A Dangerous Triangle – One Year On

I read over the article I wrote for the Wolves Blog a year ago, and frankly, I had to laugh.

Having spent the season railing against the arguments presented by Leeds, Aston Villa and Derby County, it suddenly occurred to me that last summer I was doing something very similar. Unlike those clubs however, I’m prepared to hold my hands up and say how wrong I was.

In the summer of 2017, on the back of what seemed like another false dawn as a big-money takeover yielded only a 15 th place finish, I was the classic Wolves fan. I was scarred by countless failures and the times I’d dared to dream, only for it to be cruelly snatched away with ludicrously high points requirements (being relegated with 52 points, or missing the play offs with 78) or 11 point leads surrendered. So when the winds of change blew through our club, I was always looking for the negatives, because there had been so many previously.

I questioned the need for a summer splurge, cheekily suggesting that it served only to line Jorge Mendes’ pockets. Having had the pleasure of watching Ruben Neves spray effortless passes around, or Willy Boly saunter upfield to start an attack, I think it’s fair to say that the summer splurge was in everyone’s interests.

Comparing how I felt in 2017 with how I feel in 2018 emphasises the incredible efforts of Fosun, Nuno and the players. Our manager has unified the club, dumbfounded his critics and brought genuine joy back to the fans. This season has eroded the pessimistic, hope-for-the-best-but-expect-the-worst Wolves supporter I once was.

Where nervousness once ruled, now inspiration prevails.

Going into games this season expecting something from them was unchartered territory. Of course that will change in the Premier League, but we have nothing to fear – and certainly no need for pessimistic articles from fans *cough cough*.

If I were to re-write my article now, I would perhaps entitle it ‘A Risky Triangle’ – but as we’ve seen this season, a great risk can certainly yield an even greater reward. Hopefully this time next year I’ll still be feeling as optimistic!

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.