Premier League team guide: Wolves in the spotlight
Wolves’ promising campaign fizzled out last term, so they will be hoping to stay the course this time around.
The Midlands outfit were in contention for European qualification until the final weeks of 2021-22 — but a late slide saw a top-seven finish evade Bruno Lage’s men.
With the Portuguese tactician set to embark on his second season at Molineux, Wolves supporters will be looking for more consistency from their side in the months ahead.
Last season: 10th
A challenging run of fixtures saw Wolves struggle in the early weeks of last season as they suffered four defeats in their first five matches — losing to Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester United and Brentford.
But it did not take Lage long to turn things around, with a run of four wins and a draw from September to early November steadying the ship.
Positive results continued and Wolves were sitting in seventh place by late February before a trio of consecutive losses proved to be a premonition of what was to come.
The Black Country side did not win any of their final seven fixtures — picking up just two points — to ultimately finish 10th in the table.
It has been a quiet transfer window so far for Wolves, with only Burnley centre-back Nathan Collins arriving at the club.
The Republic of Ireland international, 21, signed for £20.5million and will further improve the team’s watertight rearguard.
But Lage’s side will need to bring in further recruits in the weeks ahead if they have ambitions of securing Europa League football.
4-3-3: Sa; Jonny, Coady, Boly, Ait-Nouri; Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho; Podence, Jimenez, Neto.
Custodian Jose Sa will continue between the sticks this term, alongside a backline of Jonny, captain Conor Coady, Willy Boly and Rayan Ait-Nouri — though new recruit Collins will be looking to force his way into the starting line-up.
Wolves’ midfield trio of Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho look assured of their places, while attackers Daniel Podence, Raul Jimenez and Pedro Neto will hope for more goals this season.
South Korean forward Hee Chan Hwang will provide an alternative option up front.
Star man: Jose Sa
Former Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio consistently impressed at Molineux — but his successor has been even better.
The club moved quickly to replace Patricio following his transfer to Roma last summer, with 29-year-old Sa arriving from Olympiacos for around £6.25m.
It has proven to be money well spent after the Portuguese stopper racked up the best save percentage (79.3%) in the Premier League last season.
Only Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham conceded fewer goals than Wolves’ 43 in 2021-22 — and Sa played a major part in achieving that commendable record.
Up-and-comer: Luke Cundle
Academy graduate Luke Cundle is starting to make his mark at Molineux after breaking into the first-team squad last season.
The 20-year-old midfielder made his Premier League debut at home to Southampton last term before starting against Tottenham in February.
He received rave reviews for his 96% passing accuracy in that match — and went on to play the full 90 minutes away at Newcastle two months later.
Wolves’ No39 will now be looking to feature consistently in Lage’s first XI, after registering seven goals and three assists for the Under-23s in Premier League 2 during 2021-22.
The boss: Bruno Lage
Lage had plenty of experience of English football before arriving at Molineux, having been assistant manager to Carlos Carvalhal at both Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea.
However, it was his work at Benfica that convinced Wolves to appoint the 46-year-old.
The Setubal native coached throughout the Eagles’ youth system and at reserve level before leading the first team to a Primeira Liga title in 2018-19.
Though he struggled to replicate that feat the following season, Wolves’ hierarchy had seen enough — and chose Lage as Nuno Espirito Santo’s replacement last summer.
All information correct as of 10am, August 2, 2022