Wolves Loanees – How did they get on?

Plenty of players spent the season out on loan playing in many different leagues of all levels gaining promotion, missing out on promotion, avoiding the drop, getting relegated, placing midtable and so on with their respective teams.

Those players being:


Goalkeepers: Matija Sarkic and Jamie Pardington

Defenders: Toti Gomes, Oskar Buur, Ryan Giles, Luke Matheson, Dion Sanderson and Rùben Vinagre

Midfielders: Christian Herc, Bruno Jordão, Connor Ronan and Meritan Shabani

Strikers: Lèo Bonatini, Leonardo Campana, Patrick Cutrone, Rafa Mir and Dongda He.


Here is how they got on this season:

Matija Sarkic

Age: 23

Position: GK

 On loan at: Shrewsbury Town (League One)

Games played: 29

Clean sheets: 11

Goals conceded: 28

Despite some injury troubles that he suffered at the start and the end of the season (knee and quad injury respectively) Sarkic, managed to play a total of 29 games and keep a modest 11 clean sheets with Shrewsbury Town that placed 17th in League One, avoiding the drop to League Two by 7 points with a goal difference of -7. The Vocal Montenegrin shot stopper that can command his area quite well received many plaudits while at Salop, his performances alone earned various points for the club, and you have got to think that if he had a full season without any injuries, he could have helped the team achieve a higher position in the League. A very promising player to keep an eye out for, it will definitely be interesting to see how much Wolves value him and what they will decide to do with him. With all the rumours surrounding the 2 first choice keepers, is another loan on the horizon or will he take up a place in the team as the 3rd or 2nd choice Goalkeeper? We will just have to wait and see.


Toti Gomes

Age: 22

Position: Defender (CB)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 36

Goals: 2

Toti Gomes has been key in Grasshoppers promotion to the Swiss Super League, the Portuguese defender played 36 times and was the outfield player with the most minutes (3094 minutes). Gomes did not have any troubles adapting to Swiss Football at all, he has been regarded by many Grasshoppers fans as one of the best defenders and players at the club and league this season. Without him and his performances, promotion to the top of Swiss football probably would not have been achieved. The tall, quick, and strong defender has had a great season in Switzerland but he did make some mistakes at the end of the season, the best thing for him next season would be another year at Grasshoppers to see how he does in the top league, then you can work from there and see what the next step will be. A good investment overall.



Ryan Giles 

Age: 21

Position: Defender (LWB/LM)

On loan at: Coventry City until January, Rotherham (Championship)

Games played: 44

Goals: 2

Assist: 1

In the end, Rotherham weren’t able to avoid relegation they just didn’t have enough in them and missed out on safety by 2 points. Nonetheless, Ryan Giles had a decent overall season in the Championship with Coventry (in the first half of the season) and Rotherham (in the second half of the season). To get 44 games under your belt at any level is great, especially in the Championship. That many games and minutes can only have done him good. Not to be forgotten is that this was his first year playing in the 2nd tier and the step up he made from the previous season. All this at 21 years of age is a good feat and a good experience for him. Aside from the number of games played, the former England U20 international got a total of 3 goal contributions, it doesn’t sound great, but he did show promise, he was good with the ball, had quick footwork and a good crosser of the ball. There is definitely potential and room for improvement in him, another loan in the Championship where he can get regular gametime is what would be best for him, or do you think he should be at Wolves next season because “Is Rayan Ait-Nouri for 20 million better than Giles?”.

Dion Sanderson

Age: 21

Position: Defender (CB/RB)

On loan at: Sunderland (League One)

Games played: 27

Goals: 1

Dion Sanderson got off to a slow start at Sunderland, he didn’t get regular game time at the Stadium of Light until Lee Johnson took charge. He only managed a few games here and there, but as the season progressed he made the CB position his own at the Black Cats. He had an extended run of 18 games in the team with him playing the full 90 minutes in 14 of those games, he would have played even more games if he hadn’t suffered a back injury that kept him out for the final and decisive games of the season. His performances were good and he got praise from many Sunderland fans, so much that he won the Young Player of the Season. Following his performances and with just one year left on his deal many teams are interested in him, a move away from Wolves seems the most likely option for all parties if a new deal isn’t agreed.


Rùben Vinagre 

Age: 21

Position: Defender (LB)

On loan at: Olympiacos until January (Greek Super League), Famalicao (Liga NOS)

Games played: 27

Assist: 3

The Portuguese LB had a very poor first half of the season. He started off at Wolves making 3 appearances in old gold, but it was evident he was not good enough, so he was sent out on loan to Olympiacos. His poor form continued there as well so Wolves then sent him out on loan to Famalicao back in his homeland. He got back on track while at the Liga NOS side, playing a total of 20 games and picking up 3 assists in the meantime. Despite his form, and with the arrival of Bruno Lage his time at the club still looks to be numbered. He doesn’t have a place in the team and isn’t good enough at this time and moment but with his current form he could bring in a good sum of cash of around 10-15 million, Benfica and Sporting seem to be the two teams most interested in his signature.


