Wolves proved last season they weren’t just in the Premier League to make up the numbers.
With unprecedented TV money delighting club accountants across the country, it would be very easy to settle in for a cosy upper-bottom half finish.
Wolves returned to the top flight demanding more than mere survival, more than simply keeping their numbers in the black, and invested in a team that could mount a credible assault on the big boys. They did exactly that.
The Midlands side clawed their way into the Europa League, but with the long-game in mind, they’re sniffing even higher up the food chain.
RadioTimes.com has rounded up everything you need to know about Wolves ahead of the 2019/20 season.
Where did Wolves finish last season?
7th. Despite producing one of the most confident starts to a Premier League campaign by a newly-promoted side, a November slump brought expectations back under control.
Wolves picked up again in December, from which point they didn’t lose back-to-back games for the rest of the season and were never far from a victory.
Victories over Manchester United and Arsenal towards the end of the season may not have impacted the table, but they certainly demonstrated the endurance and maturity of the Wolves squad.
They were – and are not – a flash in the pan team, they have quality throughout in the shape of resolute centre-back Conor Coady, seasoned star Joao Moutinho, top prospect Ruben Neves and all-round menacing forward men Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota.
Who is Wolves’ key player?
Raul Jimenez. It’s a testament to how far Wolves have progressed in just one year that loan star Raul Jimenez thrived at Molineux in the biggest shop window competition on the planet and they still managed to tie him down permanently for £32.5m.
The tireless striker picked up 13 goals and seven assists for his efforts in the Premier League last season.
His hold-up play and ongoing blossoming partnership with Diogo Jota inspired Wolves to their final position and will intend to best his season stats this time around with a year of acclimatising under his belt.
Jimenez is adored by the Wolves fans, and that connection alone brings a buzz to the stadium.
He probably won’t knock in 20+ goals a season for them, but fans love relentless team players, and in Jimenez, the Molineux locals have exactly that – a striker capable of enhancing the whole team performance.
Who is Wolves’ biggest summer signing?
Patrick Cutrone (£16m). “I will look to do my best. Now I only think about integrating well and doing well there. I’m ready and excited to join Wolves. It’s a big challenge for me.”
Words from Cutrone himself confirm the deal will be done imminently, and he will become Wolves’ biggest signing of the summer.
The one-cap Italian international has played through six age levels of the national team system during his 12-year association with AC Milan.
He scored 10 in 28 during his penultimate season in the Italian capital but could only find the net three times last season, leading to Milan selling up.
Cutrone is a great all-rounder. His strength, physical stature and heading ability are all vital in leading the line as a ‘number nine’ but he’s no slouch either with enough pace and mobility to get himself into great position to finish attacks as well as help build them up.
Who is Wolves’ manager? Meet Nuno Espirito Santo
The love towards Nuno probably couldn’t get any stronger in Wolverhampton.
He has provided the fans with a wonderful promotion campaign and their highest finish in the English football pyramid since 1980.
Nuno has extracted maximum potential from a string of players used to plying their trade in the second tier and blooded in a crop of exciting faces from across the continent to create a very tidy squad.
The Portuguese boss enjoys watching his tactics evolve, he won’t persist with a style if it isn’t bearing fruit, but the majority of his line-ups are built with three at the back, wing-backs and a cluster of central midfielders threading balls through for Jimenez and Jota.
Against top teams, Wolves have found great success in counter attacking with pace, though they have struggled at times to cut through compact, deep banks of four when teams roll up to play for a scrappy away point at Molineux.
Wolves fixtures – The start
10th August: Leicester City (A)
19th August: Manchester United (H)
24th August: Burnley (H)
Wolves fixtures – The run-in
2nd May: Burnley (A)
9th May: Crystal Palace (H)
17th May: Chelsea (A)
Full Wolves fixture list and TV details here
The fans say…
SAM COOK, THE 77 CLUB PODCAST
What is the mood like among fans going into 2019/20?
We’re incredibly excited. Pre-season was short – and the Asia Trophy is on its way to Molineux! After a mammoth 18/19 season fans are optimistic. Usually we’d be playing on a pre-season tour in Ireland – instead there’s a trip to Crusaders in the Europa League qualifiers. Some of us are a bit nervous about the lack of transfer activity, but this comes 12 months to the day since we signed the wonderful Joao Moutinho. So again, in Nuno we trust.
Who will be your key player this season?
There are key players in each department. The main one would be Raul Jimenez. His goals and overall play were crucial last year and there’s no one competing in that role with him at the moment.
Ruben Neves is another one who has a real chance to hit the heights, and if Moutinho can keep his role in the side at a similar level to last year, it’ll be an exciting season ahead. Let’s not forget Matt Doherty though, his goals and energy in the RWB position was a huge positive for the team.
Finishing seventh was a terrific result last season, are you worried Wolves won’t be able to improve given the strength of the top six?
The top six are in a strange position as a group. For me, nobody can touch Man City or Liverpool. That leaves four. Tottenham can’t progress without matching the big spenders – they’ve done brilliantly, but they’re lacking that next big step forward. Manchester United have been ‘in transition’ for about seven years, Chelsea have transfer embargo and Arsenal… well… they’re on the slide and have been for a while.
If there’s ever an opportunity to ‘challenge’ for a top six place, it’s now.
How does it feel to know Wolves can attract and keep £30m strikers at the club? And you were even linked with Diego Costa!
One of the guys on the Podcast has been vying for Diego Costa since the Championship. However, when someone like Harry Maguire is touted at £80m, you have to ask yourself if the ‘market’ has any rules anymore.
It’s wonderful to be linked with big names, but we’ve had success through buys who’ve been ‘young and talented’ or ‘seasoned and classy’.
Where will you finish in the Premier League?
I think seventh is the goal – and we’ve got what it takes to secure that. Anything past the Group Stages of the Europa League would be fantastic.
Check out the latest Wolves news and views on The 77 Club podcast
Where will Wolves finish? RadioTimes.com says…
Wolves have been drenched in rightful praise since the end of the 2018/19 campaign, but they face a tough ask trying to hit the heights again due to the competition around them.
Everton, Leicester and West Ham have all strengthened significantly over the course of the summer and none of those sides have Europe to focus on.
As with their mentality towards the Premier League, they aren’t simply in Europe to make up the numbers.
Their team is far too strong to be troubled with relegation, so they will absolutely go for it on the continent, even if it means running the risk of burning out in domestic competitions.
In the context of Europe, it wouldn’t be a backward step for Wolves to slide in the table if it means they have a real bash at enjoying their reward for an excellent 2018/19 season.
Predicted 2019/20 position: 10th
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