24-year-old could join the list of Molineux outgoings this summer

Manchester City are reportedly exploring the possibility of signing Matheus Nunes, according to David Ornstein at the Athletic.  The Portugal international joined Wolves from Sporting Lisbon last Summer and has four years remaining on his contract, with a further years option should Wolves choose to activate it.

The 24-year-old has been a player who has attracted the attention of other clubs since joining Wolves, with most notably Liverpool taking the biggest interest in the player according to reports. 

City’s list of targets

Nunes is one of a few names on a short list for City alongside Eberechi Eze of Crystal Palace. The interest should probably not come as a surprise as Pep Guardiola famously called Nunes “One of the best players in the world today.” This coming after City had beaten Sporting Lisbon 5-0 in 2022.

The long term injury to Kevin De Bruyne has seen City look to the transfer market in search of forward thinking midfielders. The current Premier League Champions have seen a recent deal for West Ham United’s Lucas Paqueta collapse. The Brazilian midfielder had agreed personal terms, but due to an ongoing investigation by the FA for a potential breach in gambling rules they pulled out of the move.

Wolves’ stance

Wolves have no interest in letting Nunes go according to Liam Keen from the Express & Star. He does follow it up however that Wolves would consider big offers.

This Summer has seen the Wolves hierarchy talk about the need to comply with financial fair play rules, which has been reflected in the incomings and outgoings we have seen so far. Wolves have spent nothing so far and it is unknown if the sale of Nunes for a hefty fee would then allow Wolves to strengthen other parts of the squad.

With only one week left until the transfer window closes, it looks to set to be a nervy one for Wolves as they look to hold onto a key player.


Wolves 1-4 Brighton Player Ratings

After an evenly matched first half with opportunities for both sides, Wolves were undone early in the second half after a capitulation in the early stages. After the promising performance at Old Trafford on Monday, Wolves looked a totally different side as they whimpered to a 4-1 defeat at home.

Jose Sa – 3

With multiple wayward passes, Jose Sa had another uncomfortable performance in between the sticks for Wolves. More and more questions are beginning to be raised regarding the Portuguese goalkeeper. Sa also had a big say in Brighton’s second goal, where his parry sent the ball in the path of Kaoru Mitoma before setting up Pervis Estupinan. Another poor showing from Jose Sa.

Nelson Semedo – 4

Without many chances to advance into forward areas, Semedo had a very poor game defensively. As with the rest of the defence, Semedo was caught out massively in the high line. He was beaten way too easily for Kaoru Mitomas’s stunning opener and this set the tone for the game. A vast contrast compared to his performance at Old Trafford, arguably his best game in a Wolves shirt.

Craig Dawson – 3

Exposed on multiple occasions in a high line, Dawson had his poorest performance since he signed for the club in January. The defender was targeted effectively by Brighton, who caught him out of position on numerous occasions, with their third goal, scored by Solly March, being the best example.

Max Kilman – 3

As mentioned with Dawson, the defence of Wolves were caught out on multiple occasions. The skipper was too slow to react during Brighton’s opener and this was a common theme throughout. A poor showing from the defender.

Rayan Ait-Nouri – 4

The fullback did not have many chances to advance, similar to Semedo. However, when he did, he missed one of the best chances of the game. His effort in the first half was sent over Jason Steele’s goal and into a frustrated North Bank. Similar frustrations arose in the second half, where Ait-Nouri failed to get his shot away in the box. Rayan also allowed Solly March to get on the wrong side of him during Brighton’s third. A frustrating performance.

Pedro Neto – 4

With questions being raised regarding his role on the right-hand side, Pedro Neto’s performance was a huge contrast when compared to his performance at Old Trafford. Whilst he continued to advance down the right throughout the game, Neto was M frustrating in the final third.

Joao Gomes – 4

Unable to assert the same level of control as he did on Monday, Gomes struggled against Brighton. The Brazilian was overrun and outfought on multiple occasions. An unusually poor performance from the January signing.

Mario Lemina – 4

As with Gomes, Lemina saw himself unable to assert any level of control over the match. His aggression and energy were absent throughout. A disappointing afternoon for him, similar to his midfield partners.

 Matheus Nunes – 3

As with Gomes and Lemina, Matheus was unable to showcase his usual energy throughout against Brighton. His eventual sending-off was a huge letdown for the side, where his frustrations reached a point of reaction. He will undoubtedly be missed away at Goodison next week.

Matheus Cunha – 5

As to be expected with Cunha, the energy and drive were present. Whilst others seemingly whimpered to defeat in the second half, Cunha continued to plug. Whilst Wolves were ineffective in the final third, the work rate and non-stop energy of Cunha cannot be ignored.

