A Little Bit of History…
Wolves fans will be forgiven for starting the 21/22 season with a slight sense of apprehension. They’ll begin the new season without their much-loved boss Nuno Espírito Santo, who left the club in May after four years at the helm. The Portuguese manager had lifted this famous club from mid-table immobility in the EFL Championship to the Premier League in just one season and established them with two highly impressive 7th places finishes and 13th place last season. He also guided the team to the Europa League quarter-finals.
Nuno had radically transformed the club during his tenure in the managers seat, making his departure all the more surprising. Wolves appeared to be on the cusp of really achieving something. Just over a month later, Nuno was appointed the manager of Tottenham Hotspur after a lengthy search.
The new man in charge at Molineux is Bruno Lage (below), the former Benfica manager. He’s worked in England before as an assistant manager at both Swansea City and Sheffield Wednesday, and Wolves fans will be hoping that he can continue the fast, attacking style of football that Nuno imprinted on the club. Initial signs are promising; Lage won the Portuguese Primeira Liga with Benfica in 2019.
But while Lage could develop into a quality manager, Wolves have been here before. The appointment of Nuno gave the club much needed stability during a turbulent time, and fans will be hoping that his departure does not destabilise them. Memories of short, fruitless managerial reigns in recent times will be at the forefront of their minds; Terry Connor (13 games), Ståle Solbakken (30 games), Dean Saunders (20 games) and Walter Zenga (17 games). Lage will not want to see his name added to the list of forgettable Wolves managers.
The Season Ahead…
Wolves will be looking to climb back into the top half of the table and challenging for the European places. They have a talented squad, with a strong Portuguese contingent; goalkeeper José Sá and defender Nélson Semedo make up the backline, while Bruno Jordão, Pedro Neto, Rúben Neves, Fábio Silva and Daniel Podence are part of a creative midfield and attack. Club captain and England international Conor Coady is a rock in the centre of defence, while Mexican striker Raúl Jiménez has fully justified the $40 million transfer fee that Wolves paid Benfica in 2019.
They’ll be concern amongst fans regarding the status of winger Adama Traoré (below). The former Barcelona man had spells with both Aston Villa and Middlesbrough but since joining Wolves in 2018, he has matured into a blistering player. Lightning across the pitch with the ball at his feet, and able to pass opposition players at will, Traoré has caught the eye of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United. The 25-year-old Spanish international could well command a transfer fee of $50 million plus, but Wolves fans will be hoping he continues to wear the black and gold when the transfer window closes.
The club have signed winger Francisco Trincão on a season long loan from Barcelona and defender Yerson Mosquera from Atletico Nacionalto strengthen their squad, while several players have left, including goalkeeper Rui Patricio who has joined AS Roma.
Location Wolverhampton, West Midlands
Stadium Molineux Stadium (32,050 capacity)
20/21 Final League Position 13th
Opening Game of 21/22 Season away at Leicester City
21/22 Predicted final League Position 12th
Nuno Espírito Santo is a huge loss for Wolves, but life under Lage is about to begin. It’s a big ask for him to emulate is predecessor, but a talented squad should help the club solidify their standing as a formidable Premier League side. Who knows where they could go in the future, but a season of consolidation is on the cards