Back-to-back seventh-place finishes and a European adventure in the two seasons following promotion to the top flight. It all feels like a distant memory for Wolves fans. But those glory days under Nuno Espírito Santo are long gone, to the extent we’re having a conversation about the threat of relegation.
There have been small signs of a resurgence in the past month but there is plenty of football to play between now and the end of the season. Surely this Wolves squad is too talented to go down: or is it? Unfortunately, football doesn’t work like that.
A New Era Under Lopetegui
A poor start to the campaign saw Bruno Lage’s short tenure come to an end. However, the arrival of the experienced Julen Lopetegui brought a breath of fresh air and a new wave of hope. This newfound belief was epitomised in the 2-2 draw away at Liverpool, where Wolves were unlucky not to upset the FA Cup betting odds after having a late goal disallowed.
Although suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat in the replay, Wolves avenged their exit with a 3-0 drubbing of Liverpool in the league just two weeks later. There is no doubt Lopetegui’s reign has featured some highs and lows, but the former Sevilla coach could well be the future of the club.
Massive.— Wolves (@Wolves) February 4, 2023
The 56-year-old spent a long time with the Real Madrid and Spanish development teams, before racking up 53 wins and just nine defeats in his first major role with Porto. In a decade since, he has enjoyed an undefeated stint as Spain’s head coach, a handful of games in charge of Los Blancos, and 170 games at the helm in Sevilla.
Sevilla’s 2019/20 Europa League triumph highlights Lopetegui’s ability to win at the highest level. Success might not be instant, but with time, he could be a long-term solution for Wolves.
Wolves’ End-of-Season Run
Wolves are hovering in a precarious position just a few points above the bottom three. Despite the relegation pressure, the players will have their eyes firmly set on those above. The safety of mid-table is not a million miles away and could become reality in the coming weeks should the Wolves string together a couple of wins.
The main cause for concern is still their lack of goals. They rank among the least prolific attacks in the division, with midfielders Ruben Neves and Daniel Podence tied as the club’s top scorers with five each. But for all of their attacking troubles, they have a superior defensive record to several bottom-half outfits. Clean sheets will be pivotal in securing their Premier League status.
Wolves have a lot of tricky fixtures from now until the end of May. They still have to play Liverpool (A), Tottenham (H), Newcastle (A), Chelsea (H), Brighton (A), and Man United (A), with a trip to the Emirates awaiting on the final day
Regardless of the fixtures, we have seen enough from Wolves in the past few weeks to suggest they have more than enough to survive. And if they do manage to survive, the sky is the limit for this talented Wolves outfit under Lopetegui.
February 11, 2023