Fabio Silva – 3

Silva was anonymous for large parts of the game. It would have been interesting to see the performance had the game not been taken away from Wolves early in the second half, however, compared to his forward partner, Fabio was poor. He missed one of the best chances of the 90 during the first half, and will be hoping he can find some goalscoring form following on from his return.


Pablo Sarabia 55′ (Joao Gomes) – 5

Sarabia did not have the best chance to assert himself due to the goal deficit. However, he was neat when he came on, and provided the assist for the eventual consolation goal.

Hwang Hee-Chan  55′ (Fabio Silva) – 5

Hwang opened his and the club’s goalscoring account for the season as he headed home from Sarabia’s corner. The work rate and desire of Hwang is always present, and he showed this against Brighton, despite Wolves being ineffective in the final third for large periods of the 90.

Toti Gomes 71′ (Craig Dawson) – N/A

After Toti arrived on the pitch, the game was set. At 4-1 down, the defender did not have much to do as Wolves continued to whimper. Will be interesting to see if he gets further minutes over Dawson moving forward due to a higher line

Hugo Bueno 86′ (Rayan Ait-Nouri) – N/A

Coming on in the latter stages of the game, Bueno was unable to assert himself with little to no time remaining. Whilst managing to advance into the final third, the game was out of reach for the Wolves. Bueno will be looking to dislodge Ait-Nouri as the season progresses.




Wolves ‘not interested’ in selling 21-year-old amid interest

After a tumultuous summer for Wolves fans, full of uncertainty surrounding incomings as well as several high-profile outgoings, there is finally some positive transfer news for the supporters to celebrate. Fabio Silva’s future at Molineux has been all but assured after months of transfer speculation.

Amid interest from abroad, news broke on Tuesday that Wolves have no interest in selling their Portuguese starlet and are committed to holding onto the 21-year-old striker.

The news, broken by Liam Keen of the Express and Star, will come as a welcome boost to the Wolves faithful after the lively performance put in by the no.29 on Monday night when he came off the bench in the 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford.

Silva, 21, impressed on two separate loan spells last season with Anderlecht and PSV, in which he scored goals domestically as well as in European competition for both sides.

Silva had decided to stay under previous manager Julen Lopetegui, so there will be work for Gary O’Neil to do in that regard, but the club see Silva as an important asset for the season ahead.

O’Neil has already been complimentary of the striker in his press conference ahead of the opening game of the season last week, highlighting his “good pre-season” and how he expects Silva to be “a big part of what we do this year”.

All signs point to Fabio Silva being an important player for Wolves this season, and fans will hope that he can repay the faith that they and the club have shown in him by returning a strong goalscoring season in 2023/24.


Player Ratings: Man Utd 1-0 Wolves

Amidst uncertainty behind the scenes, Wolves looked inspired under the stewardship of newly-appointed Gary O’Neil. Overpowering the home side at Old Trafford, a lack of clinical finishing and a controversial failure to award a late penalty resulted in Raphael Varane’s 76th-minute header claiming all three points for the home side. Looking forward to Brighton’s trip to Molineux, the performance provides great encouragement for the style of play under the new manager and strengthens the unity and optimism amongst the fans.

Jose Sa

Only had two saves to make all game. Came off his line decisively to deny Rashford in the 10th minute and prevent an early deficit. As seen often last season, the occasional panic with the ball at his feet and almost spilled one to an incoming attacker before half-time. Had little opportunity to prevent Varane’s goal.



Rayan Ait Nouri

Again displayed glimpses of his tremendous ability to use quick footwork to escape difficult positions and provide an injection of pace through the centre of the pitch. Booked for “time-wasting” under the new guidelines for officials. Kept Antony quiet with the support of Nunes. Dragged out towards the winger for United’s goal but needed midfield markers to track the run of Wan-Bissaka.



Max Kilman

Caught in possession trying to advance from the defence in the first ten minutes leading to a chance. After this, a dominant aerial display alongside Dawson, providing some useful blocks, noticeably from an Antony strike on the stroke of half-time. Did well to find the midfield and attackers to start counter-attacks rather than inviting further pressure.



Craig Dawson

Another assured performance from the centre-half who limited Rashford to just four touches in the first 20 minutes alongside the captain. Continued to perform well in the second half and cleared off the line in the 57th minute.



Nelson Semedo

Arguably the best player on the pitch as he produced one of his best performances in the Wolves shirt (coincidentally as he finally faces some genuine competition for his place). Drove forward with intent offensively and limited the dangerous Garnacho, and Rashford as they interchanged, to very little. Outjumped by Varane for the goal but very little could be expected of the full-back.



Mario Lemina

Started slowly and received an early yellow for a late challenge. Grew into the game and became integral to Wolves’ domination of the opposition in the midfield. Covered immense ground in the second half to cover in the back line and also support counter-attacks. The midfield partnership with Gomes looked very promising.