Bruno Jordão

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder (CM)

On loan at: Famalicao (Liga NOS)

Games played: 11

Goals: 1

Assist: 1

Jordao’s season was hindered by a long-term injury that he suffered at the beginning of January and kept him out for the rest of the season. Before injury, the Portuguese midfielder featured 11 times and grabbed 1 goal (which was awarded the September/October goal of the month) and 1 assist. A shame for Jordao as he wasn’t able to display his qualities and has now fallen down the pecking order. Pre-season at Wolves and another year out on loan seems the best option for him and the club.


Connor Ronan

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder (CM)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 32

Goals: 1

Assist: 3

 An overall good season for Ronan but also slightly unfortunate, he joined Grasshoppers and immediately picked up an injury that kept him out of their pre-season and first two games. Once he recovered, he had to fight for a place in the team, which he did really well, becoming a regular face in the team and helping the Swiss side to promotion. In his time at the club the former Ireland U21 international showed great mentality and determination, always running and fighting for every ball. He managed to reach the consistency that he was lacking in the first half of the season and although he only got 4 goal contributions, his passing and crossing was very good. The only weaknesses were duels and headers due to his stature. Unfortunately for him though, the season ended two games early as he suffered a metatarsal fracture. Hard to predict what we will do with him, one thing for sure is that he will be at Wolves recovering from injury, when he recovers who knows? Maybe another loan, because Wolves must see something in him as they have kept and persisted with him for quite a long time now.


Lèo Bonatini

Age: 26

Position: Striker (ST)

On loan at: Grasshoppers (Challenge League)

Games played: 33

Goals: 13

Assist: 2

A very bad start to life in Switzerland for Bonatini, hardly any goals in the first half of the season and didn’t seem to be enjoying it at all, or more than anything not wanting to be there. His luck changed in the second half of the season once he found his scoring boots, and he seemed to be more motivated. He contributed to 15 goals in total with 13 goals and 2 assists. He started off as a massive flop and disappointment in Zurich but ended up being instrumental by pushing Grasshoppers to promotion as the club’s top scorer and the fans seemed to finally appreciate him too. There’s no doubt where he will be next year, he will be playing in the Swiss Super League with Grasshoppers as he was signed on a two year loan deal.


Rafa Mir 

Age: 23

Position: Striker (ST)

On loan at: Huesca (La Liga)

Games played: 39

Goals: 16 (two hat-tricks one in La Liga and the other in the Copa del Rey)

Assist: 1

Wolves most prolific player with 16 goals, Rafa Mir, spent the season out on loan in La Liga with Huesca. The Spanish side that sat in 20th position for the majority of the season moved up the table thanks to his goals but they weren’t enough to ensure them safety as they finished 18th, 2 points away from 17th placed Elche. The former U21 Spain international was clearly the best out of the Wolves players out on loan and he didn’t go unnoticed, many teams in Spain have shown interest in him and some Wolves fans think he should be given the chance to come back and play with us. It seems unlikely this will be the case as he is entering the last year of his contract and Wolves seem willing to cash in on him or even use him as a makeweight for a possible swap deal. Signed for 1 million, you have got to say this has been good business from the club as they will be getting double that amount in the event of his sale.


Other players out on loan:

Patrick Cutrone

Games: 24

Assist: 1

Where do you start off, it has definitely been a shocker and a season to forget for Cutrone, 24 games in total with Fiorentina, Wolves and Valencia and no goals. Left Fiorentina for the lack of game time and played 4 times at Wolves before moving back out on loan to Valencia where he encountered the same problem he had at Fiorentina.  Possibly one of the worst signings under the Fosun reign, they will be lucky to get back the same amount they paid for him if they wish to sell him.


Oskar Buur

Games: 11

Sent out on an 18 month loan deal to partner club Grasshoppers and in the half a season he was there he played 11 times, his time at the club was interrupted by various injuries and when he did play he wasn’t anything special. Oskar Buur will be spending the next season on loan with Grasshoppers in the Swiss Super League along with Leo Bonatini.


Meritan Shabani

Games 7

Goals: 1

A promising start on loan with Dutch side VVV-Venlo, scoring on his debut to send the club into the Semi-Finals of the Dutch cup and some decent cameos for him. This could have been the big breakthrough for him having recovered from his ACL injury and having done well in Wolves u23s before his loan move, but unfortunately he suffered another injury that kept him out of action for the rest of the season.


