Brammal Lane

Sheffield United 2-1 Wolves: 5 Things We Learnt

A performance that was deserving of a loss as it often tends to be when Wolves face off the sides that are struggling in the bottom half of the table. Although the penalty that was awarded and converted by Sheffield was very debatable the same as the penalty awarded in the last matchday vs Newcastle.


Lack of firepower

Not terrible in the first half but we never managed to pull the trigger as we looked like we wanted to walk the ball into the net. You could see why Sheffield United sit last in the table as so much space was left in behind, especially on the right-hand side where Nelson Semedo and Hwang Hee-Chan were pushing forward on so many occasions but without much real threat or final product in the end.


Different story with Neto

Unfortunately for us, we will have to do without Pedro Neto for a few more games at best as he recovers from his hamstring injury. Still, you do have to think that had Neto not picked up his injury in the previous fixture, the score and the performance would have most likely been a lot different in this game as he would have had a field day with his pace and dribbling against the Sheffield defenders.


Shocking decisions continue

Another matchday and yet another shocking decision that goes against us, it seems to be the running theme of this season and not only as similar has happened to us in the previous season. Who knows if we will get another apology once again, one table we top for sure but that is meaningless as apologies equate to nothing and the decisions by the referees continue to cost us points along the road. Mistakes are human, everyone makes them but not to this extent as they are repeated and the VAR which is there for these exact reasons is never used effectively.



Non-existent penalty given aside, the performance shown in the second half was deserving of a loss as the team was disjointed, taking too many touches and losing possession far too easily, also there was never really any threat at all going forward when we managed to regain possession and attack the Sheffield goal.


Bellegarde to start in the upcoming fixtures.

With a lovely strike inside the box, we thought he was our saviour as he produced the goods and we all thought we would be heading home at the very least with one point a piece, but it wasn’t to be.

In my opinion, Jean-Ricner Bellegarde is the man who should be replacing the injured Pedro Neto for the upcoming fixtures as he is much more of a threat compared to the other options and doesn’t force us to change formations or styles of play too much as he is the player that comes as close to Neto that we have as options in the squad.




Wolves 2-2 Newcastle: 5 Things With Learnt

Hwang Hee-chan proved the hero as Wolves came from behind twice to earn a draw against Newcastle United on Saturday evening, but what have we learnt from the hard-won point against Eddie Howe’s side? 


Gary O’Neil praised his side’s ability to recover from setbacks in his post-match interview. For the second league game running, Wolves came from behind to earn points, and they had a task on their hands against Newcastle. A calamitous goalkeeping error and a penalty decision (which Gary O’Neil called “scandalous”) enabled Callum Wilson to give the Magpies the lead twice, but Wolves fought back to level the game twice. A crushing hamstring injury to talismanic Pedro Neto shifted the momentum of the game, and in past seasons, Wolves would have crumbled to a late Newcastle winner, but yesterday their resilience showed. Given the managerial uncertainty at the beginning of the season, the togetherness and grit pays testament to O’Neil’s management. 

Midfield selection decisions 

Boubacar Traore earned his spot in the starting XI after deputising for the suspended Mario Lemina against Bournemouth but was hooked shortly after mixed showing on the 54th minute. Lemina is seemingly nailed on for O’Neil’s midfield pivot against Sheffield United next weekend, but who his partner will be is unclear. Jean-Ricner Bellegarde is likely to be fit and impressed as a skilful ball-carrier on his debut, and Tommy Doyle has grown into the quarter-back role, spraying accurate passes and knitting movements together nicely. Traore’s tenacity and energy should equally not be overlooked, but against a Blades side that are likely to sit back, O’Neil might plump for Doyle to harness his skill in moving the ball quickly to stretch what will be a dogged Sheffield United defence. 

Neto’s Injury

Pedro Neto’s hamstring injury is yet to be assessed, but it looks unlikely that he will feature next week. O’Neil has spoken openly about his lack of wide options, and Wolves might be forced to change their forward shape to adopt to a Netoless world. Kalajdzic could feature as the central option, moving Cunha wide, but there are question marks over his ability to play 90 minutes. Fabio Silva might instead make a return to the side. As ever, the young Portuguese has shown flashes of potential but failed to deliver. Could this be this last opportunity to make an impression? 

Unlocking the low block

As Newcastle took the lead after Anthony Taylor’s dubious penalty call, the Toon sat deep and looked to hold on against the Wolves onslaught. It took some outrageous skill from Toti Gomes and Hwang to break down the solid Newcastle defence, but O’Neil will not want to have to rely on individual brilliance to break down Sheffield United on Saturday. Selection priority may be given to players with the technical ability to pick a pass and move the ball rapidly. 

