stamford Bridge to meet Chelsea after being drawn against the Champions League champions in Round 3 of the Capital One Cup.

Not that former Copenhagen and Cologne boss Solbakken will have any fears about a trip to Stamford Bridge. "The last time I was there," he noted with a cheeky glint in his eye, "it was nil-nil with Copenhagen in the Champions League - so if we can do that and win on penalties, that will be okay."

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