Leonardo Campana


Goals: 2

Assist: 1

The Ecuadorian internationals time in Portugal at Famalicao with fellow Wolves men Jordao and Vinagre was ultimately hindered by a muscle and a hamstring injury. He only featured in spells, getting the odd minute here and there. In his limited playing time, he did manage to grab 2 goals and 1 assist. At just 20 years of age the best option for him will be another season out on loan.


Christian Herc

Games: 32

Goals: 7

Assist: 1

The forgotten Slovakian midfielder spent the season out on loan at Czech side MFK Karvina, where he played 32 times and contributed to 8 goals. A decent season as one of the key players after an unsuccessful time at Viktoria Plzen the previous season.


Luke Matheson

Games: 2

His time out on loan with Ipswich didn’t last very long as he played 2 games and got injured shortly after. Following the injury, the loan was cancelled and Matheson returned to Wolves where he would recover and eventually feature for the U23s.

Jamie Pardington

The 20-year-old shot stopper spent time out on loan with Dulwich Hamlet and League Two side Mansfield Town, where he got his first taste of action in men’s football.

Dongda He

Games: 3 

The 19 year old Chinese striker from the U23s has been sent out on loan to Chinese Super League side, Beijing Guoan, where he has made 3 appearances from the bench.


Most surprising player – Rafa Mir

Nobody would’ve expected much at all from the 23 year old Spaniard at the beginning of the season, an unsuccessful time in England, first year playing in a top division and only playing with newly promoted Huesca. In the end, he defined the odds and surprised many fans, netting 16 times in total, attracting interest from many sides.


Most disappointing player – Patrick Cutrone

No goals in 24 games, I think that says it all!

The Italian didn’t manage to get a single goal at any of the 3 clubs he played with this season, he was never a regular and fell out of favour with the managers at basically all clubs this season. The only place where the 23 year old has done well is with the Italian U21 side at the Uefa U21 Championships where he got 4 goal contributions in 4 games (3 goals 1 assist).

Most unfortunate players

Bruno Jordao

A season back in his homeland with Famalicao where he would be able to get regular gametime and thrive, what could go wrong? He got off to a decent start, getting regular gametime, scoring and assisting once, won the September/October goal of the month and then a long- term injury struck and kept him out for the season.

Meritan Shabani

A good start to life in the Netherlands for Shabani but it wasn’t to be for the German midfielder. As stated before, it could have been his breakthrough but unfortunately he received a major blow because of injury.


This time around there were 17 players out on loan and as you can see, they all had varying levels of success over the season. It’ll be interesting to see how they develop and mature this time next year.


Stats and numbers accurate as of 14/06/2021.


Matthew Gentile is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.

Billy Wright Stand

Wolves 2-1 Brighton: The Debrief

Morgan Gibbs-White, he’s one of our own. It seems a lifetime ago since those sounds rang across the same Molineux stands that now sit so barren and lifeless.


Isn’t it great to get that winning feeling back? Until the youngster stepped up to smash home a deserved winner, it seemed like the 10 men of Brighton were destined to leave with a point. 


It could’ve all been so different had Lewis Dunk not grabbed Fabio Silva’s shirt, which in turn yanked the chain of the gold and black generator, causing Wolves’ afternoon to suddenly splutter into life.


The start was refreshing and vibrant, putting Brighton on the back foot immediately. That was until Dunk himself popped up and headed the away side in front. Neves and Gibbs-White appeared to have been given the task of stopping him. Perhaps one should have perched on the other’s shoulder to try and obscure the man mountain’s path to goal.


Brighton are a neat and tidy outfit. The passing is crisp and free flowing. As BBC commentator Danny Murphy remarked, “They’re dangerous every time they come forward.” 


Moutinho’s passing range and overall ball control was lacking. Ait-Nouri’s silky runs often became blind alley treks. The passing moves were textbook but ineffective, all done in front of a solid Brighton back line.


It looked like a training match, it felt like a training match. Even the synthetic cheers and whistles of the BBC sound machine failed to achieve any semblance of reality. Pressing the “boo” button at half time would’ve made things more believable.


Losing at home to a team beginning with B, on a Sunday afternoon, all seemed eerily similar to the 4-0 Burnley battering. Danny Welbeck was enjoying himself. The nearly man of the Premier League was physically strong, quick and willing to lead the line.


Again, it was difficult to see who Wolves could turn to off the bench. Dendoncker up front maybe? Otasowie at left back? Give Corbeanu a debut in a holding role? When the script got flipped it was a Brighton player who was the main antagonist.


Silva raced though. Dunk had a sneaky tug. Time stilled briefly. The big man’s head dropped; his departure inevitable.


Nuno suddenly sensed an opportunity. The beard stroking became more vigorous. Eyebrows steadily raised like Leonid Brezhnev. It was time to shake up the baby oil bottle, release the beast and let Adama Traore run loose. Already the recipient of an Adama roasting earlier in the season, Dan Burn no doubt twitched nervously as his tormentor reappeared for round two.


