Wolves beat the Crusaders on Thursday night in the first leg of the Europa League qualifying rounds. The Molineux faithful saw their team come out decisive winners thanks to a comfortable 2-0 scoreline.
But, while the win was easy enough, the lack of goals emphasised Nuno Espirito Santo’s biggest problem.
Wolves haven’t fixed last season’s biggest issue
Nuno’s men thoroughly deserved to beat the Crusaders, but the pack should’ve seen more than just two goals. And this is Wolves’ biggest problem.
Wolves had 80% possession, 90% pass accuracy, and 30 shots, yet they only managed to score twice. This is mostly because they were wasteful in front of goal with only 10 shots on target.
For the 29,000 attendance at Molineux, the performance was frustratingly similar to the one-sided contests against Burnely, Huddersfield and Brighton last season. Matches which ended with a 1-0 win, a 1-0 loss, and a dull 0-0 draw.
Nuno’s men are devastating on the counter, but when they’re asked to be the footballing side they struggle to blow down even the weakest of houses.
There’s more than one reason for this:
First, the passing is always in front of the opposition. This results in the movement being too slow and the opposition always having enough time to reorganise themselves.
In order to be successful against the relegation fodder, Nuno must order his players to be more direct and play one-touch football. They also try to pass behind the opposition’s defence rather than just in front of it.
Purists will argue that Wolves are trying to play football the right way, but they resemble Spain at their worst rather than Pep Guardiola at his best.
Another cause of Wolves’ lack of goals is the bench being too sparse.
Matt Doherty was sorely missed thanks to Adama Traore boasting a crossing accuracy of about 0.1%, and Romain Saiss isn’t a player who will ever add excitement and goals. Saiss’ job is to help secure a comfortable victory by shoring up the midfield or defence, but he was still brought on against the Crusaders because Nuno didn’t have any other options.
To rectify this significant dilemma, Wolves must buy attackers who can play differently and provide competition to the starting XI.