The rise of Hwang

Hwang Hee-chan has divided fans since his initial loan from RB Leipzig: some will recall his disastrous clearance last season that went straight to the feet of Alan Saint-Maximin to clatter a volley in. He has, at times, looked disconnected from play and ponderous. But with six goals this season and a conversion rate of 50% (the best of any player in the league with more than 3 goals), the South Korean is flying. Where Hwang lacks in blistering pace, hold up play or delivery, he more than makes up for in deadly efficiency in the box and an almost supernatural knack for being in the right place at the right time nearly all the time.  


Five Things We Learnt from Wolves 0-4 Leicester City

A disappointing performance and 4-0 defeat at the hands of midlands rivals Leicester City adds another loss to our tally, bringing us to seven defeats in 12 games. Not much was needed by the Foxes to stroll past the Wolves team that was too slow and struggled to build any play at all, often being dispossessed when playing out from the back.


Build up play is was too slow

The build-up and movement of the ball was too slow and allowed the Leicester City players to get back into position and cover the field well, unlike us they managed to get the ball around and moved up the pitch quickly catching us out on the break on various occasions and cutting us open.


We don’t know who’s in charge

It well and truly is a difficult time to be a Wolves fan, performances and most importantly results have been scarce this season, but it is also off the playing field where things have been going continually wrong. Just to name one, the search for a new manager where they had no concrete plan in place which has landed us in the place we are now. Does Scott Sellars have too much power? Is Jeff Shi mismanaging the situation? Do they know what they are doing? I will let you find that out and answer that for yourselves, the only thing that seems to be certain is that there is no clear direction in the club and Steve Davis has a massive weight on his shoulders and needs to be backed by the fans while he is in charge.


A long season awaits

With the current form and the performances, you struggle to see where we can pick up any points at all let alone wins. If this isn’t turned around and it continues until the new year you struggle to see how Shi, Sellars and co will be able to find the adequate replacement to Bruno Lage and which managers will want to take over the challenging role at Wolves. The only good thing is that there is the World cup which might be the break this side needs so they can regroup.


We need to make changes

It is pretty obvious changes have to be made after this afternoon’s defeat, one obvious one for me is Jonny Otto.  It feels like every time I watch or write about Wolves games, he is a standout and It isn’t for good performances, but more the opposite as he is too often beaten by the opposition and doesn’t offer much going forward. Although Semedo was at fault for our two goals conceded away at Palace I would much prefer him to play, even Ait-Nouri deserves more of a place in the team than Jonny does but there are only two places to be played for and Bueno has been great in the two games so they will have to battle it out if they want to be starting.  Meanwhile, Boubacar Traore is a player I would bring back into the team as he offers more energy and movement in a slow and immobile midfield.


Time to return to a back 3?

The back four seemed to be easily beaten today and we have lost our last two games while conceding six goals.  Is it time to head back to the three-man defence adding Toti Gomes to add some more security and stability to the team? I think there is a debate to be had here.

Stamford Bridge

Five Things We Learnt from Chelsea 3-0 Wolves

For the second consecutive Saturday Wolves headed to the capital and returned without a point and without a goal. Chelsea continuously threatened from the start, and the pressure finally paid off when a Kai Havertz header put them ahead with what was the final action of the half. Wolves started the second half brightly, but after Christian Pulisic doubled Chelsea’s advantage, the hosts never looked like relinquishing control. Wolves’ misery was compounded when Armando Broja – who was linked with Wolves in the summer – added a third goal, the same number that Wolves have managed all season. Here are five things we learned:

Guedes continues to struggle

It would be a stretch to say that Wolves’ lack of firepower is a new thing learned, but this was one of the more concerning goalless displays  due to how much new summer signing Goncalo Guedes struggled. The Portuguese international looked devoid of confidence, and the fact that Diego Costa’s presence did not have the desired effect in the slightest is of great concern. Guedes was substituted at half time.

The full backs, especially Semedo, also failed to add any attacking impetus. Daniel Podence also had one of his poorest games, giving the ball away far too often.

Problems playing out from the back

To an even greater extent than in most previous weeks, the defence ran into trouble several times playing it out from the back. For years the team’s ability to play out from the back so well was instrumental to their success, particularly under Nuno. Conor Coady, as chief organiser, deep-lying sweeper, and a fantastic ball player, was integral to this, and his departure has seriously hampered the team. There seemed to be a severe lack of skill, structure, ideas, and confidence at the start of every move. Jose Sa is perhaps the biggest culprit, a far cry from last season. Toti Gomes defended bravely throughout but struggled on the ball.

