Wolves won the Championship in 2017-18 to earn their latest promotion to the top tier. However, unlike most promoted sides, Wolves were blessed with a decent squad and a great manager in Nuno Espirito for the challenge ahead. The talent in Wolves’ side was obvious to see for everyone, and they were expected to easily survive the relegation battle in 2018-19. However, not many had backed them to finish in a European spot in their first season back in the top-flight.
Hence, ahead of the next season, Espirito and his side are faced with an interesting question – can they go any further in this highly competitive league?
Backed by a strong financial backing from the owners, the Midlands club have made huge strides in the last two seasons. In their first season back in the Premier League, they managed to finish seventh in the league table and qualify for European football. One can say that for a side outside the big-six in the league, Wolves have already maximized their potential.
Wolves in Europe. Established in 1954.
Back after 39 years.
— Wolves (@Wolves) July 25, 2019
What are the challenges ahead?
Balancing between Europe and League
It would be interesting to see whether Espirito prioritizes Europa League or focus on the league. In the past, Premier League sides like West Ham United and Burnley have struggled to adjust Thursday night football and the domestic league at the same time. Wolves are back in Europe for the first time since 1980-81, and there is an excitement among the club’s fan base. However, Espirito would need to be really careful with his team management if he wishes his side to match their success from last season.
Lack of transfer activity
For Wolves, another important aspect to worry about this season has been your lack of transfer activity. Meanwhile, their direct rivals like Leicester City and Everton have been quite active in the market, Wolves are yet to add a sign a new name this summer. Their only transfer dealings have been permanent signings of loanees Raul Jimenez and Leander Dedoncker.
Wolves play Northern Ireland side Crusaders FC in a double-legged Europa League qualifier before starting their domestic campaign with a trip to Leicester City on 11th August. Even though Espirito has dismissed warnings of a hectic schedule, the upcoming season would be a real test of his squad’s depth.
Poor form against smaller sides
Wolves upset quite a few major Premier League sides last year, especially at home. However, their form against weaker sides was a cause for concern. Espirito’s players dropped a significant amount of points against sides from the bottom-half. Ultimately, it didn’t cost them much in terms of league positions, but the same might not be the case next season.
Expectations from the upcoming season
Undoubtedly, Wolves’ owners have lofty ambitions and they wouldn’t be satisfied with last season’s success. However, it would be quite unrealistic to expect the side to challenge the top-six this quickly.
If Wolves can manage a decent run in Europe and a league point-total comparable to their last season’s tally, then that would be a job well-done from Espirito and his players.