Wolverhampton Wanderers’ pre-season is now done and dusted – and it’s been an invaluable few weeks for Bruno Lage.
The new head coach has overseen six official games, winning two (vs Real Betis and Coventry City) drawing one (vs Stoke City) and losing three (vs Crewe Alexandra, Las Palmas and Celta Vigo).
There was also a training game against Al Shabab, which Wolves won 2-1.
A mixed bag, then, in terms of results, but what really matters is how the players have been able to adapt to new methods.
Here are the players that, arguably, were the biggest winners of the club’s 2021/22 pre-season:
Gibbs-White finished last term in impressive fashion and was arguably Wolves’ best performer in the final few games.
He’s been looking very sharp in pre-season, and he has needed to.
He looks set to play a fairly prominent role now this season, when he could easily have been farmed out on loan again had he disappointed.
Gibbs-White seemed to be particularly determined to affect games when he was on which was great to see, and he took his goal against Las Palmas really well.
Ait-Nouri looks like he could be a real weapon this season.
The star, signed permanently in July for £9.5 million (The Athletic), really stood out for Wolves in games against Real Betis, Las Palmas and Coventry.
Lage had a tremendous impact on left-back Alejandro Grimaldo at Benfica, turning the star into an assist machine. There is potential for the Frenchman to enjoy a similar sort of development.
Ait-Nouri’s desire to get forward seems to match up really well with the new head coach’s philosophy. The early signs have been great.
Hoever saw very little game time last season due to Nuno Espirito Santo’s unwavering faith in Nelson Semedo.
Well, he’s looked pretty promising in pre-season.
He did give away a penalty against Las Palmas, but also scored a magnificent volley in the same game.
Like Ait-Nouri, he could really benefit from playing under the attack-minded Lage.
It’s good to know that there could well be a fierce battle going on for that right-back/right wing-back position.
That Raul Jimenez is even back out there playing again automatically makes him a big winner.
But actually, the Mexican has looked really good and sharp in the games that he has played. He also scored goals against Al Shabab and Stoke.
That is hugely encouraging and will hopefully give him major confidence going into the new season.
Wolves missed him badly last season, so to have him back is a colossal boost and hopefully, he’ll be on hand to tuck away all the chances the team will inevitably create under this manager.