Deadline flatline

It’s the hope that kills you.

With our positive start to the season and Nuno’s assured nature, I genuinely believed a striker would be signed this week to cap off a memorable window.

Locadia fell through, and by all accounts through no fault of our own. The issue is, however, that we left it so late to be stung.

PSV pulling the plug, combined with the sale of Nouha Dicko (to a rival), means that we are now majorly under-stocked in a department that has been earmarked as an issue since January 2016.

Personally I’d have kept Dicko, just to offer something different. And the fact that we have no one else.

With only Bonatini as a recognised forward, who else will play up there? I think Nuno sees Cavaleiro as an option as a false 9, with Zyro now looking likely to get game time with young Donovan Wilson.

On the bright side, Bonatini is still very new to the league and Wolves' system, but he has 2 goals already. I think he will weigh in with his fair share once up to speed – it just would have been nice to have had someone to share the burden.

Despite a questionable final week, I still think the window can be viewed positively. The decks were swept, quality was signed, and the club kept hold of Costa. Granted he was injured, but when he’s fully fit and linking up with his compatriots, we may not be as concerned by our failure to sign a recognised forward. Time will tell on that one.

N’Diaye looks a decent Championship signing, and one to strengthen our midfield now that long-serving Dave Edwards was sold (rightfully, in my opinion). A loan is risk-free.

Who knows, after his goal against Albion in the week, we might even see Pedro Goncalves in the first team soon.

While deadline day itself was an anti-climax, we still have reasons to be confident – for now.

I’m also willing to bet that the club will have a striker lined up for the first day of the January window.

Wolves 1 Leicester City 0

This team has potential.

Midfielders not afraid to get on the ball, defenders who were keen to find said midfielders with simple passes that allowed them to play, and pacy wingers making smart runs.

Nuno’s building from the back looks like it could bear fruit, with one or two targeted additions still needed.

Granted it was an unfit and one-paced Leicester City side, but there were still some big names on show and it was a useful test. Our passing was a joy to behold at times, and crucially we now have the players capable of playing that way.

Three things stood out for me watching yesterday’s game:

1.) Central midfield. We all knew Neves was a class act, but some of the passes were fantastic. The ball out to Barry Douglas (who also gave a very accomplished performance) was always on, and he was ably assisted by a confident Romain Saiss. Jack Price came in and showed flashes, even if it is hard to join a game that late on.

2.) Connor Coady. He looked revitalised at centre back. Without the burden of having to mark forwards, leaving that to Miranda and Boly, he read the game excellently and organised things nicely. He uses his midfield nouse to play simple passes, and was a pivotal part of the back 3. His goal line clearance from Jamie Vardy typified his attitude, even if it was a poor attempt from the England man.

3.) Forwards. I would not be happy if we didn’t sign a forward this summer. We are in dire need of one to act as a focal point, especially with doubts over Nouha Dicko’s fitness. The front three yesterday combined nicely, but Bright Enobakhare’s wastefulness suggests he still needs to develop. You got the feeling that the front three yesterday were always looking for the final ball rather than a shot. If this morning’s rumours of a homecoming for Andre Gray (a Wolverhampton lad and Jorge Mendes client) are true, this would be a most welcome addition to the squad.

Cavaleiro’s goal was a great strike worthy of winning any game, but we can’t rely on screamers every week.

There was, however, an air of optimism around Molineux yesterday, albeit of the cautious variety. If we can somehow add a clinical edge to the team, there is reason to be confident.

Roll on Middlesbrough next week.

Back to front

I am intrigued by our transfer business so far this summer.

We’ve signed two seemingly very different centre backs in Miranda (a ball player) and Ryan Bennett (a no-nonsense pro).

Hopefully they complement each other and add just the right amount of guile and steel to the spine of team this year.

Our other two centre backs, Batth and Hause, are very much in the Bennett mould, so I get the feeling Nuno Espirito Santo is looking for one of those three to rotate around Miranda as a key figure. I’m guessing Ebanks-Landell will be shown the exit door.

Our third signing, Phil Ofosu-Ayeh, is also interesting. Kudos to those of you who had predicted this signing for a couple of weeks now, but it is still surprising – not only because it is quite unusual for Wolves to raid the German second tier, but also because of the questions it inevitably poses:

1. Who is he?

To answer this, and get some idea of what he would bring to Wolves, I took to the fans’ forum of his former club, Eintracht Braunschweig (eintrachtbraunschweig-fanforum.de). Some seemed indifferent to his departure:

“I was never actually convinced by him. He was very quick but never quite played the right final ball.”

