How did Wolves finish the season?

What looked to be a never-ending 2019/20 season has finally come to an end and that’s only after Wolves were knocked out in the Quarter Finals of the Europa League by five-time winners Sevilla. The season lasted 383 days (13 months) and saw Wolves play a total of 59 matches. A very long season indeed that had some very good moments (Man City home & away and Spurs away to name a few) and others not worth mentioning. One thing for sure is that Wolves won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.

 As our season is done and dusted, I think it’s the right moment to express my thoughts and opinions. It’s very easy to come out and say Wolves had a poor season or the ending was very disappointing. I am a bit disappointed by the way it all panned out. I think anybody would be if they were in the same position as Wolves were before the Premier League restart. Wolves were all daring to dream and those three fixtures after the re-start (West Ham, Bournemouth and Villa) almost made it seem a possibility and in fact, it was, Wolves just didn’t have it in us to get there. As you say, so close yet so far because Wolves were within touching distance. I don’t believe it’s a case of, oh if only Wolves had won that particular match, then Wolves would have been in Champions or Europa League.  Yes, you could argue about that and say that’s technically how it is but the Premier League is 38 games long, not a 1 match decider. I would say Wolves simply weren’t good enough or performing on a consistent basis to be in contention for one of those spots.

I am sure Nuno and his coaching staff acknowledge that and they will be working hard to find and rectify what went wrong or what wasn’t done in the right manner.  

That said, I’m not trying to take away anything Wolves did or accomplished this season because that would be a silly thing to do, Wolves finished 7th in the Premier League while managing to reach the Quarter Finals of the Europa League, all in our second season of the very demanding and challenging Premier League, not to mention it was our first appearance in European competition since the 1980/81 season. Although Wolves finished in the same position as last year and this time around, Wolves haven’t qualified for any European competition, the stats from this season are promising, they show a gradual improvement compared to last season. Wolves finished the season with more points (59, one extra point compared to the 2018/19 season), Wolves scored more goals (51 compared to 47), fewer goals conceded (40 compared to 46), obviously a better goal difference as well (+ 11 compared to +1), more clean sheets (13 compared to seven), fewer losses (nine compared to 13) and the gap to the top 4 has more than halved, as said before Wolves managed to reach these numbers while having a very small squad plus the added pressure of another demanding competition.

Wolves only used 21 players in the Premier League, the least out of all PL sides, in total in 59 games across all competitions (Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Europa League) Wolves used 28 players, 8 of whom played 50 games or more! Looking at the stats and numbers, there are definitely things I think Wolves could improve on and more than anything should. One thing that will have to happen for sure is the addition of 3/4  players.

 It’s good to have a small tight-knit team but after this season I think it’s sure to say more players are needed. Towards the end of the season, you could tell fatigue and pressure was kicking in and I believe it impacted us heavily, the matches post-restart showed exactly that. For me, it felt as if Wolves weren’t playing as good as Wolves have or could have done because I believe that on our day Wolves can beat any team. More and new faces at the club will not only be a breath of fresh air for the team but will also add competition within the team for starting places and more importantly squad depth that will allow rotation within the squad when needed. 

The other two things that will have to be addressed is the number of draws and the goal difference. With 14 draws in the PL, Wolves almost equalled the number of wins (15). Far too many for my liking, if you want to crack into the top 6, those draws will have to be transformed into wins. Ultimately, that’s what decided our position this season. The question to this problem is, how can it be fixed? I think it’s a case of not setting up so defensively in matches, trying to go for it and not settling for a draw. In regards to the goal difference, I don’t think goals conceded is a problem because the teams in and around the top 6 had similar numbers there, the same can’t be said for goals scored and that’s what put our goal difference down, Wolves need to be putting our chances away and not be wasteful in the final third. In the end, Wolves missed out on 6th place because of our goal difference, so if Wolves manage to sort these two things Wolves can even dream of higher positions.

One thing I would like to bring up and say is, it may be said that next season Wolves won’t be playing in Europe but in the end, I think it could be a blessing in disguise. Wolves won’t have the added pressure of another competition to be played in an already packed and congested calendar. I think that will allow us to focus and concentrate on the Premier League and maybe even try to win the FA Cup or Carabao Cup. Next season will be an interesting one to see what we’re capable of doing, definitely one you won’t want to miss out on.

Not only has it been a successful season on the pitch but also off it as well and I think it’s the right moment to talk about the success we’ve had there. Wolves have been able to expand their brand domestically and internationally, their image and name are now known and respected in many parts of the world.

 The Pre-season tournament in China, the opening of the megastore in Shanghai, 7th in the Premier League for a second season running, our Europa League run to the Quarter Finals, Wolves ranked within the top 20  most valuable football brands in the prestigious Brand Finance Football 20 report. Wolves placed 19th, making a rise of nine ranks from 28th in the 2019 report. Placed above AS Roma, AC, Milan, Ajax and Napoli. These are just some of the feats that helped Wolves expand, but their role within the local community and the constant aid and helping hand has been a class gesture that has shown what Wolves are really about.

The word I would use to describe this season is proud because, with all that Wolves have been able to achieve on and off the field, it’s something that has made me proud, a few years ago I would have never expected the club I support to reach these heights and in such a short time. Bring on the 2020/21 season.

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