Glenn Hoddle managed to keep his feet on the floor when Wolverhampton Wanderers made such a promising start to the season with seven points out of a possible nine.

So he's certainly not getting too carried away now that his Wolves side have started stumbling.

Hoddle's men have now won only once in six league matches, as well as being bundled out of the Carling Cup by Watford this week.

But the Wolves boss has become increasingly renowned over his nine-anda-half months at Molineux for his likening of a 46-game Championship campaign to a promotion race of Grand National proportions.

Running with the Aintree analogy, Wolves are still effectively only at Becher's first time round.

Sheffield United might well have gone off into the distance, opening up a four-point cushion, a seven-point lead on the play-off pack and a yawning 11-point advantage on Wolves. But Hoddle is well aware of just how few Aintree winners have led from the front.

More pertinently, despite a winless four-game run ahead of tomorrow's trip to Stoke, he knows his side are not yet in danger of being 'pulled up'.

Unlike in the National, in this promotion stakes, there are three winners' places in the unsaddling enclosure. And, of the nine fences Wolves have jumped, only two have so far brought them down.

"There's a long, long way to go," said Hoddle. "And I'm not too worried about the gap.

"It's like horses in the National. The time we need to be in pole position is March and April.

"I wasn't too excited about the stats before, whatever unbeaten run we were on. And there's still plenty of time for the top sides to be dragged back when they hit a few hurdles.

"Automatic promotion has always been the aim and that hasn't changed after having played so few games.

"I'd be saying the same thing if I was in Sheffield United's position. There's still a lot of hurdles to get over. And you might get clipped by a few and get caught.

"The business end of the season starts in March and that's really when you need the good fortune."