Joao Gomes

A consistently lively presence that started multiple counter-attacks as his dynamism alongside Lemina and Nunes swallowed the United midfield. Often found himself involved with the forwards in the press and his combative nature suited this. His ability to drive forward with the ball was also displayed as the game became stretched. A crucial player for the team this season.



Matheus Nunes

Pressed well in the opening stages but also found himself misplacing too many passes and caught unnecessarily offside. Lost the ball poorly on the edge of the box on the stroke of half-time and then lost Varane for a free header from the resulting corner. A much-improved performance on the ball in the second half as they drove with the ball and created opportunities, noticeably for Cunha in the 49th minute.



Matheus Cunha

If only he could finish one of his chances. His ability to carry the ball past the opposition was too much for the talents of United on multiple occasions. Could have had a goal and an assist before half-time. His golden opportunity came in the 49th minute, hitting the post when should have found the back of the net. However, this did not stop his endeavor as he continued to impress, but his finishing has to improve to remain as the number nine.



Pablo Sarabia

A good supporting run for the advancing Cunha in the 25th minute saw a deflected strike go narrowly passed the post. Good linkup play with Cunha throughout the first half and his technical ability proved too much for Shaw who was booked for fouling him. His performance faded in the second half and overall needs to find himself on the ball more often to remain in the starting lineup, only making 11 passes at 68% accuracy.



Pedro Neto

Looked much more like his former self, displaying pace, power and a tremendous desire to beat defenders. Contributed well to the press of the United defence and committed them to making fouls, Martinez was booked for this. Booked for dissent towards linesman. Should have scored with the ball falling to his stronger left foot in the box in the 74th minute, straight at Onana.




Hwang Hee-Chan 62′ (Pablo Sarabia)

Beat Wan-Bissaka in 1-vs-1 duels on multiple occasions, went close to scoring at the near post after a deflection and delivered dangerous crosses into the box. Flashed one high and wide, but provides a goal threat when on the pitch.



Fabio Silva 76′ (Pedro Neto)

Two good opportunities to score from close range inside the box, took up clever positions to create these chances for himself. Both shots were struck well but too close to Onana, will be disappointed not to have scored one. Linked the play well and currently looks like the most natural centre-forward.



Hugo Bueno 76′ (Rayan Ait Nouri)

Defended well in the latter stages to overturn possession and beat his man to deliver high-quality balls into the box.



Sasa Kaladjzic 87′ (Joao Gomes)

Great to see him back in a competitive fixture. Blatantly wiped out by Onana from a high ball into the box, officials failed to make the correct decision and apologised to O’Neil. Will be looking for more minutes gradually as the season progresses.




Gary O’Neil facing selection headache

NEW Wolves Head Coach Gary O’Neil already faces a selection headache as the new season commences on Monday night at Old Trafford. The return of Matt Doherty to Wolves has meant Nelson Semedo now has real competition for his place, and with Doherty impressing in pre-season, could the Irishman become first choice?

Doherty’s return

The 2020 ‘summer’ transfer window saw a changing of the guard at right back for Wolves. Long term servant Matt Doherty departed to Spurs for around £12m, to be replaced by Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo for slightly over twice the price (plus add ons). Now Semedo and his predecessor are playing together, and both can make a case for game time in 2023/4.

Three years down the line from Doherty’s departure and for all the instability at Wolves, right back is an area where there are choices to be made. With minimal budget for signings and low expectations, the newly-appointed Gary O’Neil will have to try and get a lot out of existing players, and Doherty and Semedo can potentially be useful foils for each other.

O’Neil’s system

O’Neil’s Bournemouth side played predominantly in a compact 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, which Wolves fans will recognise as being more suited to Semedo’s strength. Despite an (unfair) reputation for calamity, Semedo has proven himself to be a good, at times excellent, 1-on-1 defender. On the reverse, Doherty at Wolves made a name as having one of the best attacking outputs in the Premier League from defence, with 34 goal contributions (in all competitions) in his three years under Nuno. Wolves have struggled for goals since his departure in the same summer as Diogo Jota, with the least and fourth least goals scored in the league in the last two seasons.

The obvious factor to consider is the opposition’s tactical set up and player profile. Semedo is younger and more athletic, but Doherty was always adept at running in behind. Semedo is positionally adaptable, looking comfortable in a back four and a back five, while Doherty has always been seen as suspect without an extra centre back helping from inside.

On technical quality and defensive ability, Semedo is almost certainly the starter. While neither would be obvious examples of consistency, the Portugese is a more rounded player than Doherty, while the Irishman was traditionally offered feast or famine. This difference is indicated if you examine some of their defensive stats.

