Wolverhampton Wanderers made their return to the Premier League after winning the 2017/18 Championship with 99 points, and there was much expectation on the Midlands club. It was the first time they were playing Premier League football since finishing bottom in the 2011/12 season.
They’ve proven themselves to be a strong outfit over the course of the season, sitting in eighth place at present, level on points with Leicester City, but with a game in hand. What they’ve achieved this season looks set to be the tip of the iceberg, with many expecting them to push on from here and challenge for a place in Europe.
Soon they could be joining the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in the Betfair Europa League odds, but they need to sort out these issues first…
You can understand why people are tipping Wolves to contend for the European places when you see some of the results they’ve achieved this season. Although Manchester City and Liverpool have proven too much for them, Wolves remain undefeated against former Premier League winners Manchester United and Chelsea.
They held United to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, before inflicting a 2-1 defeat on the Red Devils in the first game in April. They achieved identical results against Chelsea, a 1-1 away and a 2-1 win at home.
On the other hand, they’ve also shown they can suffer at the hands of relegation-threatened opposition. In the first half of the season, they lost to Brighton & Hove Albion and Cardiff City away from home, and to bottom club Huddersfield Town in a 2-0 defeat at Molineux.
Embarrassingly for Wolves, they are the only team who have lost both league games against relegated Huddersfield, leading many to question the club’s potential.
If they are to progress as a team, then their inconsistent form will need to be dealt with. Glory won’t come to them if they can only beat the top teams. Consistency across all 38 games is needed and perhaps some new additions this summer will push them beyond their current position.
Wolves’ relationship with football agent Jorge Mendes has provided the club with an opportunity to sign both good, experienced players, and up-and-coming stars. Portugal’s number one, Rui Patricio, joined the Premier League club initially on a free transfer from Sporting Lisbon, but this has since become a £16 million fee.
João Moutinho was another experienced player to have joined Wolves over the summer, with the club forking out £5 million to sign the Monaco midfielder. He has experience playing in the Champions League with Sporting Lisbon, FC Porto and Monaco.
Rúben Neves and Diogo Jota were youngsters who have been with the club since their Championship title victory, with the former signing permanently from Porto ahead of the 2017/18 season in a £16 million deal. Jota on the other hand initially joined on loan from Atletico Madrid, before having the deal made permanent in the summer of 2018 for a reported fee of £12 million.
Although Neves has been linked with a move to both Manchester City and Liverpool, expect the club to use their links with Mendes to sign some top-quality players. Portugal have a wealth of young talent coming through the Portuguese leagues, so it might be worth Wolves taking a punt on these players, especially considering how well their current crop are doing.
Reaching the Europa League might be a big ask for next season, as they could easily suffer if they fail to improve. Toppling the current top six will take some doing, but looking at the rest of the teams in the league, there’s no reason why Wolves can’t be the team to do it.