Nuno Espirito Santo is taking Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Promised Land
After a 2016 take-over of Wolverhampton Wanderers by the Chinese Investment group Fosun International and the appointment of Portuguese coach Espirito Santo as the new manager, the club seems to have been reborn. Winning 19 and drawing 4 out of 24 matches this season and topping the Championship table with 61 points, 12 ahead of their nearest rivals, The Wanderers seem on course to storm their way to the Premier League.
But the owners’ ambition suggests they want even more. On the 8th of April, 2017, the newly appointed club Executive Chairman stated: “Fosun has a long-term plan (for Wolves). Promotion (to the Premier League) is definitely not the ultimate target for us – we have to get to that and after that, we want to be a really strong team in the Premier League. It’s a long-term plan.”
This is definitely every manager’s dream and Santo seems to be the right man in the right place at the right time. He is in charge of the club at a time when there is both ambition and the support required to achieve its ambition. He has made top signings that have brought an embarrassment of riches for a Championship club. But this is nothing more than Wolves deserves.
For a club that has historically been very influential in European football having been a founding member of the Football League in 1888 and playing a key role in the establishment of the European Cup in the 1950s which later became the UEFA Champions League, Wolves has been up there with the greats. The period between 1949 and 1960 ranks as one of the club’s most successful as Wolves won the Football League three times, finished as runners-up three times and won the FA Cup twice.
But the club has also had its own share of adversity. Financial mismanagement in the 1980s led to two bankruptcies. Three consecutive relegations followed as the club went from Football League First Division to Football League Fourth Division in three successive years. But like every great success story, the club rose from its fall gaining back-to-back promotions to finish the 1980s back in the Second Division.
It was not until 2003 before the club enjoyed another season of Premier League football. The club was unable to stay up at the end of the season though. Mick McCarthy led them back to the top flight in 2009 and after three years the fall began once again. For the past two seasons, the club has struggled to hold on to their Championship status by barely avoiding relegation. But the friends and fans of the Midlands-based club are singing a new tune this season.
The arrival of the former Valencia and Porto manager at Wolves at the beginning of the 2017-18 Season initially raised some eyebrows. Santo was referred to by many as the next Jose Mourinho following his exploits at Rio Ave F.C. He qualified the club to both the Portuguese Cup and League Cup finals as well as taking the club to the UEFA Europa League for the first time in the club’s history. He followed that up with a brand of football which led to him being named La Liga Manager of the Month three times in Spain during his relatively short spell as Valencia coach.
After a 3-0 demolition of Brentford at Molineux on Tuesday, it is becoming clearer that Nuno Espirito Santo is leading Wolves into the big time in style. A run of good results this season that has seen the club lose only once while playing some of the best football ever seen in the Championship has placed the club in pole position to step up to the Premier League next season. And for all the club’s fans who believe the EPL is where their club rightfully belongs, they are getting closer and closer to “The Promised Land”.