A severe headache for the new manager

Several fans and journalists alike suggested after Bruno Lage’s sacking that prospective managers should be relishing the chance to coach a team with such a high level of talent and potential. However, if the club’s next manager was watching on, they will have quickly developed a headache. As well as the previously discussed issues at either end of the pitch, it was clear at Stamford Bridge that the team’s spirit levels quickly needs galvanizing more than ever before. It is clear that the much repeated “lack of a focal point” has simply been the tip of the iceberg, with Wolves’ problems running far deeper.

Chelsea outshone Wolves in every department, despite leaving out several key players following their champions league exploits during the week.

The new manager will also have limited options to work with on the bench, as Steve Davis found out today. Only eight subs were named out of the nine allowed, and out of these eight only two players have started a premier league match before.

Promising signs from Hodge

However, one substitute who Steve Davis will be glad he turned to is Joe Hodge. The 20-year-old replaced Guedes at half time and continually showed for the ball and kept things ticking in midfield. His positive intent, fearlessness, and determination was admirable, and the brief improvement shown by the team after half time can largely be attributed to Hodge’s introduction. This will surely be the first of several appearances this season for Hodge, who can be proud of his first Premier League performance.

Class is permanent in midfield

Hodge was not the only small positive amidst the current sea of negativity. Matheus Nunes showed several signs of his talent on the ball, with one spectacular run in the first half a particular standout that will excite fans and the new manager alike.

Some praise must also go to Joao Moutinho. While he might not be performing at the world-class levels of four seasons ago, the thirty-six year old hardly put a foot wrong, and at Stamford Bridge he seamlessly slotted into the deeper midfield role usually occupied by Ruben Neves. In the first half in particular Jonny was at the end of some sumptuous passes from the veteran midfielder.

Like against Spurs and Newcastle, it was certainly not in midfield where the points were lost today.


Five Things We Learnt from Wolves 0-2 West Ham

Two disappointing teams came to a head in East London live on Sky Sports and Wolves emerged with the demoralising defeat which dropped them into the relegation zone. After a quick start with three good Wolves chances, Gianluca Scamacca followed up from a blocked Jarrod Bowen shot to give the hosts the lead after half an early, and early in the second half Bowen himself beat José Sá at his near post. Diego Costa made his debut for Wolves in a bitterly disappointing performance which has the club looking over their shoulder at a potential relegation battle. Here are five things we learnt:


Style over substance

Wolves started well in East London, with a couple of early chances and going close through efforts from Daniel Podence, Matheus Nunes and Jonny in the first ten minutes. While these chances would have worried West Ham, Wolves never threatened in and around the goal and bar Podence forcing Fabianski to tip over the opposition keeper wasn’t tested.

Wolves amassed 60% possession and an 87% passing accuracy but translated it into just 0.74 xG. (InfoGol). The story once again is that Wolves play the ball around but have next-to-no end product and while there was slightly more threat upon Diego Costa’s entry to the pitch, there wasn’t enough creativity from a team that needs goals urgently.

It feels like Bruno Lage is running out of chances to remedy the issue – Wolves will hope that the lack of chance creation is either something he can remedy or one of his successor’s talents.

Team selection mystery

The team selection was a head-scrathcer from the beginning. A five at the back with Rúben Neves and Jonny alongside Max Kilman at centre back was an unheard-of lineup and had the signs of a manager out of ideas.

Whether it was because of Neves looking comfortable when having to drop into defence against Man City a fortnight ago or because five defenders provided one of Wolves’ better performances last season at home to West Ham in November, the shuffling of players out of position meant two in midfield and a disjointed defensive shape and the lack of central numbers provided acres of space for Kehrer in the build-up to West Ham’s second goal.

Ignoring Toti Gomes, who stepped in admirably two wins last season, was surprising and suggested a lack of trust in his Nathan Collins’ supposed understudy. Toti will almost certainly have to play with no Collins or Neves available against Chelsea, and if Lage is still in charge then he may have a job reinforcing the young defender’s confidence.


Nunes’ quality evidenced again

Matheus Nunes has showed signs of real quality in his short time at Molineux so far. Having held out for a move to a bigger team until late August, he has demonstrated his talent in every game since his arrival. His ability to retain possession of the ball while moving the team forward has added a different dimension to the Wolves midfield and he could yet offer the flexibility to play with a two or three man midfield, which has been tested by the lack of mobility of Neves and João Moutinho.

Nunes’ removal by Lage after 73 minutes had the signs of a manager who had given up on the game. With his desire to play at a higher level and obvious capability as a Champions League-level player, Wolves fans might need to enjoy him while they can, while ruing that the slow start to the season is wasting having a truly special player breaking from midfield.


