Wolves’ abysmal 1-1 draw with Burnely at Molineux showed why Leander Dendoncker is Nuno Espirito Santo’s most important midfielder.
Nuno’s pack didn’t deserve a draw but Sean Dyche’s men didn’t deserve to win either thanks to their time wasting.
Dendoncker’s absence in midfield was also the cause of Wolves’ poor performance in addition to Burnley’s anti-football.
Why Leander Dendoncker is Wolves’ most important midfielder
Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho receive the plaudits and adoration, but Dendoncker is secretly responsible for them being so good.
The two Portuguese midfielders are excellent maestros, but the key to Wolves’ enviable midfield is the 24-year-old Belgium. And it doesn’t matter that his performances go unnoticed as the only opinion that matters is the manager’s.
Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood bullied Conor Coady in the first half. Wily Boly was okay because of his physique and deceivingly thin frame, but Coady and Bennett were a mess.
However, Dendoncker changed things for the better when introduced in the 55th minute of the second half. His protection stopped Barnes and Wood from bullying Coady and Bennett.
And that’s why Dendoncker is so important: he protects Wolves’ defence so Neves, Moutinho and Jota can commit more to attacks.
Not only that, but the former Anderlecht star is also excellent at retaining the ball and keeping things simple.
Neves and Moutinho can occasionally produce magic, but Wolves’ number 32 is consistently strong in winning the ball back and contributing goals when Nuno’s pack needs them the most (Wolves’ 1-0 win against Fulham to secure Europa League football).
Nuno shouldn’t be blamed for not starting Dendoncker as the Belgium midfielder probably needed resting before Torino’s visit this Thursday.
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But, with that being said, his absence was still more than felt thanks to him secretly being Wolves’ most important and influential midfielder.