Wolves played 42 matches in all competitions across a 2020/21 campaign which was like no other.

First, there was a tiny turnaround time between the end of last season’s Europa League run and the start of this term.

Wolves actually dealt quite well with that to begin with, but as the games mounted up, injuries hit Nuno Espirito Santo’s thin squad hard.

Sealing Premier League survival comfortably represents an achievement of sorts, but it was a backwards step after years of progress under Fosun.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United - Premier League
(Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

Despite this, Nuno’s team selections had enough consistency to them that seven players featured as starters in the first game of the season away at Sheffield United and the final match, at home to Manchester United.

This is the side which lined up to start the 2-0 victory at Bramall Lane on September 14 2020.

Rui Patricio, Romain Saiss, Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Joao Moutinho, Leander Dendoncker and Adama Traore were the seven players to feature in both game one and game 42.

This is the line-up Nuno picked to face United at Molineux on Sunday afternoon.

The changes underline the impact of injuries on Wolves’ season.

 

There’s every chance that Raul Jimenez, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence would have all played against United if they were fit.

The lineups show that the foundation of Nuno’s side has hardly changed – but he has been forced to come up with a completely different attack.

Jonny’s injury presented Nuno with a dilemma at left wing-back.

Marcal was the solution on the opening day of the season before Rayan Ait-Nouri took over and there’s now a decision to make over whether to buy him.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United - Premier League
(Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

Nuno had been experimenting with younger blood like Vitinha and Morgan Gibbs-White in the closing weeks of the season.

That means there could have been more changes on Sunday. But once the news came out that he was leaving, it was to be expected he’d play a strong team.

It seemed he wanted to pay tribute to the experienced core of the squad who had brought the club so much success.

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