Rueing a gilt-edged opportunity minutes beforehand, to his credit Morgan Gibbs-White did not let the miss get him down. Often pinpointed as transfer fodder, as the exit door flapped open Morgan refused to be dragged away. 


He stepped up when it mattered, instigated some late notice drama and bagged all three points for his team. Brighton games aren’t supposed to be this way. A 3-3 draw in January and an entertaining 2-1 win that bucked the bore draw trend. Neal Maupay was determined to add to the drama when he went ballistic after time and made it two red cards for the Seagulls.


At half time a large percentage of fans might have happily swapped the managers around and accepted Brighton’s head honcho with open arms in to the home dugout. 


The red card undoubtedly swayed the game. In the end though it was Nuno, that grizzled old wizard, who had the last laugh over fresh young Potter.

Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here 

Hawthorns shithole

West Brom 1-1 Wolves: The Debrief

On a saturated evening that was supposed to provide one final crumb of sustenance from an increasingly mouldy season, Wolves trudged through the puddles to earn a draw against the old enemy.


It wasn’t catwalk football. Many of the players may have viewed it as “just another game”. The lack of fans did not help get the blood pumping as was required for such an occasion. But between the dark grey clouds circling above The Hawthorns there grew some green shoots of light. 


Young legs, fresh ideas, neat combination play; something for viewers at home to cling on to. After last week’s 4-0 loss to Burnley it was the marked improvement so badly needed.


Early on the ever-industrious Fabio Silva looked particularly isolated as he hustled and bustled against the physical powerhouses of the Albion defence. 


Straight after his goal we tweeted: “Made up for Silva. Not stopped trying all half. Throughout the season every opportunity he’s had, every criticism and missed chance, never let his head drop.”


It was a glorious scuff but nobody cared. From 45-yard volleys to a five-yard tap in they all count the same.


Otasowie improved as the game went on


Once again played in a disjointed role, Owen Otasowie stuttered and stammered in a poor start. An early string of misplaced passes likely occurred from Owen misjudging the weight of the rain on the turf. Noted by the commentators as being a model, Otasowie looked like a model playing a footballer in a TV drama. 


After a laboured first 45, the second half at least brought more promising intent from the young American. Driving forward with the ball at his feet, there were raw glimpses of the 20-year-old’s potential.


Talking of potential, both Ait-Nouri and Vitinha excelled. As Wolves grew into the game Nelson Semedo’s wait for a goal nearly ended on the half hour mark. Vitinha’s forward movement and propensity to run with the ball caused issues for the hosts.


As the home side gently raised the temperature Rui Patricio earned his corn with a smart save from Conor Gallagher. Wolves retreated. Semedo went wandering. Matt Phillips found more joy down the left.


Albion’s single moment of hope arrived when Roman Saiss pulled his increasingly regular trick of falling asleep at the wheel. The Moroccan managed to fluff his lines in front of goal yet also go missing in his own box when it really mattered. 


Once Otasowie and Vitinha had the stabilisers taken off, both looked threatening. After his previously mentioned ropy start Otasowie grew into the game. Vitinha’s contribution held great promise and increased the likelihood of his fee being triggered.


Mike Dean’s introduction at half time stifled the flow of the game. The whistle-happy veteran is more effective than any midfield enforcer at stopping free-flowing counter attacks. 


How to deal with a problem like Podence?


While clearly not match fit, Daniel Podence is also a discussion point. The sprightly magician is well balanced, fast and skilled but has yet to find consistency. How many games since his arrival has Podence held great influence over? 


Perhaps the diminutive Portuguese is becoming a luxury the squad can ill afford. However, shipping him out (if indeed a buyer could be found) would be a heavy-handed decision at this point.


Podence was introduced to help ease the defensive burden and get Wolves functioning higher up the pitch. Playing under pressure in the second half was expected given the fact that the home side were fighting for their Premier League lives. Wolves weathered the metaphorical storm before the actual storm descended and the game floated towards its conclusion.


Described as biblical by the commentary team, the weather was more farcical as the ball skidded across the turf one minute before dragging across the sodden grass like a boulder the next. 


Injury aside there can be no reason to leave Vitinha out of the remaining fixtures. Another fleet-footed slickster, Morgan Gibbs-White, made a positive impact with his driving runs and penchant for a slide tackle. 


The youngsters offered a vibrancy of movement. A willingness to pull the head up, run with the ball or pick the forward thinking through pass rather than the gloopy sidewards offerings of the old guard.


Is there any solace in relegating the old enemy? Possibly, but without a band of several thousand away fans goading and jeering their counterparts it was all pretty tame stuff. Pushing West Brom closer to the trap door, not quite kicking and screaming, is small consolation for not getting the win.


Monday was a chance for a glimpse at the possibilities of our next generation. Badgered into a line-up change, Nuno offered the spotlight to some fresh faces and they at least made a case for another shot. 


