What Went Wrong for Wolves This Season

Tipped by bookmakers to be an outside shot at upsetting the established order in the Premier League this season, by any metric Wolves have underperformed in 2020/21.

Under Nuno Espirito Santo, this Wolves side has punched above its weight on numerous occasions in the past two years. 

But while Wolves have never done enough to put themselves in danger of anything lower down the table, a top-half finish looks unlikely. In fact, bookmakers have drifted them down the pack in the latest Premier League odds and betting. Undoubtedly Wolves fans were hoping this might be a season that they could push on to bigger and better things – but that will have to wait for another year at least. 

In the two seasons following promotion from the Championship, Nuno took his squad to consecutive seventh-place finishes in the Premier League, including a run to the Europa League quarter-finals last year. But after losing several star players to so-called ‘bigger’ clubs last summer, the Portuguese head coach has endured a difficult campaign in which his side have struggled.

Wolves Toothless Up Front 

Heading into the run-in, Wolves had the fifth-worst goals tally in the Premier League, behind only the relegation zone teams and a Burnley side that hit them for four at Molineux. 

Much of Wolves’ attacking woes revolve around the loss of Raul Jimenez, who suffered a fractured skull in a win over Arsenal in November and was ruled out for much of the season. The Mexican international was Wolves’ top goalscorer for their first two seasons back in the Premier League, including 27 goals in all competitions last year. 

With Jimenez out of the line up as an attacking option, Nuno has been forced to accelerate the development of summer signing Fabio Silva, who arrived from Porto for £35.6m (Via BBC Sport) at the age of only eighteen.

Although talented, Silva has found it tough going in the Premier League at such an early stage in his career. Between him and January loanee Willian José, Wolves’ strikers have contributed only four goals in the league this year. 

Jimenez is not the only absence keenly felt at Molineux. Diogo Jota’s departure to Liverpool in the summer robbed the attacking line of its main source of liveliness and creative energy. Jota was instrumental in Wolves’ 2017/18 promotion campaign and continued to score goals regularly in the Premier League.

Likewise, the transfer of Matt Doherty to Tottenham, where he has struggled to make an impact (Source – Football.London), means this current Wolves squad is a shadow of the side that has been so difficult to beat over the last few years. 

If Wolves are to resume their hunt for European football again next season, first priority will be getting Jimenez back to full health. Nuno will also expect more of his attacking players like Daniel Podence and Adama Traoré, both of whom have immense talent but have lacked consistency either side of highlight-reel performances this season. 

If Nuno can put the pieces back together, Wolves will be back challenging the top sides next year. If not, this season will become the rule, not the exception.

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