Costa and Campbell show signs of life

After Wolves brought Diego Cost and Chem Campbell on there was a brief spark. Costa should have done better from a headed chance he put wide, but looked good on the ball and did his best to link the play to try and spark a Wolves revival from two goals down. Playing in his first game of 2022, he also set up Podence for a disallowed tap in after timing his run well (with Traoré’s delayed through ball playing him offside) and was the much needed ‘presence’ in the box that Wolves haven’t had for months if not years.

Campbell also showed confidence in what was only his third appearance for Wolves in the Premier League. He showed for the ball almost immediately and cut in and shot wide – Wolves will hope he doesn’t have to play many minutes but there are signs that he may have a future at the club.


Wolves haven’t replaced Diogo Jota

The last time Diogo Jota played for Wolves was arguably the best campaign in half a century, with a seventh placed finish and a run to the quarter finals of the Europa League. While he was a source of frustration for Wolves fans at the back end of the first lockdown affected season, Wolves have struggled to attack ever since his departure.

Not only was he able to dovetail effectively with a pre-injury Raúl Jimènez, he offered consistent goal threat and arguably the most lacking quality for Wolves recently, instinctive decision making in the final third and progressive ball carrying. While Traoré, Podence, Neto and recently Guedes have shown flashes as forward players, no one has replicated Jota’s threat since he went to Anfield. Granted, Wolves have made a managerial and system changes since then, but the hesitation as players enter the final third harks back to days when Jota would ragdoll defenders, shoot on sight and rack up significant goal figures in the process.


Five Things We Learnt From Wolves 0-3 Man City

Well that was…a football match. Man City are a pain to play at the best of times – even before they added Haaland – and any team that goes down to ten men doesn’t often stand a chance.  It also tends to help if you don’t concede within the first minute so perhaps we were fools for expecting too much. I also can’t quite get over how they stopped a football match for an entire minute to applaud The Queen. Time for a lie down.

A strange old game

In truth, there’s not much we can really take away from the actual game. When Manchester City open the scoring after 55 seconds and one of your centre backs decides to go all ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ on Jack Grealish half an hour in, there isn’t really much you expect from the team. To the players’ credit, at no point did they look like giving up and there were occasional flashes of brilliance from the starting front three. Once again, the lack of an out and out striker hurt Wolves in the final third of the pitch.

Kilman was at fault for the second goal and only the Lord knows what Collins was thinking when he misplaced his boot into Grealish’s stomach, but apart from that it wasn’t a terrible performance – and one that might have produced a point or three if the opponents weren’t the best team in the world.

In addition, the fact Wolves limited the alien creature that is Erling Haaland to a single goal and kept the overall damage to three can be described as making the best of a bad situation.

The press and the (misplaced) pass

In the first half of the first half and at points in the second, Wolves looked like a half decent team. The high press caused the City defenders fits at times and there were occasions when Wolves won the ball back high in City’s own half and were actively looking to run straight at their defence. That’s the positive bit.

The negative is that we looked often devoid of ideas when the ball was around the edges of City’s box, and again Neto looks a player confused at his role on the pitch. Too often, he made the wrong decision just as he did against Southampton earlier this month and when you’re playing a team the stature of Man City, wasting these precious chances is a terrible crime.

Fear, fear and more fear

I understand why so many teams play out from the back. It’s more structured than just whacking the ball halfway up the pitch, can keep defender’s sharp and on their toes and, when done right, can be a thing of beauty. However, failing to adapt to what clearly was a tactic playing right into City’s hand was a mistake and gifted ready-made chances to their front line.

As a general rule:

Times to play out from the back – when you’re comfortably winning, when you’re playing inferior opposition, when you’re slowly building into the game.

Times not to play out from the back – when you’re 3-0 and a man down against Manchester City.

Wolves’ squad management is poor

There isn’t much to say apart from the fact that Wolves now have five senior strikers on their books (Jimenez, Costa, Kalajdzic, Fabio Silva and Bonatini) and not one of them made the match-day squad. Letting Fabio go out on loan is probably a sensible decision in the long term (and is justified by his performances for Anderlecht), but for Wolves to not have a single available striker yet again is clumsy and has actively cost the team points already this year.

On the other side of the pitch, Wolves’ CBs are now Max Kilman, Toti Gomes (4 appearances) and Yerson Mosquera (Nine minutes). Signing Collins remains a good piece of business, but Wolves lost Coady, Boly and Saiss in the summer and now evidently don’t have back-ups that Lage is willing to bring on, given that Neves seemingly played in defence for an hour. I’ve no idea how we’re going to cope without Collins for three matches.

In addition to all of this, The Athletic’s analysis of Wolves’ submitted squad shows that next season there’s going to be a struggle to register all of our international players. Careful thought will be needed when next summer comes around.