Even though Wolves’ third season has been a difficult experience on so many levels, the best teams and the best players will once again grace Molineux after the summer reshuffle.


With four points out of six, across two fixtures, West Brom won the battle. But the men in Gold and Black won the war. Perhaps we’ll meet them again sometime?


Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here 

Molineux Stadium Turnstile

Wolves 0-4 Burnley : The Debrief

As bad days go this was right up there.

Scorelines often mask the reality of a game. A good performance punctuated by a couple of mistakes can lead to a 3-0 or 4-1 reverse with the statistics not offering a true representation of events. 

On this balmy April afternoon the score echoed every inch of a one-sided drubbing. It probably should’ve been more. Heads dropped early, quality players hid in large shadows that loomed across the pitch. Obscured from view, hoping to avoid scrutiny, too many went missing at all the vital moments.

Picking Wolves and Burnley as a BBC game may have led to disgruntled subscribers demanding an end to the license fee. At least one team arrived looking to ramp up the entertainment factor. 

Burnley, a rigid four-four-two grinder of a side, built in the hard working image of their manager, turned on the style and punished their hosts who spent most of the afternoon resembling a League Two outfit. 


Watching Wolves isn’t fun anymore


For years the rise to prominence has been so sweet. But as the oddest of seasons rumbles on it’s all beginning to get a little bitter.

Problems? There are many. For starters, there’s nothing on the bench to shake up the chosen 11, or make opponents feel the slightest concern.

Even at 2-0, when there was still a little hope of a comeback, who could jog down from the stands, work themselves loose and enter the fray to strike fear into the opposition? Would Vitinha or Morgan Gibbs-White, tidy technicians that they are, offer an increased threat to Burnley’s comfortable back line? 

Familiar and functional, the line-up offered few surprises. Tarkowski and his band of blockers would not have to deal with the bizarre “threat” of Owen Otasowie in a False 9.

Often as effective as Otasowie in forward positions, last week’s hero Willian Jose began pretty strongly. For the first five minutes at least. Holding up play, swinging a beautifully weighted pass across the pitch to Semedo, it all looked so promising. 

For the remainder of the half he resembled a bag of cement – only less mobile. It’s clearly a case of wrong place, wrong time for the big Brazilian who is now entering Tomasz Frankowski territory. At least Jose got that goal.


Is Nuno losing the dressing room?


To be blunt, Wolves played like a team looking to get rid of their manager. Maybe the manager himself would be better off with a move away. Appearing genuinely sad on the sidelines, a far cry from the super-motivated, ferocious figure of the Championship blitz, Nuno could do little to stem the tide from the increasing heat of his dugout.

Adama Traore showed a bit of fight. The wrong kind of fight though, and he was lucky to escape a red after a needless palm swipe at Jack Cork. Familiarity breeds contempt and Wolves feel like a team of individuals who can’t stand the sight of each other right now.

Scoring against Burnley is tough enough at the best of times. Trying to find five goals would be near impossible. One of the most frustrating parts is that the home side’s defensive frailties were not the result of boundless abandon or attacking endeavour. It was a stale, lifeless beating. Leaky at one end, worthless at the other. 

Aside from a few catches from corners, Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope was largely untroubled. The visitors were professional, streetwise, well organised. They knew when to defend, when to whisk forward with surprising ease and when to hit the deck and roll around.

The men in Gold and Black were the opposite. Weak in the tackle, slow to close down the wide players and their threatening crosses; stumbling underneath long punts and giving away the ball with alarming regularity – and that was all just the first half. Losing the second half 1-0 seemed like an improvement.


Too many players had an off day


Even with five minutes to go Wolves’ defenders were still providing “what the hell are you doing?!” moments as Saiss wandered into a corner of trouble. He was swiftly dispossessed and his team swiftly punished.

Anyone rubbing hands at the prospect of Wolves hammering the final nail in to the Albion coffin next week need to look elsewhere. Right now, there’s no guarantee of three points from any fixture.

This squad requires a huge overhaul in the summer. The playing staff, the tactics, the personnel, maybe even the manager all need to be intensely scrutinised. Let’s see if Fosun have the stomach to whip out the cheque book and sort things out. 

Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here 


This is Our Love and it Knows No Super League

This is Our Love and it Knows No Division. This is Our Game and we’ll make the Decisions.


18th April 2021. Wolves had edged past Sheffield United the night before, Fulham have just conceded yet another late equaliser and the nation was nursing its first Sunday hangover for months. Some would say normality is resuming. But twelve despicable custodians of some of the biggest clubs in Europe had other ideas, six of whom brought shame upon the English game. It was during Manchester United’s victory over Burnley that news really began to gather pace that a European Super League was set to be announced, with the self-proclaimed and media enhanced ‘Big Six’ signing up. 