Statistical comparison

The naked eye has seen Semedo defensively smother dangerous attackers such as Allan Saint-Maximin and Michail Antonio in recent years, and the numbers back up his ability. Compared to Doherty he’s more of a volume tackler, with 2.35 per 90 minutes compared to Doherty’s 1.90, winning 1.47 of those compared to 1.03. Doherty does win a higher percentage, but a four-player system creates more risk when individual defenders are unwilling to engage, with fewer backups in the penalty box to stop balls into the box. Doherty also gets more interceptions per 90 mins (1.36 to 1.09), indicative of a willingness to risk upsetting the defensive shape in attempt to win possession.

Semedo is also better at keeping possession, completing 84% of passes compared to Doherty’s 75.6%. However, Doherty’s passing has a higher potential payoff, with a greater progressive passing distance.  The picture that emerges is that Semedo is more stable, while Doherty is more likely to take risky options to try and win the ball or create. The numbers bear that out, with Doherty offering almost double the number of goal creating actions (0.34 to 0.19) per 90 minutes.

Tactical options

The reality for Wolves is that Semedo is likely to play, but there is comfort in Doherty’s different skillset. Gary O’Neil set Bournemouth up with four at the back and that will likely be the case at Molineux, if nothing else for personnel reasons. With only three recognised first team centre-backs and rumours about a Max Kilman departure swirling all summer, they may yet be called into action together if Wolves choose to sit in and defend leads. Doherty is no centre-half and has never been asked to be one, but were he shifted inside he wins a similar percentage of aerial duels and makes a similar number of blocks to his recently-departed centre-back countryman Nathan Collins.

If Wolves are dominating possession and need creativity, Doherty should and likely will get meaningful minutes with an increased goal threat and creative influence. With squad depth a consistent issue and question marks over the attacking options, Wolves will desperately hope that Doherty proves as shrewd of a signing as his statistics and previous spell suggest. Sentimental his signing may feel as he prepares to play second fiddle, but there is obvious scope for him to be important in his second spell at Molineux.

[all stats from FBRef]


What can Wolves fans expect under Gary O’Neil

A less-than-ideal summer has led to a wild week within the ranks at Wolverhampton Wanderers. As Julen Lopetegui leaves the club after just nine months in charge, ex-Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil has found himself at the helm. Less than a week before the season opener at Old Trafford.

During the negotiations surrounding Lopetegui’s departure, the club reportedly held positive talks with the Englishman. What can fans come to expect from their side under O’Neil?

Steadying the ship

After a 9-0 defeat away at Anfield, O’Neil was placed in charge at Bournemouth, originally on an interim basis. With 16 goals conceded in three games, changing the fortunes of a side seemingly in disarray was never going to be a simple task. O’Neil was given one job, to steady the ship.

In his first match in charge, his side achieved a morale-boosting result. Wolves, with Bruno Lage in charge, failed to score away at The Vitality. Whilst not being the prettiest, a 0-0 draw at home proved vital for the Cherries, kick-starting a six-match unbeaten run.

Wins against the likes of Nottingham Forest and Leicester, and draws against Newcastle, Brentford and Fulham saw the club amass crucial points as the World Cup break neared.

January reinforcements proved to be crucial to see the club over the line regarding safety. Post-World Cup, the tight nature of last campaign’s relegation was evident. As Wolves proved under Lopetegui, only a handful of wins would be required to achieve safety with games to spare.

O’Neil’s side did what they had to do. With highlight wins against the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham, the club were successfully steered away from relegation with two games remaining.

A likeable and honest manager who completed the task set in keeping Bournemouth in the top flight. His departure came as a surprise. However, higher ups within the club decided that a more nuanced approach was the way forward, hence the appointment of highly regard Andoni Iraola. What does this mean for Wolves?

Tactical outlook

On the pitch, O’Neil set his side up in a 442, with the outlook being to get the best out of the exciting attacking players at his disposal following on from the January transfer window. The signings of Dango Ouattara and Matias Vina, in particular, allowed Bournemouth to be much more expansive in counter-attacking scenarios.

A sense of ‘common sense’ was applied within the tactical setup. Remaining tight and compact defensively mitigated the issues (whilst not perfectly) present earlier in the season, whilst the attacking values revolved around getting the best out of their more technically gifted forwards.

Racking up nearly half of Bournemouth goals between them, there were no two players more important to the side, than Dominic Solanke and Philip Billing.

Billing was deployed in a role much higher up the pitch than had come to be expected of the Dane throughout his career. Acting as an archetypal ‘second-striker’, Billing thrived under O’Neil. With seven goals to his name, he formed half of a fantastic partnership with Dominic Solanke.

Solanke himself had his best goalscoring season in the Premier League, with six. However, his seven assists proved his importance to the side. He showcased himself as a versatile centre-forward, comfortable in deeper areas, whilst being vital in the final third.