Refereeing in the Premier League

When Jon Moss and Mike Dean retired, the more foolish amongst us thought it might spark just the smallest hint of change in the controversy-laden halls of PGMOL. More fool us.

Instead, the standard of refereeing has fallen off a cliff. Referees have clearly been told to let the game flow, which in itself it a good thing. But this poses two main problems.

The first one is consistency. Different referees clearly have opposing views on what constitutes a foul and there were several little incidents today that would have been fouls last week but seemingly aren’t this week. Anthony Taylor was pretty consistent in this match (although some, including this author, would argue he was far too lenient) but other weeks have seen vast changes between what is permitted in the first half compared to the second.

The second issue is VAR (shock!). A foul might not be given initially, in line with the new guidance, and play continues. If this doesn’t lead to a goal, then nothing happens and the match continues with the only consequence being disgruntled mutterings in the crowd. But say the ball ends up in the back of the net, VAR more often than not will bring the action back to the tackle, redesignate it a foul and rule out the goal. Neto’s disallowed goal against Newcastle fell foul of this, as did a disallowed Man United goal against Liverpool in August.

A more free-flowing match is the right idea, but once again the inconsistency of our referees are making it much harder than it should be.


Five Things We Learnt From Bournemouth 0-0 Wolves

Well, that was terrible. An incredibly drab 0-0 draw with Bournemouth was probably both your average Wolves fan’s worst fear and tragic pre-match prediction. I’d try to summarise the highlights but beyond Nunes’ first half attempt striking the bar and Podence’s header (yes header) being blocked on the line, this really was one of the low points of Bruno Lage’s tenure in charge of the Old Gold.

Here’s five things we learnt:

Something is very, very wrong

Perhaps the heading is a slight understatement. On paper, Wolves have a squad that’s easily capable of challenging for a top half position, maybe Europe if we’re feeling generous. None of our midfield three would look out of place in Europe, Jose Sa was one of the top keepers in Europe’s top five leagues last season and there’s enough exciting young talent dotted throughout the team to make even the most passionate Football Manager player jealous. So why are we in the relegation zone having only taken three points from a kind set of opening fixtures?

The long and short of it is something just isn’t clicking. We can have all these players but if the team as a whole isn’t creating any chances, then we’re going to struggle in a league as competitive as the Premier League. We’ve always struggled to break down the more defensive teams but to have only four shots on target against a team that is widely tipped to go down…isn’t ideal. Until the last 15 minutes, you could probably count on one hand the number of times we got the ball into Bournemouth’s box and, against a team which conceded nine last time out, this is simply not good enough.

Chief amongst the culprits last night were Jimenez (more on him later) and Jonny; but in truth I could easily have listed any one of our starting eleven. To put it simply, when a squad of this quality is struggling to beat (or even score against) the likes of Bournemouth, Fulham and Preston then eyes have to turn towards the person in the dugout.

We need to talk about Bruno

Bruno Lage has now been in charge of Wolves for 48 matches in all competitions. The last time Wolves scored more than once in the Premier League was Match #38 against Chelsea. The last time Wolves scored more than once in the Premier League and won was Match #31 against Aston Villa (so there’s a silver lining). There have been problems outside the manager’s control of course; Neto’s return from injury springs to mind as does last season’s mess of a transfer window. But questions have to now be at the very least entertained about how Bruno has this team set up and, more importantly, his mid-match tactics.

Let’s be fair: last season is not this season and, in truth, the formation itself isn’t really the problem. Wolves were on their way to three points last week until Hwang hee-Chan decided out of the kindness of his heart to gift Newcastle a draw. Individual errors have played their part this season. Wolves have continued to look mostly solid at the back but something isn’t quite clicking with the three up top. It’s no coincidence our best chances against Bournemouth came when Podence and Traore entered the field of play.

Whilst they were undoubtedly the right subs, introducing them with only 15 minutes left of the clock has to be queried; sticking with a clearly sub-par Jimenez for the entire match was also strange. Bruno isn’t a lost cause yet, but it’s not hard to see, especially with the upcoming run of games (Southampton, Liverpool, Man City), real questions being asked of his managerial ability in the coming weeks. The #BrunoOut group of Wolves fans will have plenty of ammunition from this game and with five points picked up from our last 36 available, it’ll be hard to argue against them.

Defensive Stability

I thought long and hard about a positive takeaway from yesterday’s game before finally settling on the performance of Kilman and Collins. Transitioning to four at the back was never going to be easy but – whisper it – it appears to be going off without a hitch. Collins looks to be an astute bit of business and Kilman doesn’t look too out of place in a back four.