Within that six were Arsenal, the same Arsenal who had just hours ago scraped a point at home to Championship heading Fulham. Among those six were Tottenham, less league titles than Wolves and the same amount as Burnley. Yes, Burnley. Among those six were Manchester United, who have struggled every single time they have faced little old Wolves since 2018. You get the idea. But this was not about creating jokes, this was not about gloating over your rivals. The announcement spoke of a tournament that ‘will provide significantly greater economic growth [and] uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues’, how exciting. They weren’t even trying to hide the money grabbing experiment. This abomination was enough to unite fans up and down the country and even brought about a sense of unity in the wonderful world of football twitter. This was nothing short of an attack on our game, our traditions, our history and our heritage. An attack from people whose football opinions would not be worth the time of day. It was an attack even more relevant to Wolves fans, and fans of many other ambitious Premier League clubs, which would kill our dreams and Fosun’s dreams of one day challenging the elite on a regular basis, of competing at the pinnacle of European football. The response from neglected club officials, staff, players, the media and most impressive of all the fans was exemplary and showed the impact fans still have on our game. Our game because that is what it is. It does not belong to the cash cows in America, or the executives at Sky Sports. Gary Neville was praised and rightly so, he articulated the thoughts of millions perfectly, as did many others. But there was one moment, just 24 hours after the news gathered speed, that filled us with a particular sense of pride. It was no surprise that Fosun and Wolves as a club would be against the formation of a Super League, but the way in which they expressed their disgust was mesmerising. 

At periods of [our] history, we were one of the most successful and decorated clubs in England, falling out of the country’s top three just once over a nine-year period and winning the league three times. But at others we tumbled down the leagues, spending seasons in the second, third and fourth tiers, almost going out of existence on more than one occasion. (Official Wolves)

And this is certainly worth remembering. If you dare mention the fact Wolves were in League One just seven years ago on twitter you are often shunned down, and don’t you dare mention the years of struggle when Wolves nearly went out of business. Now when trying to make excuses for Wolves’ lacklustre campaign that may be fair, but Wolves fans should take pride in the ride this club and its fans have been on, in both long standing and modern history. Everyone reading this now will have endured the double relegation, the feeling of desolation and despair. But will also have enjoyed the revival, spearheaded by Kenny Jackett in what was a thoroughly enjoyable two years that followed. ‘This is Our Love and it Known no Division’ was the banner and the phrase that rejuvenated the fanbase, and it is a mantra that means more now than ever before. From that season we finally had a team that cared. We had a team that gave 100% and that is all a Wolves fan is ever going to ask for. 

In sport, nothing is forever; champions come and go, dynasties disappear, sleeping giants awake and new challengers test the status quo. That is the beauty of sport, and what epitomises the beautiful game. (Official Wolves)

Perhaps the most striking and quotable part of the Wolves statement. It needs no explanation and speaks to football fans up and down the country. It emphasises the point that this is not about who you support, or where you watch your football, this is about our game itself, our passion and our way of life.

As a foreign owner, Fosun came to the UK in 2016 and embraced our club, our history and our supporters, but also the country and its proud traditions, one of which is the most historic football system in the world. That sense of competition is what appealed most to Fosun then, and still just as strongly now. Our promotion and relegation systems, built on solid foundations of competition and fairness, create promise, ambition, success and failure – all of which are essential in the sport. If you work hard enough and operate with greater intelligence and commitment than your competitors, you will be successful, you can challenge the top clubs and rise to their level through your own efforts, and that cannot change.  Fosun made a commitment in 2016 when they took over this historic football club and have displayed their dedication since, taking Wolves on a journey from the Championship to the Europa League – an example of the type of ascent which makes English football so special. That commitment stands just as strong now, in 2021, as it did five years ago. Fosun remain completely devoted to Wolves and harbour the same sizeable ambitions, which they hope to achieve through a meticulous, long-term plan. (Official Wolves)

This is certainly where the statement becomes personal to Wolves fans. Fosun have brought huge success on and off the field since buying the club in 2016. Although the past 12 months have been disappointing, the club is in as good as a position now as it has been for generations. Much was made of such a historic and traditional club being taken over by a Chinese investment group, but almost all Wolves fans had a feeling we’d hit the jackpot (unlike some of our neighbours). Jeff Shi openly admitted he knew little about running a football club and the rollercoaster first season certainly didn’t argue with that. But he learnt, Fosun learnt, and three near-perfect years followed. There is certainly learning to be done from this season too, but Fosun relayed their commitment with this statement, while providing Wolves fans and English football with a reminder that not all foreign owners are bad. The mention of operating with ‘greater intelligence and commitment’ to ‘challenge the top clubs and rise to their level’ was a direct warning to the owners who are scared. Scared of us, Leicester, West Ham, Leeds and all the others who have bridged the gap to the cosy club in the Premier League. Well, we’re here to stay, all of us. There is no doubt Fosun are here to run Wolves as a business, they are an investment group after all and a successful one at that. But they respect our traditions, and they respect history, the clubs’ values align with theirs and they want success for the club just as much as we do. 

