With only 11 days left to the start of the season, the news of Matt Doherty’s departure and Traore’s recent diagnosis, fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers can feel very nervous.
It is no secret that last season was long for Wolves, yes there was a break but Wolves essentially played 59 games across 383 days with around 20 players, eight of which made over 50 appearances. Wolves fans will know Nuno Santo likes a small squad – it helps foster a close-knit group with a great dressing room atmosphere, but things are getting ridiculous. As it stands 13 first team players available for them to start the season with. Last season Wolves only used 21 players in their Premier League campaign and when you compare that with some of the teams who pipped them to European qualification (Tottenham (29), Man United (29), Arsenal (29) it is blindingly obvious that Wolves need more options.
The minuscule squad has even got to manager Nuno, who I would argue is Wolves’ best asset. After a very lethargic Wolves team were knocked out of the Europa League, a feat that shrewd punters taking advantage of Sign Up Bonuses could possibly have predicted, their manager was uncharacteristically vocal: “We need more players to help us, it’s a small squad.” He said. Which at the time was encouraging as fans could finally hear the manager voice concerns also held by them. Fast forward nearly a month later with no signings, outside of a third-choice goalkeeper and Nuno is “stalling” on signing his new contract with only a year left on his current deal.
There is no denying this is a turning point for Wolves. Are they going to become profit generators for an already obscenely rich Chinese conglomerate or are they going to help them kick on, build on current success and become a team battling for the top six every single season? Throughout last season Wolves lost Sporting Director Kevin Thelwell and Managing Director Laurie Dalrymple to New York Red Bulls and Harlequins respectively. They were two well respected and much-loved faces of the backroom team at Molineux. Supporters waited expectantly for their replacements. And they waited and waited. Then they waited some more until an announcement came on August 21. Wolves chairman and Fosun Group representative Jeff Shi would now be overseeing both the football side and commercial side of the club with an internal restructure. This means Wolves’ business is done by committee, the direction of the team is decided by committee and even transfer decisions are made by committee. If I was Nuno, I’d also be stalling on signing a new three-year deal.
Wolves went from potentially qualifying for the Champions League while still battling in the Europa League in June to no Europe next season and leaving with a whimper from the Europa League. You would think this would encourage a huge response from everyone at Wolves. The response has been to sell the best right wing-back in the Premier League (outside of Trent Alexander-Arnold) for a pittance and to loan out World Cup winner Morgan Gibbs-White. I do think the loaning of MGW to Swansea is a smart choice. He was not meeting the expectations surrounding him and I think his former England U-19 manager Steve Cooper will help provide him some guidance and discipline, but now we need to bring players in.
One thing is for sure Wolves do not need wingers Adama Traore, Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence were all incredible last season so where do Wolves need players?
Well suddenly they need a new RWB, Luke Matheson was a great young acquisition last year but they need a first-team ready player who can fill Doherty’s boots (an almost insurmountable task).
They need a starting CB, the loaning of Ryan Bennett last season suggests he’s out of favour, and I’m sorry but, Saiss is prone to mistakes. I want to keep Saiss, he’s versatile cover and is great for the atmosphere but he should not be a starting CB. Dream signing in this position – Ruben Dias.
Joao Moutinho is 34 on September 8th and although he shows no signs of stopping they cannot use him for another 57 games this season.
Raul Jimenez has been a stand out for Wolves since promotion, but he was flogged for 55 matches which culminated in him having a crucial penalty saved so cover for Jimenez is required.