In forward areas, the use of cutbacks became somewhat archetypal for Bournemouth. Yet again a ‘common sense’ approach, however, its effectiveness cannot be ignored. Wolves supporters will remember Marcus Tavernier’s winner at Molineux in February. A simple movement from Solanke dragged multiple defenders into wider areas, allowing Tavernier to ghost into the box, before bundling the ball home.

In terms of chance creation, cutbacks proved to be a vital source for Bournemouth. Philip Billing’s winner against Liverpool is a prime example. The excellent movement into the box, supplied by Solanke yet again.

This form of chance creation revolves around the idea of creating high-quality chances. Despite taking only 9.45 shots per game, ( the lowest in The Premier League, Gary O’Neil’s side managed to outscore their relegation rivals Southampton, Everton and Wolves.

O’Neil recognised the flaws in his side and adjusted to this. In a relegation battle, points are more important than performances. Remaining compact defensively, whilst being effective during transition proved crucial. A simple, yet efficient outlook that ultimately steered Bournemouth to safety.

How does this translate to Wolves?

Despite the talk revolving around behind the scenes issues at the club, pre-season performances against Luton and Stade Rennais raised the spirits of supporters in terms of on-the-pitch performance. Despite the lack of investment, there is the nucleus of a more than capable squad at Wolves. How might Gary O’Neil set up his side?

There is no doubt that under Lopetegui, Wolves were at their best when set up in a 442. In terms of profiles, the Wolves squad carries certain similarities with what O’Neil had at his disposal last campaign.

The use of a marauding left back works in the favour of both Rayan Ait-Nouri and Hugo Bueno. The transitional nature of the side could play a part when it comes to Pedro Neto getting back to his best.

These are just a handful of examples when it comes to profiles similar to that of O’Neil’s Bournemouth. All over the pitch, Wolves have the personnel to cause problems. The catch is that each individual requires the correct use, which has not been the case in recent times with what has seemed like a ‘square pegs in round holes’ approach.

The importance of Matheus Cunha

The correct use of Matheus Cunha will prove crucial. On multiple occasions last season, the Wolves were toothless in the final third. This was not aided with the clubs record signing being deployed in as a lone striker, in a team that created next to nothing. At his best, Cunha is a dynamic, elegant and forward-thinking ‘second striker’. This has been evident throughout pre season, where he has been effective when utilised correctly.

He may fit the bill for the Philip Billing role perfectly, and when diving deeper into the players, it is clear to see the similarities. Matheus, like Billing last campaign, is someone who carries great versatility. His ability to link the midfield and forward lines, whilst being able to capitalise on loose balls in the final third makes him an almost perfect profile for the ‘second-striker’ role.

During his final full season at Hertha Berlin, when Matheus was at his arguable best, his numbers speak for themselves. Recording seven goals and four assists across the campaign proved to be a respectable tally in a low-scoring side. His overall impact however set his move to Atletico Madrid in motion. According to, Cunha recorded 110 shot-creating actions over the course of the season. This role behind a natural centre forward allows The Brazilian to operate at his best. Only time will tell as to whether this will be Sasa Kalajdzic or Fabio Silva. However, when Cunha’s elegance and overall impact on a side is considered, he simply has to be a mainstay in the side.


To open a season in this manner, is far from ideal for any football club. Frustrations from supporters are understandable when a manager with Lopetegui’s credentials, is replaced by someone entering his second year in management.

With a difficult set of opening fixtures, will supporters give leverage to the new man at the helm? Or will the sour atmosphere around the club, which has been building over the summer months reach the point of toxicity?

Gary O’Neil is far from a statement appointment compared to his predecessor. A new dawn is yet again, on the horizon at at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Galvanising the squad and getting his ideas across quickly will prove to be crucial. The club simply cannot find themselves playing catch up yet again. Only time will tell as to whether this risk will pay off for the Wolves. However for now, it is over to you Gary O’Neil.



Wolves pinning hopes on 11-goal-a-season striker

Wolves top goal scorer last season returned an unimpressive six goals. These came from former captain Ruben Neves and an unsettled Daniel Podence, therefore this season Wolves will want an answer upfront in the goal scoring department.

Enter Fabio Silva

The Portuguese striker had a successful time away from Molineux in the 2022/23 season. It began with a loan to Anderlecht where he became a regular starter, starting 17 of his 20 appearances in the Belgium Pro League. Here he netted 11 goals in all competitions including a handful in the Europa Conference League helping Anderlecht qualify and then progress through the knockout rounds of the competition. In the January transfer window there was significant interest in the forward. Wolves wanted to further continue his development overseas, so they decided to terminate his loan at Anderlecht and he was then loaned out to Dutch side PSV.