It’s not perfect by any means; there were a couple of times against Bournemouth things looked a bit dicey. It’s obvious as mentioned last week that Kilman is going to have to get used to there being no Coady-like figure lurking just behind him, and the space between the centre backs and the midfield is something to keep a cautious eye on, but the early signs are this particular experiment hasn’t failed.

Trouble up top

It’s fair to say that Raul Jimenez’s injury threw our last season under Nuno into complete disarray. It forced Fabio Silva into a starring role far too early for anyone’s liking, caused an absolute madness of a January transfer window (Cutrone recalled! Gibbs-White recalled! Cutrone gone again! Willian Jose in!) and robbed Wolves of one of our best players. What’s more worrying is that it still seems to be affecting our season nearly two years on.

We can all agree that he hasn’t been the same player since his return from injury, and we should perhaps be thankful he’s even able to run around a pitch but he looks a player out of confidence and, crucially, out of position. The number of times the ball was fired into the penalty area only to find absolutely no-one was frankly a joke. Bournemouth were clearly playing for a point from the start and packing their box with players but too often there was either no one challenging or a winger who’d sprinted their way to the back post.

Raul’s strength used to be his link up play but we now have a spare midfielder who can do this job as a result of going to four at the back. Wolves’ exciting new signing Saša Kalajdžić will provide his first real competition since he joined the club (Sorry Patrick). It might just what he needs to get firing for Wolves again.

A successful transfer window?

This is the last match Wolves will play under the looming shadow of the summer transfer window. Results have obviously not been fantastic, and neither have performances, but many a Wolves fan (this one included) will be happy with the work done in the market over the last two months.

We all knew big signings were needed and for a long time it looked like this wouldn’t be the case. But something changed only a few weeks back, suddenly Wolves’ ‘we need to sell to buy’ was thrown out of the window and the club has splashed the cash on a new CB, CM, winger and forward. Nunes looks to be a fantastic piece of business and Collins too has proved £20m was a worthwhile fee to acquire his services. Guedes looks bright (albeit a little dimmer against Bournemouth) and Kalajdžić looks set to terrorise defenders with his frankly absurd height and equally absurd ability holding up the ball in the box.

We’ve sold well too; forcing Nottingham Forest to pay over £40m for Gibbs White is fantastic bargaining at a time when our other outgoings may have been questioned. Loaning out Coady to a divisional rival seems a little too friendly for my liking and tonight showed we left it a little too late to boost our forward options. Overall though, we’ve strengthened where we needed to strengthen, just perhaps a little too late…

Still, at least we still have Hwang.


Five Things We Learnt From Wolves 1-1 Newcastle

After yet another 1-1 draw with Newcastle, Wolves sit in the relegation zone and will be looking to escape from it as soon as possible. A fairly even game saw a Rúben Neves rocket answered by an even more spectacular effort from Allan Saint-Maximin on the volley. Newcastle then hit the bar and Wolves had a Raúl Jiménez goal disallowed by VAR in what was a back and forth game, in which a draw was probably a fair result if slightly generous towards the hosts.

Here are five things we learnt:

Wolves have a first choice right back

Having had to win over supporters after an inflated fee and flaky opening to his Molineux career, Nelson Semedo was brilliant yesterday.

Marking up against maybe the most dangerous dribbler in England not named Adama Traoré, the Portugal international clamped Allan Saint-Maximin for large periods of Sunday’s game. The Newcastle winger had shredded defending champions Manchester City last week but Semedo nullified his threat with discipline and tenacity.

He made some key defensive interventions, including a great covering challenge to stop Miguel Almirón scoring for the visitors, and is a great outlet as a ball carrier up the right flank. With Jonny Otto now fully back and fit, Semedo has fought off the competition for his jersey with significant defensive improvement and continued attacking promise (although the coaching staff will want better end product).

The jersey is now his – Jonny and an out of form Rayan Aït-Nouri are now competing for a starting spot on the left hand side.


Rúben Neves is really good

Neves lived up to his stereotype with a trademark long-range effort beyond the reach of Nick Pope in the first half, but the new Wolves captain had a magnificent all-around game too.

His statistical performance makes for enjoyable reading as he got forward with 10/13 long passes completed, and 11 passes into the final third. He dug in defensively too, winning important challenges on the edge of the box and recovering the ball 10 times [Statman Dave].

He has the aura of a leader, and having two quality midfielders alongside him allowed him to cover plenty of ground and be an influence at both ends of the pitch. This was one of a number of Neves masterclasses and will leave fans desperate for a rumoured long-term contract to come to fruition, or at the very least to keep him beyond the end of the transfer window.


