Who would have thought after last season that Wolverhampton Wanderers would be flying high at the top of the Championship and starting to make one of the ‘toughest leagues to get out of’ the complete opposite. Wolves fan, Matthew Rayner offers his insights on the bright start by his club.
Wolves have won praise from the majority of managers they have faced this season and after their 5-1 thrashing of Bolton Wanderers Phil Parkinson claimed ‘they will finish the league at least 10 points clear’.
But how have Wolves been able to turn their fortunes around so dramatically? It’s no secret they have invested in the squad since their takeover from Chinese based investors, Fosun but how does this compare to their Championship rivals. Have they gained an unfair advantage and have they abused the FFP rules?
When you compare the net spend of all the Championship clubs, Wolves actually sit in 3rd place with a total net spend of £12.17m; below Reading and Sheffield Wednesday. When you consider they signed the youngest ever Champions League captain with Porto Reuben Neves for £16m, this actually makes up the large majority of their expenditure on players, considering their next most expensive purchase was the £2m purchase of Portuguese defender, Miranda.
So along with clever acquisitions of Barry Douglas from Turkish side Konyaspor for a £1m price tag, who has clocked up 8 assists this season and then top scorer Brazilian Leo Bonatini on loan from Saudi club Hilal, it’s all been pretty savvy. Not forgetting, the free transfers of experienced former England goalkeeper John Ruddy and Ryan Bennett who has played over 6 seasons in the Championship.
Alongside the new additions, many players from the struggling side of last season have stepped up under the new management of Nuno Espirto Santo with Conor Coady being the stand out after taking on the captains armband. Coady, has been playing a central defence position that Wolves fans would never have dreamed of after showings last season. Whilst money may add quality, you can’t deny that the new manager has bought out the best of some of Wolves previously under-performing squad members.
With Wolves flying high, they have received constant comments of ‘you’ve bought the league’, but no one is complaining about how much Reading or Sheffield Wednesday have spent, and you have to say, this is because they are slipping towards mid-table and therefore slipping under the radar of the media.
If your club had the money to invest you’d hope they would do the same and use links such as Cristano Ronaldo’s super agent Jorge Mendes, to your advantage to lure top young players to the club, with the strong likely hood of Premier League football within a couple of seasons.
Wolves are playing some of the best football in decades and with the club now being run in a brilliant way, both on and off the field, it seems like the club are investing in quality and not quantity and it’s showing with the results. Wolves are certainly making the fans of other sleeping giants such as Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham hugely envious after their superb start to the Championship campaign.
Will the good form continue on the pitch and will Wolves be crowned Champions with everything that’s been said?
You’d have to be brave to argue against it. The point of whether they are doing things in the right way may continue to rumble on but you won’t hear many Wolves fans complaining about their recent turn in fortune.