This loan spell was a very different experience as starts were harder to come by with only five in the league but this did not get in the way of his successes. During this period the striker scored four in the Eredivisie, whilst also contributing in the goals in the Europa League with a Man of the Match performance against Sevilla in the knockout stages. Not only this, he also picked up some silverware by confidently slotting the winning penalty in the KNVB Cup final. In this vastly impressive season he scored 16 goals in all competitions, but now over to you Wolves.

How did he look in Pre-Season?

With lots of teams after his signature this summer he has returned for pre-season. He initially made a cameo and looked full of energy and helped create the penalty for Wolves’ equaliser. This was followed by a start at Molineux against newly promoted Luton where he played alongside freshly fit Sasa Kalajdzic. The two strikers combined fantastically, having lots of clear-cut chances but were very unfortunate not to score. It seemed like old woes were back at Molineux with strikers struggling to convert. However, in the final pre-season game against Stade Rennes it was due to be a hard test after the French side had comfortably beaten West Ham and Nottingham Forest before visiting Molineux. Wolves were victorious, winning 3-1. 

Fabio Silva was introduced at half time and had a large involvement in the 2nd goal. Matheus Nunes ran at the opposition defence and slipped it into Fabio Silva who nonchalantly left the ball for Joao Gomes who placed the ball past the goalkeeper.

What role will Fabio Silva play this season?

Despite the uncertainty around Silva’s future he has stated in an interview with the Express and Star “If I do stay I will give 100 percent” and then in an interview with Wolves he claims “My confidence is more than 100 percent because I feel happy, I feel the love from the fans and I feel the love from everyone with me in the training ground”. Unfortunately for Wolves it is hard to be certain the young Portuguese will stay at the club due to the need to sell this summer to avoid FFP implications.

Hopefully, it can be seen that this newly confident striker in a Wolves shirt could be a huge success this season and give the new manager (if it seems to be Gary O’Neil) a tough decision to make on his team selection this season. 

Impressive performances from Matheus Cunha in pre-season has seen the Brazilian start more games, but a partnership with Sasa Kalajdzic playing off the target man as an advanced forward could be seen as an effective forward line that can hopefully create a flurry of goals for Wolves upfront. This is a void which they have struggled to fill since Raul Jimenez’ fantastic season in 19/20.

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Has history repeated itself with Julen Lopetegui?

Julen Lopetegui did what fans feared most as he and Wolves agreed to part ways just days before the start of the season, leaving the club in a state of near turmoil. However, for those who know about the end of his reign at Sevilla, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

At Wolves, he found himself, yet again, at the heart of a club in need of a revamp and in financial trouble. His last season at Sevilla was marred with warning signs from past campaigns, as was his current one with Wolves.

With key players leaving to help balance the books, and money not being available to get adequate replacements, it seemed once again that the Spaniard was going to have to endure a difficult campaign with his bottle and tactical nouse strained more than ever before.

Finding himself at loggerheads with his board is not something new, and FOSUN should’ve seen this coming when they decided to restrict funds due to their spending in January.

Despite great achievements at Sevilla, behind-the-scenes issues plagued his last season in charge. So the key question is, was his new tenure plagued by the same issues as in Spain, and should FOSUN have seen this coming?

What are the similarities and differences between his time in Seville and Wolverhampton? Let’s take a look.


A bit of context:

By the time Lopetegui had been appointed, Sevilla had experienced a chaotic few seasons behind the scenes, masked by impressive performances on the field by key players.

President Jose Maria Del Nido had also been arrested on corruption charges and fans were understandably frustrated at a lack of stability at the top.

Legendary sporting director Monchi had left for Roma, and Sevilla’s managerial and playing recruitment had suffered as a result, with Monchi also suffering a poor run of recruitment at AS Roma.

Monchi returned to Sevilla in 2019, and with him came Lopetegui. They were tasked with bringing some stability to the club with smart signings and tactical nouse, something Monchi thought was a given due to Lopetegui’s pedigree.

With 3 successive top 4 finishes and a Europa League win, it’s fair to say it worked.


Hobbs and Lop – The biggest ‘what could’ve been?’

One key point of note was that Lopetegui had a very good relationship with Sevilla sporting director Monchi, according to The Analyst.

They managed to sign players from smaller, niche markets and develop them into better players. They had some huge successes such as Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde, but also recruited some duds across their few years together.

The first window under Lopetegui marked wholesale changes and some intelligent buys with him and Monchi working well in tandem to rejuvenate the Sevilla squad, with seven new players lining up in his first team.

Not too dissimilar to the start he had at Wolves during the January window, where he brought in five first-team-ready players.

The synergy between Matt Hobbs and Lopetegui in the January transfer window was quickly picked up on and expressed in interviews by Hobbs. A good sign for Wolves and one which would’ve sounded oddly similar to Sevilla in 2019.

