At clubs everywhere, there’s always one player that is really unlucky for one reason or another – and at Wolves, that player is Toti Gomes.
At the weekend, Toti came into Wolves’ starting XI at left-back – a move not many saw coming.
With Jonny Castro Otto suspended, Rayan Ait-Nouri seemed the logical selection. Hugo Bueno was said to be 90% ahead of the game, which surely made the Algerian the favourite.
But it was Toti who came in.
And while he had some uncomfortable moments against Brennan Johnson, Toti had a good game against Nottingham Forest. Especially when he moved inside after Craig Dawson was substituted off.
Lopetegui was really pleased with his display, and singled him out for praise after the game.
That was Toti’s first Premier League appearance since the 1-0 win over West Ham United in January. And it was his first start in the competition since November 12 against Arsenal.
In total this season, Toti has made just 11 first-team appearances. Only seven of those have been starts.
In total since he came back from Grasshoppers to join Wolves’ first-team squad in January 2022, he has made just 16 appearances for Wolves.
When you think about it, given the way he has played generally, this is a travesty.
In the vast majority of games Toti has played for Wolves, he has been solid, composed and reliable.
He is just really unlucky. Because he had Conor Coady, Max Kilman, Romain Saiss, and Willy Boly ahead of him last season.
He briefly became third choice when Coady, Saiss and Boly all departed and only Nathan Collins came in.
But in January, Wolves signed Craig Dawson, meaning he is pretty much fourth choice again at Molineux.
We know Toti can also play at left-back. But the emergence of Bueno now means opportunities there are also quite unlikely.
Wolves defender Toti Gomes deserves more for how good he is and how hard he works
Wolves changing their system at the start of the season is another thing that has counted against Toti.
He knew the back three system really well, having played it at Grasshoppers.
Wolves no longer use it as their go-to, and when Lopetegui wants to go to a back three mid-game, he has tended to turn to Collins, with Dawson in the middle and Kilman scooting over to the left.
Given the situation Wolves are now in, it’s likely Dawson will be starting every game from here on in. Not only is he a great defender, he is a real leader that Wolves have been lacking. And he has had a positive effect on Kilman.
It leaves Toti, 24, in a frustrating position.
He’s easily good enough to be starting for a string of other Premier League teams.
It was great to see him playing on Saturday, and hopefully he gets the minutes he is deserving of between now and the end of the season.
The likelihood is that Bueno will come back in as a starter at left-back against Chelsea. And that’s probably not something you can argue with.
That’s why Toti is just so unlucky. He doesn’t do anything wrong. And sadly for him, it just is what it is.