For many Wolves fans, the 2021/22 campaign was a case of ‘what might have been’.
Wolves endured a tricky start to the season following the arrival of Bruno Lage as Nuno Espirito Santo’s successor, losing the first three games of the season 1-0.
But a couple of months later, things started to click.
Wolves managed to climb the table, and by the end of February, the club was firmly in contention to secure European football of some form for next season.
Sadly, Wolves went on an awful run at the business end of the campaign, failing to win any of the last seven games and losing five of them.
It’s been a season of highs and lows, but here are a few of the most positive aspects of Wolves’ 2021/22 campaign…
Bruno Lage masterminded some very impressive results
Some people feel a little frustrated with the manager after he oversaw a winless run of seven games to finish the season.
He undoubtedly made some questionable calls. But Lage has also delivered some very good results this term and has shown himself to be a decent tactician at times.
The 46-year-old completely out-foxed Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford in January. He also did a number on Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur in February.
And he very nearly took points off Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in December.
Pretty football here and there, we need to see it more often
It ended up being a fairly rare occurrence. But Wolves did actually play some absolutely fantastic football at times in 2021/22.
Wanderers were a delight to watch in the first three games, despite the fact they ended up losing 1-0 on each occasion.
Perhaps the negative results caused Lage to change things up and adopt a more conservative approach.
The exciting, attacking football would appear here and there, but Wolves definitely had trouble in the final third.
Wolves at least showed the potential to play attractive football. Hopefully, maybe a change of system might see it return on a more consistent basis next season.
The emergence of Max Kilman
What a season it was for Max Kilman.
Last season, fans often clamoured for the central defender to play more often, as Wanderers leaked goals over the course of a tough season.
This term, Lage turned to him from the off and he was absolutely outstanding in the first two-thirds of the campaign playing in the right of a back three.
He showed fantastic confidence in everything he did; from winning aerial duels to dribbling out from the back.
Kilman’s form had many people taking about him as a potential England call-up. But sadly, his form deserted him at the wrong time.
And Kilman then got injured towards the end of the season, which ended up stinging Wolves.
Hopefully all goes well with his recovery, and he can be a solid and reliable performer once more in 2022/23.
Jose Sa the bargain
When Rui Patricio departed and Jose Sa came in as his replacement, more than a few eyebrows were raised.
The club had replaced Portugal’s number one with an uncapped Portuguese goalkeeper who had been playing in Greece. How was this a good idea?
Sa very quickly proved himself to be an actual upgrade on Patricio, and is now a firm favourite at Molineux,
The star made some absolutely crucial saves throughout the season, and is a big reason Wolves didn’t finish any lower down in the end.
The fact he cost just under £7 million is difficult to believe. Whoever identified him deserves immense credit.
General player development
One of the things we were hearing about Lage ahead of his arrival at Molineux was the fact he was a good developer of players.
Joao Felix became a superstar under him at Benfica, and fans were excited to see who he could bring out the best in at Molineux.
Lage has improved quite a number of players at Wolves already.
Ruben Neves was outstanding. Joao Moutinho rediscovered his mojo for the most-part. Rayan Ait-Nouri’s game has come on leaps and bounds. Kilman was exceptional at the back. Nelson Semedo really shone after a tricky first term at Molineux, before picking up a couple of injuries.
And Daniel Podence really responded well to Lage’s arrival, and is now arguably Wolves most dangerous attacker.
Of course, there are a few players who didn’t really kick on. But for the most-part, he has prompted a good level of improvement within the squad.
The mid-season signing of Chiquinho
Some Wolves fans were left angered that the club did not have a more significant winter window.
Wolves were on the up, and many felt a couple of first-team ready additions could have resulted in a genuine push for Europe.
In the end, Wolves signed little-known trio Hayao Kawabe, Jung Sang-bin and Chiquinho. But it turns out Wolves may have a gem on their hands with the latter.
Chiquinho has, in recent weeks, been cause for real excitement amongst Wolves fans.
The star plays without fear, and works extremely hard for the team. He grabbed two assists in a cameo appearance against Chelsea, and was Wolves’ best player against Manchester City when he started as a wing-back.
Quite possible, he could be the long-term replacement for Adama Traore. He’s obviously still very raw, but he has potential to be absolutely exhilarating.