With all three Wolves bloggers soaking in the rays at Molineux yesterday, I proposed we each put together a concise summary of the afternoon and some views on the new arrivals.
After watching Wolves put an extremely competitive La Liga side to the sword at the Molineux pre-season curtain raiser, it dawned on me that obsessing about transfer incomings before deadline day was probably missing the point. Rather than being seduced by thoughts of Adama Traore and co, my mind should have been contemplating the prospect of a full pre-season under Nuno and what effect it would have on our current squad men.
On Villareal evidence, it has to be a way more potent force to be reckoned with than the powers of any new players to sign before 5pm on Thursday. Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota looked as good as I can ever remember them playing last season, which is clearly saying something – the latter most definitely with that spark back from the first half of last season.
And in a snapshot summary of the game itself and our prospects in the Premier League, I’d say we’ll be absolutely fine. Were this team to play for the bulk of 38 games, I’d be staggered if it wasn’t amassing in excess of the 40pts required to stay in it. For an unapologetically conservative fan who is usually fearing the worst, that will do for me. For Nuno and Fosun, I’m sure such an outlook won’t for them, hence more likely arrivals in an attempt to improve us further.
Two wonderful saves and a definite presence about him. It was nice to see bonds being built between him and his new teammates as the game went on, with lots of encouragement for them throughout. Clearly, he’s a player.
For all of the heartache caused by Douglas’s departure, Jonny’s Molineux outing was an ideal pain relief. Stocky build, strong on the ball and a turn of pace to get up and down the pitch regularly. While it would be fickle to proclaim him as an upgrade on Barry after one game, you can see the thinking behind the signing on yesterday’s evidence and what Nuno is looking for from his new defender.
Undoubtedly class on the ball and rarely wasted possession. Occupied more advanced positions on the pitch than I thought and his qualities are clearly there for all to drool over. He definitely grew into the game and by the end was pulling the strings, in much the same manner as Nuno will want from his possession-based side this season.
Being hyper-critical, I just felt that we’d have been as effective with Saiss alongside Neves in the first half, as Villareal picked us off on the counter by exploiting the space between midfield and attack. On occasions, Neves and Moutinho were ahead of the ball as we were picked off. You would worry a tad with Everton’s penchant for no10 players like Sigurdsson. But by the end of the game, we seemed to have fixed this issue, thanks in part to the solidity offered when Bennett came on at the back.
The biggest plus of the afternoon for me. His energy levels had me harping back to Bully, as he chased down lost cause after lost cause and put himself about. Way more mobile than I thought, making him a threat in behind as well as with his back to goal. I arrived with low expectations of him, but left with a real sense of excitement. A brilliant game.
Whether or not all these signings work out remains to be seen, but the nice thing was the common sense behind each one having seen them. You can see what Nuno is thinking with each and what he wants his team to achieve. He clearly thinks that these players will help his achieve his objectives and you can see why.
Big battering rams like N’Diaye, who came on for Villareal, probably misses the point these days, who hauled down Jota by his neck in the second half, in a microcosm of where we are hopefully heading in future.
I dislike queuing as much as anyone, but there was something perversely enjoyable about waiting to get hold of my home shirt today. Premier League fever has come to Molineux and, as enjoyable as the win over a talented Villarreal side was, it was hard not to spend the game dreaming of next week’s curtain raiser against Everton. The atmosphere is sure to be electric and, if today’s second half was anything to go by, the football should be too. The defensive frailty shown in the first half is a concern, but not enough to make me question the quality of this team nor its suitability for top flight football. Play with this level of conviction every week and we should take to it like a duck to water.
Very little to do in general but stood up and made himself counted when he needed to. Still can’t quite get used to the sight of him in a Wolves kit!
Looks a good recruit and certainly not a downgrade on the departed Douglas. Solid defensively and confident going forward, he should fit in nicely.
Quiet in the first half but really imposed himself in the second. Looks a class act, though it’ll be interesting to see how he copes with the pace of the Premier League.
Solid performance capped by a winning goal, what more can you ask from your new number nine? Can see why he appeals to Nuno and is a definite upgrade on Bonatini and Afobe.
The team is more important than any individual. You soon forget that over the summer when all you’ve got to while away hours of procrastination at work is baseless transfer speculation. But once you actually sit down to watch a game of football again you quickly remember. Thankfully, the Nuno machine still looks well oiled even with four new integrated parts. This was a Villarreal side that finished 5th in La Liga last season don’t forget (although admittedly I don’t have the immediate knowledge to comment on the strength of the eleven they put out) and Wolves more or less dominated the game. The Spaniards played on the break and occasionally caught us out in possession, but it was gold shirts dictating the play. Hard to know how seamlessly this performance will transfer to the Premier League but I’m quietly confident ahead of the kick-off.
The golden moment…Ruben poked his penalty wide. pic.twitter.com/NYYXkorPP4
— Wolves Blog (@wolvesblog) August 4, 2018
Nothing to see here really. Did everything you’d expect including rushing off his line for their goal, which was expertly finished. Made one good save late in the first half to keep the deficit at one but was generally calm and assuring throughout.
Buzzed up and down the wing all afternoon, darting in behind and using his pace to make important recovery tackles. Definitely covers the ground quicker than Douglas and will pin opposition wingers back at times. Destined to change the dynamic of the team, but whether he’s equally effective as his predecessor only time will tell. I like what I saw though.
I suspect this chap will make ten squillion passes a game, often go unnoticed but somehow become integral to everything we’re doing. Midfielders that never give the ball away are a priceless commodity and we’ve got one of the best. Pinch me.
The consummate number 9 performance from the Mexican. Looks like a sort of Afobe-Bonatini hybrid, so can see why Nuno was interested. Got his goal which was just-reward for putting in the miles on a sweltering afternoon. Will surely start next weekend.