Guedes is an attacking upgrade

Gonçalo Guedes has been rumoured to be a Wolves player for a couple of transfer windows and has settled in comfortably. He looked excellent last week against Spurs and continued to be a threat at Molineux, particularly early on.

He provided the pass for Neves’ long distance goal during the second phase after a corner and showed a significant desire to get forwards. He adds ball carrying skills to a good goal record, and the hope will be that he can demonstrate the latter in old gold as soon as possible. He’s looked the brightest of Wolves attackers since coming into the side and has an assertiveness that Wolves lacked for lots of last season.

With rumours of a striker coming in there could be a lot of change in Wolves’ frontline, but Guedes’ start to his Wolves career suggests that he might get the opportunity to star as the team desperately look for new sources of goals.


New balance

Wolves showed that they will be much more open this season than last. This might seem obvious with the change of personnel to remove a defender from the squad, but it is apparent that Max Kilman and Nathan Collins will not be given extra protection and will be relied upon the break the press and begin attacks from centre back.

This comes with an added risk while the two are on the ball, and Collins was left vulnerable a couple of times while playing out from the back yesterday. It also means that there is plenty of space in between midfield, and Newcastle were able to loft balls into that area a couple of times. The emphasis will be on Kilman and Collins to excel individually in match ups and use their athleticism and technical ability to keep José Sá’s goal safe.

At the other end Wolves will get more men forward, even if that has currently produced the joint second lowest goal return in the league. Matheus Nunes in particular found himself on the end of half chances by making late breaks into the Newcastle box and the challenge for Bruno Lage is making this most of this new, less rigid structure.


Bruno Lage needs results

While 19th isn’t necessarily a fair reflection on Wolves’ first four games, they (and particularly the manager) need to start accruing points and quickly. A win today would have possibly papered over some cracks against a team missing Bruno Guimarães and Callum Wilson, and doubts about Lage are slowly solidifying with each week that goes by.

Only 4 points won from the last 33 is an indictment of the problems he has had, and while he deserves time to bed new signings in, he now has a squad that quality-wise is amongst the top seven or eight clubs in the country. If he doesn’t start making good on an unexpected level of support then Fosun may be left with a headache about the head coach.

We said last week that Wolves needed to win games and fast – this was a missed opportunity, and failure to win either of the next two games against Bournemouth (A) and Southampton (H) will see negativity that Lage has largely been able to avoid so far, and he may struggle to survive it.


Five things we learnt from Wolves’ defeat to Spurs

Wolves are still searching for their first win of the 22/23 season after being edged out by Spurs in North London.

The team played their best football of the season in the first half against a good Tottenham side, but a close-range header from Harry Kane was enough to see off Wolves.

Whilst there were positives and moments of quality, Wolves still struggled to create any real opening, especially in the second half, and never looked as if they were going to get back into the game.

One point and one goal from three is far from ideal, and Wolves will need to start putting the ball in the net sooner rather than later if they are to have a successful season.

Here are five things we learnt following Saturday’s defeat.

Wolves NEED a striker and they need it now

From the first three games of the season, we have seen that Wolves can get into promising positions, but what they can’t seem to do is turn those positions into goals, and it’s going to keep costing them.

Whilst Harry Kane’s goal can be classified as a simple tap-in, his movement to get in behind Collins and anticipate the flick-on is what all good strikers have, and is what helps them score the number of goals they do.

Wolves didn’t have anyone on the pitch yesterday with that natural striker’s instinct, and they can’t rely on Podence, Neto and Guedes to fill this void.

Whilst the signing of Nunes showed great ambition by the club in a position that was desperately needed, a striker being brought in is now just as vital in the coming weeks, and could be the difference between Wolves being a good side or a great side.

It’s probably best to part ways with Adama Traore

On his day he is one of the most frightening footballers on the planet, the big issue is the day doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon, and it certainly wasn’t on Saturday.

For the most part, he looked uninterested, didn’t want to run and didn’t have any real impact, his head just doesn’t seem to be in it since the loan to Barcelona. With one year left on his contract and him not looking likely to sign an extension, along with the arrival of Guedes, it seems the best time to cash in on Adama and use the money to help fund a new striker.

It’s a shame because there truly is no one in world football like him, especially as someone to come off the bench he is perfect, but if he doesn’t want to be here there is no point letting him run down his contract whilst at the same time seeing no value on the pitch.

Guedes looked a real threat

Our most likely route to a goal yesterday was through the Portuguese winger (no not that one…or that one) who looked sharp on the ball and made a brilliant couple of runs in behind the Tottenham defence, one in particular where Sanchez had to make a brilliant last stitch tackle to deny the 27 million pound man.

Very direct when on the ball and was causing issues for the Spurs back line in the first half. You can see he is going to cause defenders a lot of problems this season, and he is only going to get better as he continues to settle and adapt to the Premier League.