A kick in the teeth and a kick in the pockets of these billionaires, cowardly billionaires, that own some of our biggest and most historic clubs with some of the most loyal and vocal fans around. A victory for us who dream, to put our trust in Fosun, Jeff Shi and Nuno and to get back on track. Next season brings new hope and huge expectation, and if they get it right, we’ll be playing for a place in European competition once again. A victory for football and its fans (Sorry, legacy fans), and this is just the beginning.


Ciaran Barker is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.

Steve Bull Stand

Wolves 1-0 Sheffield United : The Debrief

“Sign him up, sign him up, sign him up!” You can almost hear the chants from the terraces. The name’s Jose, Willian Jose – GOAL MACHINE.

It wasn’t pretty, certainly no classic, but as Sheffield United fell into the relegation abyss, another three points in the bank for Wolves is what really mattered. In years to come, highlights packages from the 2020/21 campaign will be downloaded by sinister entities and used as elaborate torture devices to extract information.

Much like in the 1-0 win over Chorley -January 22, FA Cup Fourth Round- Wolves’ opponents on Saturday evening toiled hard, created chances and gave off a vibe of plucky underdogs doing better than expected. 

Patronising that may be, the visitors are a team looking for any green shoots of hope as a long grind in the Championship awaits. Given the unorthodox nature of the current season (Covid – you might have heard of it) mid-table mediocrity is not the end of the world for any top seven aspirants.


‘Everyone at Wolves is baffled as to why it keeps happening’


Quietly seething on the sidelines, Nuno Espirito Santo seemed as bemused and puzzled as many watching at home over the reasons behind his side’s lacklustre first half display. Wolves’ stolid style once again strangled the life out of a game played against clearly poor opposition. 

It’s a far cry from the swashbuckling days of old when Wolves would’ve comfortably and swiftly put such an outfit to the sword. That well-worn statement about the absent Reuben Neves being a free kick specialist is trudged out before every wayward set piece attempt. Similarly, the perplexity behind Wolves’ continuous inability to reach and remain in a higher gear is oft repeated by commentators.


Sheffield United woke Wolves up


It took an Enda Stevens miss to immediately wake the home side up. Good defending from Semedo led to a nifty turn around and a sporadic counter attack kicked in. Traore accelerated and Willian Jose tucked it away beautifully. Bang. First goal for Billy Joe and you couldn’t help but feel pleased for him.

It’s hard to know whether it was better or worse than the win at Fulham, but two 1-0 victories in a row will do nicely. Just don’t ask anyone to watch them back again.


Relegating the opposition becomes a thing


Ever since a 2-0 opening day loss to Wolves, the away side busied themselves trying to become the worst team in Premier League history. That dubious honour still belongs to Derby who ended the 2007/08 season with a measly 11 points. 

United are now two points off Huddersfield’s 2018/19 total of 16. That number could’ve been even worse for Huddersfield had home and away wins over Wolves not provided six of those points and helped nudge them up and away from Derby’s inauspicious standing. 

As match week gathered pace the prospect of being responsible for United’s relegation became an increasing source of excitement for a subset of supporters. In a dismal season, short on moments of inspiration, any feeling of superiority will do. 


Sheffield United arrived low on confidence


As former Wolves striker Don Goodman explained on the Sky mic, Sheffield United arrived as a team low on confidence and demoralised, bottom of the league by a country mile. 

Paul Heckingbottom’s men had also ditched their usual red and white stripes in favour of a washed-out pink number, reminiscent of a rogue red sock in the white load. Perhaps the unnecessary kit change would help them forget who they were for an evening. 

That worked in spells, but it’s hard to see the door being smashed down for too many of their players come the summer. Understandably low on confidence, Rhian Brewster’s tagline as a striker would need to be investigated under the Trade Descriptions Act. Rarely has a player carrying such a heavy receipt offered so little. 

Another young man carrying the weight of an inflated cost price, Fabio Silva, is the anti-Brewster. Rollocking forward with reckless abandon, only a late slip-slide on the turf halted his chance to replicate the sparkling West Ham finish.

Positives? There were a few. Semedo and Ait-Nouri both worked well down the flanks. The latter may have deemed himself fortunate to have got away with an “over the top” job on Brewster. Vitinha came on to show once again that the reputation and reality of his abilities are yet to align.


Wolves will take the three points and move on


For the final 20 minutes Wolves slumped back further into a defensive posture, almost willing The Blades to grab an equaliser – a scant moment of consolation to ease their pain on the long ride home. 