Both men were newly appointed (although Hobbs was promoted from within) and they were both set the task of leading the club through a challenging period and to get them competing at a higher level.

Whilst they managed to comfortably keep Wolves up, there is a real feeling FOSUN could have taken advantage of this blossoming partnership to try and recreate a similar effect to what Monchi and Lopetegui did at Sevilla.

In the last year of Lopetegui’s reign, Sevilla’s recruitment didn’t quite hit the same heights with Monchi seemingly losing his mojo.

Due to the small sample size for Hobbs and Lopetegui’s work together we can only theorize how their recruitment could’ve played out.

There was some disagreement on player signings, Hobbs had eluded to wanting to keep Nathan Collins despite him being sold to Brentford. Monchi had similar issues with Lopetegui’s decision to sign Isco on a free transfer.

Despite that, it’s certainly a frustrating end to what could have and should have been a long and fruitful relationship between manager and sporting director – what was a rare sense of stability for Wolves.


Spending of the past haunting the present

Sevilla and Wolves have had similar strategy changes whereby they banked on success or achieving a certain goal to maintain their spending. They aren’t the first clubs to do it, but it represents a dangerous strategy.

In his second season in Sevilla, they began to sign experienced players on bigger wages, relying on qualifying for the Champions League and progressing into the knockouts. Being knocked out early in the group stage began their issues with FFP in Spain.

The issue was that other clubs knew of Sevilla’s very public financial troubles, therefore lessening their bargaining power in the transfer window (starting to sound familiar anyone?).

Wolves pursued a similar strategy by spending big money on players to try and push the club back into Europe. What ensued was a perfect example of poor squad building and a lack of understanding of how to balance a team.

You could argue this began under Nuno with the acquisitions of Fabio Silva and Nelson Semedo. Whilst they have performed to a decent standard it’s hard to see past the roughly £60m fee it took to bring them in. They have seen no return on that investment.

Another £30m was spent on Goncalo Guedes and £40m was thrown at Matheus Nunes. Guedes never wanted to join and only lasted six months, and Nunes was underwhelming at best.

They signed players for high fees with increasingly poorer resale value due to age and/or poor performances, leading to them having financial issues down the line.

Wolves have also taken a three-year bank loan from Macquarie against their Premier League revenue, meaning if relegation were to occur, they could be in potentially deeper financial trouble.

A lack of financial security and spending left three of Sevilla’s managers competing with a stale squad with a lack of previous star power, as was the issue for Nuno (in his final season), Bruno Lage, and now Lopetegui.

When Lopetegui joined in November 2022, the spending of the Nuno and Lage eras was already plaguing the club. Then they spent around £100m in January 2023 to keep the club from dropping into the championship.

With Sevilla being in a chasm of debt this summer, the story is starting to sound similar…

Sevilla’s financial issues left Lopetegui with an increasingly aging squad of players and without the money to replace them. Whilst Wolves’ squad wasn’t old when he was appointed, it was more or less stale after a couple of years of stagnation when Lopetegui arrived.

Again, without the money to revamp it bar a few new signings in the January window.

Sevilla also had to sell their star centre-back pairing of Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde just to balance the books. Similar to what Wolves have done this summer.

In fact, the side has been left with only two senior centre-backs in the entire squad, namely Max Kilman and Craig Dawson.

Sevilla raised 90m Euros in sales in the summer of 2022 but only reinvested 28m Euros of that money. Some of that on free agents. This was due to older players on big wages refusing to leave and causing strain on their finances.

Lopetegui felt let down by the board for not signing ready-made players for the Champions League. A quote from The Analyst during his time in Seville states “Lopetegui, an embattled manager coming into the season, feels like the club hasn’t properly backed him.”

A similar narrative has played out this summer with Lopetegui again feeling aggrieved at the lack of support and resources available to sign what he feels are ready-made players.

Lopetegui has twice now inherited a squad in need of a revamp. This time he faced the issues he did in his last season with Sevilla but in his first with Wolves.


A story of two sides

Lopetegui was known at Sevilla for bringing passion back to the club, something which Wolves fans have seen plenty of since he joined.

Some will argue that the squad is still far better than the one left to Bruno Lage, and you would have a case to make. Wolves’ squad is young and full of flexibility, energy, and technical quality.

With the vast wages paid to him and his staff you could make a case that, as an elite coach, he could have stayed and worked with what he had. Something coaches have had to show in past eras in order to prove their worth as elite.

However, at the same time, a manager of his caliber will not accept the bare minimum considering he was dragged from a personal family issue and joined after a very taxing final season at Sevilla.

Unfortunately, that is what FOSUN have delivered. Whilst you have to respect the fact they don’t want to ruin the club financially, there is still a looming issue of what happens if Wolves do go down.

Whilst some may argue his stabs at the board did not help the sense of unity Wolves needed, you can hardly blame him if he was not properly informed of the financial situation before the summer.

