Long Season Ahead For Wolves?
Amidst months of rumours surrounding his position as Head Coach, Julen Lopetegui’s interview with Guillem Balagué last week once again highlighted how the restrictive transfer window is making his job more difficult. Tensions have been brewing off the pitch despite an unbeaten preseason.
The Premier League’s ever growing riches means that it is necessary to spend big, with parity ever closer between the teams outside the traditional ‘big six’ and Newcastle. For Wolves this summer, there are growing concerns that their squad is weaker, with Financial Fair Play restrictions meaning selling is the priority.
Club Chairman, Jeff Shi, has openly addressed fans in a public letter, offering reassurances that the ownership group, Fosun, is committed to the club. Patience in the head coach and the young players is a must, with a quieter summer window allowing more spending next season, according to Shi.
Lopetegui has seen the departures of club captain Ruben Neves, defender Nathan Collins (bought only last summer) and forward Raul Jimenez for fees. The experienced Adama Traore, Joao Moutinho, Roman Saiss are now free agents, leaving a once quality squad now looking rather thin.
Previous campaigns of heavy spending consequently leaves Wolves fans wondering what direction the club is truly heading, with a reliance now on young but promising loan players. A less experienced squad still needs to solve its goalscoring issues; Wolves only scored 31 goals last season, the lowest in the Premier League.
The return of loanee Fabio Silva (sixteen goals with Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven last season) and Sasa Kalajdzic (ACL injury) offers intrigue to hopefully compliment a strong core of Jose Sa, Max Kilman, Craig Dawson, Matheus Nunes and Mario Lemina.
Flirting with relegation last season, the dogfight holds no prisoners, as seen with Leicester City’s demise. Wolves still have a talented squad, but the reality is that they will probably only go as far as Lopetegui will take them.
It would not be surprising if the former Sevilla, Real Madrid and Spanish National Team boss was the first managerial departure, with reports that Gary O’Neill has been sounded out as a potential replacement.
Yet, with a full preseason under the Spaniard, a new look attack for Wolves has the potential to cause a few surprises this season, with a trimmed and more youthful squad looking to prove doubters wrong.