Last year, Wolves was very much the Manchester City of the Championship. The team looked head and shoulders above the rest, promotion to the top flight seemed a formality, and so it turned out to be. Nevertheless, taking that step up is always a challenge, and promoted teams have a habit of being found out at the next level. That’s already proving the case for fellow newcomers Fulham and Cardiff, who have one win between them and are languishing at the foot of the table. For Wolves, however, it is another matter.
Consistency and belief
Wolves hit the headlines in just their third game back in the top flight when they held Manchester City to a draw. All the talk was about Willy Boly’s hand of God moment, but the more important point was that for all 90 minutes, this looked like an encounter between two evenly matched teams. Anyone who thought otherwise must surely now reassess. Workmanlike wins over the Hammers and Burnley showed that this is a team that will not be duking it out for survival this year. And their performance against Manchester United said a lot more.
Yet again, the headlines were all about the fact that Manchester United failed to win, as opposed to lauding a Wolves performance in which they outplayed the Red Devils for most of the game. That will suit Nuno Espirito just fine. The longer the media focus on the problems at Old Trafford and leave him and his team to get on with their jobs, the happier he will be. This is a man on a mission, and he is now confident that his team can take on anyone.
The best of the rest?
It is not just those with a vested interest that see Wolves as genuine contenders this year. If you want to get an unbiased view of which teams are in the ascendency, the best place to look is on your mobile. This is the age of smartphone apps, and fans spend as much time logging on to bookmaker sites and European slot spiele providers as they do checking their Facebook accounts. It’s not just about trying to win mega moolah on the latest games, nice though that is. It is also a great way of finding out which teams have the momentum at every stage of the season.
As far as Wolves are concerned, the odds tell an interesting story. They might be lying tenth in the table at present, but most bookies see them as “best of the rest” outside the big six teams. That’s practically unheard of for a team that has been newly promoted. In fact, you have to go back to Ipswich Town in the 2000/01 season to see anything vaguely similar.
How high can they finish?
It will take something truly unexpected to topple City, Liverpool and Chelsea from the top three slots as the season progresses. Beyond that, however, anything is possible, as is demonstrated by the fact that Watford currently occupies fourth place in the table. That seems unlikely to be maintained for long. Arsenal were unlucky to face City and Chelsea in the first two weeks, but have not made a false step since, and it is only a matter of time before they overtake Watford.
The most interesting point is that United and Spurs are both looking fragile. Wolves have come this far playing their own game and not getting caught up in too much hype. With Southampton, Crystal Palace, Watford and Brighton to play in their next four games, adding a further 12 to their points tally is more than a possibility. The wolves are back, and they have teeth.