“I think he found his level in the second tier.”

But this is countered by others:

“A good player on the way up.”

“A very committed player with the right attitude. A real shame [that he has left Braunschweig].”

The general consensus (from a 28-page thread) is that he was an extremely quick player who a few Eintracht fans would have liked to have seen more of. His time at the club was marred by injury – he only made 20 appearances in 2 seasons.

Pace is certainly an attribute you cannot have too much of in the Championship. Let’s hope his injury woes are behind him, because if so, we may have just acquired some much-needed athleticism at right back. At times last year our defence felt one-sided as only Doherty was comfortable getting forward.

2. What does this mean for Dominic Iorfa?

A bit-part player from last season seems to have been pushed further down the pecking order. Part of me can’t help but feel a little sad, given that it isn’t often that we have an England U21 international in our squad.

I also hope the new centre-back signings don’t curtail Kortney Hause’s chances, either. Both still have a lot of potential and it is very easy to forget how young they still are.

3. Is the defence now suitably reinforced?

I’m surprised we’ve already signed 3 new defenders. With Silvio potentially still to renew his deal, we could have a very different looking back four come the first day of the new season. In fact, we actually have two complete back fours in our squad currently.

4. Should we now focus on other areas?

A proven striker is a must, surely. And a real ball-playing central midfielder to supply the bullets, as we can’t rely on our wingers all the time.

Miranda and Ofosu-Ayeh are pretty much unknown until we’ve seen them ourselves. However, I do think a mixture of gritty Championship know-how and the surprise element of new players could be a potent mixture. For me, our defence seems to have that now.

One word of caution – I read that Miranda may be made captain. Roger Johnson was the last centre back we signed and immediately gave the armband to, and look how that turned out…

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A dangerous triangle

Am I the only one concerned by the current events in WV1?

The cautious optimism that followed our final day win over Preston has been superseded by the gut- wrenching fear that Wolves are about to commit the same mistakes as 2016 – namely appointing a relatively unknown foreign manager and flooding the squad with unproven foreign talent.

For what it’s worth, the current managerial situation is an odd one. We can hardly say that Lambert tore up the league, with Blues at home surely the nadir of his short reign.

But he did make some astute signings that eventually got us over the line. And given our recent record with foreign managers, from Norway to Italy, we need to make sure we get this next appointment right, if Lambert is indeed on his way.

That’s not to say a foreign manager couldn’t work out well – each of the four play-off contenders this year took a chance on a left-field appointment and it has yielded more than 58 points for two consecutive seasons.

However, I don’t think the managerial situation is the issue here. It is what lies above.

The prospect of an agent running our on-field recruitment scares me a little. A man whose very role in the football industry is to engineer transfers for personal gain could be placed in charge of our comings and goings this summer.

And what’s more, he isn’t actually an employee of the club or Fosun. In an age where accountability is very much in vogue, this looks like a step backwards. Let alone whether any of these signings will actually be any good.

Mendes and our manager-in- waiting Nuno Espirito Santo (if betting offers are to be believed) have form here. Switch Fosun for another Oriental oligarch (the Singaporean Peter Lim) and we have the circus that was Valencia in late 2015/early 2016.

Take this quote from Roberto Ayala, a club stalwart and former technical director. He is referring to the set up at the Mestalla, and it is taken from the Portuguese press. Thanks to a Portuguese colleague of mine for the translation:

“I stepped back when I saw that things were not going well. There was a dangerous triangle between the owner [Peter Lim], the coach [Nuno Espírito Santo] and [Jorge] Mendes, the businessman. A triangle that was not going to help the club.”

“There was a technical secretary scouring the entire market looking for what was best for the club. Then the technical team was empowering the player and there was still the most skilled businessman in the world to negotiate.”

All sounds good so far, right?

“They bought at exaggerated prices and I could not participate in this style of management.”

And that’s where alarm bells ring. Are we about to see another summer splurge? Because if so, who is most likely to benefit from that? Our agent-cum-director of football, of course.

With Fosun remaining silent, we can only speculate. I really hope to be proven wrong, and that Mendes’ extensive phonebook yields a few Costas and no Gladons.

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