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Wolverhampton Wanderers could be Premier League bound next season

Monday 24th July 2017
It appears that, in terms of their status in the league, Wolverhampton Wanderers have refused to move forward. After enduring a turbulent three seasons which commenced with demotion from the Premier League in 2012, the last two campaigns have seen Wolves finish at the bottom of the Championship.

This summer, however, has brought along a lot of changes to the Midlands-based club. First, it was the exit of manager Paul Lambert at the end of the 2016-17 season. This signalled the beginning of a new dawn at Molineux. It was clear the club's hierarchy had identified the need for change on the basis of league finishes that the club was making no progress.

The initial news of Nuno Espirito Santo taking up Lambert's position was not received well by some sections of Wolverhampton Wanderers fans. Some are of the opinion that Paul Lambert has helped the club to be more stabilised and so deserved to be rewarded with another season managing the team. Another source of concern for Wolves fan is that the newly appointed manager is inexperienced in English football.

However, the Portuguese's record in management cannot be overlooked and Rafael Benitez, David Wagner and Jaap Stam all had achieved success in their respective clubs, despite none of them having a full season experience in the English second tier prior to the previous season.
The influence super-agent Jorge Mendes has on Fosun International has justifiably caused major concern for many Wolves fans since the Chinese ownership took over the Championship side last July. The influence of Mendes was evident during the departure of Lambert, following a rumored dispute over the Scot not getting to call the shot on the signing of new players.

Since the emergence of Fosun, several players have been signed, with a great portion of those coming from Mendes' native Portugal or from clubs the super-agents has connections with.

Of all the new acquisitions since the takeover, one player stands out – Helder Costa. The Portuguese was brought to the Black Country for £13 million and went on to become an integral part of the team during the 2016-17 campaign, getting himself awarded with the player of the season award and performing brilliantly in the FA Cup against Liverpool.

Although the talented winger has just been stroked with injury, this could be advantageous for Espirito Santo as a long-term injury to a player will likely take him away from the focus of the prying eyes of other clubs looking to take him away. If Wolves are able to retain Costa, he will no doubt make a solid contribution in the forthcoming campaign to propel the club towards promotion to the top flight once he gets fit enough to grace the pitch again.

Wolves have signed eight new player this summer, which in itself is a big statement of intent, considering August is still some days off. A club that dived this early into the transfer market is giving its players enough time to settle and get accustomed to their new manager's style of play.

The additions of John Ruddy, Barry Douglas and Roderick Miranda are all commendable transfer dealings. The biggest statement of the bunch is of course new record signing – Ruben Neves. The former Porto man arrived for a Championship record fee.

The 20-year-old has two caps for Portugal and became the youngest captain in the history of Champions League when he wore the armband against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in 2015 and has garnered lots of attention from several European top clubs, including the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, according to the Express and Star. The midfielder is a real coup for Wolves and if he fulfils his potential he could lead the team to the upper reaches of English football.

This signing proves how beneficial the presence of Jorge Mendes is as it has given the Wolves the opportunity to buy players that would normally have been beyond their reach.

Despite concern over the purity of the relationship between Fosun and Jorge Mendes, the fans' concern would not take long to be abated if the side is winning games and contending strongly for promotion. However, if Wolves fail to earn a spot in the Premier League next season, they could begin to fell burdened financially.

This may be a gamble that Fosun are willing place their money on as they have already shown they have no qualms in spending largely to acquire the right players. There is still a lot of time left in the transfer window. The playing squad are undoubtedly a talented bunch and new manager Nuno Espirito Santo has made an impressive start to the pre-season with a spectacular defeat of Werder Bremen which saw his side lavished with praise for their style of play.

The forthcoming campaign will soon tell if Wolverhampton Wanderers have what it takes, but the signs are indicating that they could become a genuine contender for promotion to the top tier.
Adebayo Temitope

Temitope, an ardent soccer fan. I may be based in Lagos but I watch as much European football as I can. I've been writing about football for several years, before I joined IRIAW you may have seen my work on The Football Weeks. I'm also a keen music fan


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