The fans remain Wolverhampton wonderers but the superficial signs exuded by their manager Glenn Hoddle are encouraging: a jovial post-match countenance, the Wolves tracksuit, the Wolves tie, the Wolves tie pin.
He would no doubt have conducted his press conference in a monogrammed Wolves lounge suit and a pair of gold and black wing tips had they been available from the club shop. Here is a man comfortable in their colours.
And yet the question of whether he will be wearing them next season remains unanswered, or at least answered in Hoddle’s own wonderfully obscure way, which amounts to the same thing. “There’s no reason [why not] at this moment in time that I can see apart from clearing away the things that we’ve got to clear away.” Erm.
“We all know in football that things change quickly; a player one minute is with you and the next day he’s gone. But we’re looking to take the next couple of steps and hopefully by next weekend or just after the end of the season, we’ll know.”
The results at least speak for themselves. Undefeated in 17 league matches culminating in a resounding victory over the surprisingly hopeless play-off hopefuls Reading is form that attests to Hoddle’s undoubted ability.
It may also be the reason why the Wolves fans are beginning to chant his name. Finally they have found the man with whom they want to settle down and yet remain suspicious he may leave them alone at the altar like so many others before them. It is clear that if Hoddle does remain faithful it could prove to be a marriage made in heaven.
Reading were desperate for a result after their rivals for the fourth play-off spot West Ham had lost the night before but had no answer to the visitors’ 4-5-1 formation. Reading’s early goal owed more to the aerial ability of their newly crowned player of the year Dave Kitson and an instinctive volley from Nicky Forster than any notion of supremacy.
By the time Wolves finally turned possession into goals, the on-loan Rohan Ricketts taking advantage of Ibrahima Sonko’s only defensive error for the winner after Leon Clarke’s headed leveller, Reading were well beaten.
They must better West Ham’s result at Watford on Sunday to make the play-offs; having to do so at promotion-chasing Wigan merely added to Steve Coppell’s dejection.
“I knew it would be a hard game and that proved to be the case,” the Reading manager said. “We’ve got to go to Wigan now and win, and hope.”