Old habits die hard amongst some Wolves fans.
In the moments before and after the January transfer window closed, many were moaning about a lack of activity like the bad old days, as if Mujangi Bia and Jan Budtz were the two players through the door.
Rather than lament the lack of ‘first-team ready’ recruits (excluding Podence), a more accurate account might be to say we brought in three (including Campana and Loiodice).
Putting the ‘u23 squad’ narrative to one side for a moment, and I am of the firm belief that the Ecuadorian and Frenchman will be getting plenty of minutes in the first team come the end of the season, precisely because no established stars checked in at Compton instead.
Perhaps the reason we class them as such is to dampen expectation amongst us fans while taking pressure of the players at the same time? Surely a young lad who has played 17 senior games in Ligue 1 is not coming to England for a kick about at the Bucks Head on a Tuesday night?
Time will tell…
But with those old chequebook frustrations being particularly prevalent on social media, I took the opportunity to see some young blood in the u23s at Molineux the other evening, in a fixture against Liverpool.
The last time I saw a similar game was a good few years ago against a Stoke City youth team, when Liam McAlinden and Zeli Ismail were tipped to be our future shining lights for years to come.
That day, I only had eyes for a little magician in the middle of the park by the name of Price. Clad in orange boots, he efficiently moved the ball around and never misplaced a pass in a subtle, understated performance at odds with his footwear. The Shropshire Xavi indeed kicked on where Zeli and Liam stalled.
In this u23 fixture, I was keen to see Owen Otasowie and Renat Dadashov at close quarters. But like the last time I sprawled out across a row of empty seats, it was another young wolf which caught my eye more – Dion Sanderson.
I’d seen glimpses via Asia Cup television footage, but on the evidence of these 90 minutes alone, Dion stood out like a sore thumb, effortlessly fitting into the right of a back three alongside the more courted Otasowie.
Tessa’s nephew cut a cool figure, displaying bags of pace and enough physical presence to suggest he might just be the next cab off the rank for first team duties, particularly following Ryan Bennett’s surprise departure to Leicester.
Saying that, Otasowie’s strengths were still obvious and despite a slightly more unfiltered performance, he boasts size, power and pace and was operating out of position, I am told. As a defensive midfielder, you can picture a pretty frightening prospect.
Elsewhere, Jordao and Morgan Gibbs-White reminded us of their raw ability which injury has dimmed. Both looked dexterous and deft, with the former sitting and the latter operating further forward, being the architect behind all of Wolves’ best moments.
Both must be regarded as first-team squad material, with Gibbs-White oozing class and a sense of ease whenever on the ball. He looked most like a Nuno scholar which should be expected, such has been his exposure to the first team. The challenge, you sense, is where to play MGW and how to maximise the frightening potential he clearly has. (That, and keeping him fit as he hobbled off near the end).
Nobody else, including goalscorer Dadashov, particularly shone in a game that bubbled into life over a five minute second half period, although Andreas Sondergaard did look a safe pair of hands in goal and pulled off a cracking save to keep the score 2-2.
So granted, while we all craved another high profile signing or two before the window closed, the perceived inactivity might give us a subtle insight into the anatomy of Nuno’s squad and his general thinking.
Couple Campana and Loiodice with Sanderson and Jordao (and MGW if fit) and an embryonic squad is already taking shape – albeit in a different way a lot of us hoped for a month ago.
A cynic might suggest a tightening of the purse strings and a missed opportunity. A realist could point to Financial Fair Play regulations if we only understood what the hell they are.
As long as Nuno believes the children are our future, then I’m happy enough with that.
Teach them well and let them lead the way.