It’s all well and good wanting to wait until next summer so Wolves aren’t in unassailable debt, but if they go down this strategy doesn’t matter. It’s simply a huge risk and Lopetegui knew it.

The search will have to go on to find an adequate replacement, but the overarching frustration is that FOSUN really missed a golden opportunity to push for the top half and even Europe after getting the manager they have wanted since they took over.



Man City 3-0 Wolves Player Ratings

Just like the reverse fixture at the Molineux Wolves lose out 3-0 to Man City, this time a shambolic refereeing display and mistakes see Erling Haaland bag a hat-trick and send us home empty-handed once again. It’s back to the drawing board for Julen Lopetegui and his men, changes will have to be implemented and it remains to be seen if more new faces will be here come our next fixture on the 4th of February against Liverpool.


Jose Sa

Made some routine saves in the first half and that is as good as it gets, he made an unforgivable mistake in the second half that hit the nail in the coffin for Wolves. Has not been able to carry his form from the last season and has made various mistakes this season. The ball at his feet under pressure is clearly not his forte.




 Hugo Bueno

A cautious and conservative performance from the Spaniard kicked the ball out of play on a few occasions, tried his best going forward and managed to put some crosses in. Was always going to be a difficult game with the likes of Riyad Mahrez and co down his flank. Wolves did give in for the first goal as the ball was played back to De Bruyne and nobody closed him down on that flank. Could have been Subbed for Ait-Nouri earlier.




Max Kilman

A body check foul in a dangerous area which lead to his early yellow card is about the only negative I can think of for Kilman, kicked the ball out of play once or twice when under pressure but was okay on the other occasions and lead a steady game for himself.


Nathan Collins

A solid performance but the Irish international continues to have lapses of concentration in his game. Was beaten by Haaland for the first goal and followed with an irrational tackle inside the box minutes later which could have cost Wolves a penalty. Did make a good clearance off the line and some good play with the ball apart from a misplaced pass in the second half, still not consistent enough during the course of games though.



Nelson Semedo

Not a terrible performance but not great either, misplaced some passes which lead to City’s chances and booted the ball up the field on one occasion when he could have calmly kept possession and moved the team up the other end of the pitch. Could have been a much more difficult evening if it wasn’t for the excellent work Lemina did to cover and help out on that flank.


Mario Lemina

Although he was given an undeserved yellow card early on in the game, he was one of if not Wolves’ best players today. His movement on and off the ball was excellent, and his willingness to get on the ball and get the team moving did not go unnoticed, also did really well defensively.



Ruben Neves

Gave his heart out as usual but it was not enough. The penalty he conceded was very light, and it remains to be seen if there was any contact at all between him and Gundogan, you have your doubts if it would have been given had it been the other end of the field.



Matheus Nunes

Clearly starting to see the player he actually is under the management of Julen Lopetegui. Showed glimpses of what he can do, carried the team forwards on many occasions and made some great passes. Although being dispossessed and the misplaced passes in our own box mean the rating can’t be any higher.



Adama Traore

Struggle to remember anything of note he did in that first half, covered Semedo down that right-hand side and carried the ball upfield twice before being eventually fouled by his opponents. Nothing else to be reported as Wolves didn’t see much of City’s box and half in the first 45 minutes.


Raul Jimenez

Getting slightly and slowly better game by game under Lopetegui but he is clearly miles away from being the old Jimenez and it is sad to see. Not much to report for him either and that is one of the reasons he was taken off before the second-half action was recommenced.



Hwang Hee Chan

The most mobile and dynamic out of the front three in that half and I think that says a lot, was more involved than Traore and Jimenez but the highlight of his game remains a nutmeg and not much else, as Traore did, he doubled down to help Bueno on that flank on different occasions.




Joao Moutinho 45′ (Hwang Hee-Chan)

More energy and a lot of tackles to recover the ball, obviously what he was instructed to do and that is what earns him a pass from me. The game was gone when City scored their second goal of the game though.


Matheus Cuhna 45′ (Raul Jimenez)

Continues to do well, could argue that he should have started the game in place of Raul. His movement is very good and if Wolves want to start moving up the table he should be getting a run in the team.



Pablo Sarabia 45′ (Adama Traore)

His first game for the club struggled to impact the game with one shot that should have resulted in a penalty for the men in Old Gold and another shot that reached row Z. Hopefully won’t take him too long to get acclimatised and firing.



Daniel Podence 67′ (Mario Lemina)

The pick from the players that came off the bench. Looked lively, had some shots and got the team up the field. Could have been brought on earlier and a shame one of his shots hit the side netting.



Rayan Ait Nouri 80′ (Hugo Bueno)

The last of the players to come on off the bench when the game was all over and done with.