By Tony Leighton
When Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters greet the club's new manager with the chant, "Dean Saunders' black and gold army" they will be bang on the highly polished button, the former Wrexham and Doncaster Rovers boss having marched into Molineux and told his players that football is indeed like the army.
As he began preparing to send his team into battle for the first time, at home to Blackburn Rovers in Friday's evening's televised npower Championship fixture, Saunders quite probably told them that they must make Molineux - in fittingly military football-speak - a "fortress."
In that respect, the new boss would certainly be right as Wolves have won just one and lost five of their last nine home games. Now the former Wales striker, whose clubs as a player included Liverpool and Aston Villa, looks set to be a hard task-master as he starts to drill his team into battalion-like shape.
"Football is a watered-down version of the Army - discipline-wise," said Saunders as he set to work on guiding Wolves back to the Premier League. "In the Army they make you clean your shoes, they make you keep your bed tidy and they make you do things you don't want to do - and you have to obey the orders you're given.
"When a manager tells you to do something, you do it. The overall thinking is, when we go to battle, where it really matters, you get instructions and you have to comply with those instructions and you're all together as a group - you get used to obeying instructions and respecting authority.
"If you go into a war and two soldiers do their own thing, they get the rest killed. We aren't in the Army, but there have to be rules in place that players must adhere to - things like not being late for training, not leaving training kit on the floor, being in for treatment on time, living your life properly away from football.
"That's discipline - being able to say 'no' to things that might make you play badly, respecting your team-mates and authority. Most proper professionals like discipline. They like to know where the line is and they don't like to see other people not adhering to it, because those people lose the respect of the group.
"If you're the manager and you don't do something about that, the rest of them don't respect you and so you lose the group. So the rules are there and if people break the rules, you have to act, and disciplining them gets the team right on the pitch. If I shout instructions from the side, they don't question it, they just do it."
Saunders will obviously expect his players to "just do it" when they step out to face Blackburn, who like themselves were relegated last season and who at 13th in the table currently sit four points and five places above Wolves - but still five points short of the Play-Off positions - in the Championship.
Saunders said: "Blackburn are a good team with good players, but we have to start this game well. In the first 10 minutes we have to show the supporters that we mean business. If the tempo is too slow it'll be like sitting in a library, so we have to give them something to shout about and look to get some points on the board."
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