We can’t be going into another game with Podence as a striker

Podence is a wonderful footballer and one of the best creators at the club, but what he most definitely isn’t is a striker. This one feels a bit harsh because it’s not his fault and again refers back to the lack of striker depth in the squad (it was good to see Jimenez back though, in what could be the quickest recovery from injury ever!)

For a team that currently has the second most crosses in the league, having 5 foot 4 inch Daniel Podence as the target man didn’t seem like it was ever going to be an effective tactic – and to absolutely no one’s surprise it wasn’t.

Whilst his role seemed to be more as a false nine rather than a traditional striker it’s clear to see that it is not going to be a successful long-term strategy. Wolves need to get Podence playing off a striker and creating chances, which is what he’s good at, rather than competing for headers with Eric Dier, Christian Romero and Davidson Sanchez.

The next three games are massive

Whilst there are reasonable concerns with the lack of goals and points Wolves currently have, Wolves starting 11 on the weekend was up there as one of the best in the Premier League era. The squad is very close to being complete and with the final piece (a striker) of the puzzle, Wolves would have one hell of a team.

Having said that, Wolves are winless since last season’s home win against Aston Villa, and in the current footballing climate patience is hard to come by and points will be needed against Newcastle, Bournemouth and Southampton, or Bruno Lage could find himself without a job if Wolves were to lose all three.

There is still no reason to panic and the future looks bright for Wolves, but they will want to be getting away from the relegation zone as soon as possible.


Five Things We Learnt About Wolves’ Draw with Fulham

Wolves secured their first point of the new league season following a goalless draw at home to newly promoted Fulham.

José Sá came to the rescue for Wolves deep into the second half as he saved Alexsandar Mitrovic’s penalty, after the Fulham forward was brought down by Rayan Aït-Nouri.

Wolves struggled to create after the opening ten minutes, and proved once again how necessary new additions are going to be to the teams success this season.

Here are five things we learnt following the draw.

The lack of a goal scorer is going to prove costly 

Wolves’ main concern last season was the lack of goals the side scored, and two games into the new campaign, that problem is still evidently there.

Pedro Neto and Morgan Gibbs-White both missed fantastic chances for the home side, and Wolves only forced Fulham’s goalkeeper Marek Rodák into one save all game.

Wolves top scorer last year was Raul Jimenez, with just six goals, and with no out and out striker yet to be brought, the problems are evident to see.

New addition Goncalo Guedes could hopefully take some relief off of these problems, but more is needed for the side.

The centre-back partnership were able to contain Mitrovic

Mitrovic has lived in the nightmares of Wolves defenders over the last few years, with many struggling to deal with his bullish attacking style.

However, Max Kilman and Nathan Collins managed to keep Fulham’s star striker quiet throughout the majority of the game, something that one of the leagues best defences at Liverpool were unable to do last week.

The partnership looked solid at Leeds, but has grown once again this week, both looking very comfortable on the ball and are clearly on each other’s wave length.

Nelson Semedo looked in great shape

Semedo has been out injured for Wolves since the end of the previous season, but that wasn’t evident when he came on late in the game on Saturday.

The full back only played 20 minutes of action but put in arguably the best delivery of the game for Wolves, following a great drive down the left hand side.

Defensively, he also looked solid, and with Jonny’s early struggles for Wolves this year, Semedo may find that his starting role may be easier to regain than initially thought.

Sa can save penalties

José Sá has been one of the most important signings Wolves have made since returning to the Premier League, as the goalkeeper quickly proved himself to be one of the best in the league.

However, one issue he’s always had was saving penalties, which he finally did for the first time against Fulham, as he saved Mitrovic’s effort down to his right hand side.

Sá was much more composed against Fulham than at Leeds last week, where he made a couple of erratic decisions, but the keeper looked much more like his usual self last weekend.

Wolves will be in desperate need for another fantastic year out of Sá, after the Portuguese goalkeeper had one of the most successful statistical seasons in Premier League history last season.

Gibbs-White is up for a fight

Not many players have the bravery to get into the face of Alexandar Mitrovic, but Gibbs-White didn’t back down after being taken out by the striker on a counter attack.

Both players received a yellow card for the incident, but he’s proving he is willing to give his all for the shift, despite speculation of a move away from Molineux.

Gibbs-White is going to be a key figure for Wolves this year, his creativity is something that Wolves’ attack missed last season, and his drive with the ball is something that has also been lacking.

Him and Daniel Podence were prone to a few too many fancy flicks that didn’t come off on Saturday, but if he keeps playing consistently well it’ll be clear to see why Wolves have valued him so high.