The 41-year-old, one of the club’s greatest ever players and an integral part of the feted Sean O’Driscoll era, has been unveiled as the club’s new manager, having beaten off intense competition in an extensive interview process.
Wellens had been out of the game since parting company with Salford City by mutual consent in March, having previously managed Swindon Town and Oldham Athletic in his dug-out career thus far.
The Mancunian, who rebuffed opportunities to return to management soon after leaving Salford, said: “I have never had a full season at the same club because of Covid-19 and a couple of other reasons.
“Ideally, I am looking for a ‘home’ and this was a football club which helped me develop as a player hugely and now I want to find a home and continue to develop as a manager.
“I desperately wanted it because it is a stable club and it is run the right way. Hopefully, we can start to build the club to where it used to be.
“I want a really good home where I can spend a long time at a club and see where that project takes me.
“The list of managers who have been here – Sean O’Driscoll, Darren Ferguson, Grant McCann and Darren Moore – have been very successful. I hope to continue that.”
On taking some time out before returning to management, Wellens – who won the League Two title with Swindon in 2019-20 – added: “When I left Salford, there were a few opportunities of ‘do you want to come and try and get us in the play-offs.’’ I just did not want to get back in because of the situation.
“You are trying to build a team who plays fast, intense, high-pressing football and (when) there’s no support there, it can make it a little bit difficult and every game is like a pre-season friendly and the opposition can slow the game down.
“Knowing that the first game of the (new) season will be in front of supporters, I am so excited to get going.”
Pledging to put attractive passing football, a hallmark of his first spell at the club in the Noughties, at the heart of his philosophy in charge, he continued: “Let’s put a team out on the pitch where the fans, who work all week, can use it as a release and come to the stadium and not only want results and wins, but enjoy what they are seeing as well.”
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