With the European Championship ending on Sunday, soon all fans’ focus will turn back onto their clubs.
In Wolverhampton Wanderers’ case, it marks the beginning of a new era. In fact, this will be the club’s first ever Premier League season beginning with a manager who did not achieve promotion with them.
After a turgid 2020/21 season, there are plenty of reasons why fans can be hopeful ahead of the next one.
New dawn with Bruno Lage
Where else could we start? Wolves fans can be really excited about Lage. Not only did he win a league title in his first season of management, but it was also accomplished with a swashbuckling style of football.
Deploying a 4-4-2, Lage’s Benfica broke numerous records en route to delivering the team’s last Liga Nos title in 2019. If he can replicate some of those club feats at Wolves, then it could be a match made in heaven.
After a disappointing end to his time at Benfica, Lage will be desperate to make his mark at Wolves. The club also showed a serious signal of intent by confirming his appointment just weeks after the departure of Nuno Espirito Santo.Embed from Getty Images
Return of Raul Jimenez
The overwhelmingly negative memory for Wolves fans from last season was seeing their star striker suffer a fractured skull at the Emirates Stadium. Not only did it rule the Mexican out for the entire season, but there were also doubts that he would never make a return to the game.
Thankfully for Wolves, their talisman is back in full training as some of the players have returned for pre-season. Even if Wolves get a shadow of the Jimenez they had pre-injury, it will be a marked improvement on their striking options and an amazing recovery for a player whose career hung in the balance less than a year ago.
Jimenez is Wolves’ all-time leading Premier League goalscorer with 34 goals and will be desperate to add to that tally.
Exciting new signings
Although Wolves have only made two new signings so far this summer, they both cement the club’s clear transfer strategy – to buy young, exciting talent.
The biggest name so far is Francisco Trincao, who has arrived with an excellent reputation from Barcelona on loan with an option to buy. Trincao has already starred in the Portuguese league with Braga and featured 28 times in La Liga last season. Additionally, his three goals were an impressive return for a player who, at 21, has plenty of room for development.
The club have also signed a relative unknown in the form of Colombian prospect, Yersan Mosquera. Arriving for £4.5 million, the player has been compared to Everton’s Yerry Mina and for such a low price could prove to be a smart piece of business.
Development of some of Wolves’ existing young talent
In light of the confirmation that Wolves have signed Rayan Ait-Nouri on a permanent contract, with a year’s Premier League experience under their belts, it offers the likes of Ait-Nouri, Fabio Silva and Owen Otasowie the chance to develop even more in the Premier League. Wolves fans should point to the breakout of Pedro Neto last season who enjoyed a stellar campaign.
Another cause for optimism with this is Lage’s excellent reputation with younger players. A lot of this is down to his coaching staff, including Luis Nascimento – one of Lage’s assistants who Fabio Silva has previously described as one of his most influential coaches. Seeing Nascimento and Silva reunite could really see the young striker flourish.
Fresh start for some of Wolves’ players
For all of Nuno’s success at Wolves, his departure may offer some Wolves players who have seen their careers at Molineux stagnate the perfect opportunity to get going again.
Daniel Podence and Leander Dendoncker both underwent difficult campaigns in the old gold and black. Neither was helped by injury, and they both will be eager to impress.
Some of the younger players such as Morgan Gibbs-White and Owen Otasowie may also welcome the managerial change.