Like an enthused parent rolling a fly-away football in front of their stumbling toddler, the men in Gold and Black stood back to offer the visitors a way back in to the game.

Courteous to their hosts, United politely refused. Leaving with nothing has become the norm. In a rotten season, Sheffield United continue to wallow in the swamp of the EPL’s all-time worst. 

On a night when not much went right, be thankful that one side will travel to the likes of Luton, Millwall and Coventry next season, while the other will reset, rebuild and once again rub shoulders with the elite.

Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team


craven cottage

Fulham 0-1 Wolves : The Debrief

Typical Wolves. Just as you’re ready to pen a withering diatribe about system failures or thump out a tweet listing the names of players you’d gladly flog in the summer, up pops Traore with a screamer. Grimacing, you accept the three points.

Nuno and his coaching staff merged in to a familiar celebratory huddle as Alphonse Areola committed the ultimate goalkeeping crime of being beaten at his near post. In the opposite corner, Scott Parker looked like a man who could do with an arm around the shoulder himself.


Fulham’s tears on the Thames


As anyone with a pair of eyes will attest, it was far from perfect, but Wolves got the win, smashed and grabbed three points and left Fulham wallowing in literal tears of misery. It was harsh on the home team.

In fact, making a case that either side deserved maximum points would be a stretch. Silva’s through ball was divine, Traore’s thumping finish ruthless and the previous hour-and-a-half of tedium almost forgotten.


Conor Coady won his battle with Mitrovic


There were personal battles raging all over the pitch. Kongolo, Tete and Andersen toiled hard to keep Podence, Neto (briefly) and Traore honest. Back in the side to torment his old defensive foe, Conor Coady, Serbian international Aleksandar Mitrovic had spent a lot of the season warming the bench.

Enjoying good international form, when Mitrovic scored against Aston Villa on Sunday, Fulham were half an hour away from closing the gap even more on a Wolves side that lost to West Ham shortly after. Fulham opted for capitulation, Villa came back to win 3-1 and the gap remained.


Jose’s first Wolves goal disallowed


Back at Craven Cottage, in first half injury time Daniel Podence teased a dainty cross into the box and Willian Jose did what he was supposed to do. Powering a header past Areola, the Brazilian wheeled away in delight having finally broken his duck. Or so he thought.

Instead, VAR crashed the Wolves party room, flicking on the light like an angry parent. Jose and company had been cruelly foiled. This new-fangled technology, designed to remove discussion and debate over contentious decisions, once again attempted to suck away any last vestige of goal scoring enjoyment. 


Cavaleiro missed his opportunity for revenge


The sign of Ivan Cavaleiro leisurely jogging on to the turf may have filled some observers with dread. Old player coming back to bite Wolves, just as former favourite Diogo Jota had done for Liverpool. It was written. Or maybe not. As reliable as a Duncan Castles scoop, ‘Cav’ dutifully drifted into obscurity.

Time and again Adama was outnumbered and ruthlessly dumped to the ground. Time and again Daniel Podence, still sluggishly recovering from injury, found his usually reliable touch and tidy ball control strangely absent.

Despite Fulham’s apparent tooth lessness going forward, still the Wolves handbrake remained intact. Scott Parker’s urgency increased. His substitutions became more offensive. Fulham fancied it.

With 15 minutes remaining Wolves suddenly looked a little fingernail ragged, clinging on with a touch more desperation as each minute passed. The end-to-end frivolity of Monday night’s defeat to West Ham garnered little fruit while providing sporadic moments of entertainment. This was just dire.


Portuguese wonderkid drops an assist


The away side’s kit may have strongly resembled the free-flowing pleasures of a prime Portugal, but that was where the similarities ended. Wolves’ approach was stale. It lacked imagination. Nobody would’ve batted an eyelid had the camera panned pitch side to find Jose Mourinho sitting in the away dugout, pulling the tactical strings.

Bounding around the field with all the enthusiasm of a new-born puppy, snapping at the heels of the Fulham players, Fabio Silva’s endeavour was never beyond question. Even an unfortunate collision with an advertising hoarding failed to dampen his zeal. 

Unlike his impressive cameo against West Ham, Silva was unable to hit the net. No matter, VAR probably would’ve ruled it out anyway. Fabio made do with a silky slide rule assist to release the beast that is Traore and help push the Cottagers further into the relegation mire.


Wolves meander into mid table


Even the slithering killjoys at Stockley Park were unable to prevent the marauding Spaniard from ending his goal drought. Adama’s powerful strike successfully killed off any lingering doubts around Premier League survival.

The muscled Adonis had engineered a reward for months of fruitless labour and for another night the wider cracks remain glued with a few sheets of A4. 

As bubbling frustrations across Wolverhampton and beyond quickly simmered, Nuno will not sit comfortably. Those withering tweets are merely postponed. Consigned to drafts until we return.


Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here