In each of the last seven seasons, the Premier League side with the worst record after 15 games has been demoted.
On the plus side, Newcastle was able to survive last season at this juncture because of Saudi money and Eddie Howe and only goal differential kept them off the bottom of the table. Leicester won the championship the next year and the year after they were the final side to move up from last place after 15 games.
But when Wolves’ new manager Julen Lopetegui says they have “a lot of finals” coming up, he is not mistaken.
The task’s magnitude is understood by the Chinese owners, Fosun. It is believed that they are willing to support Lopetegui with up to six new additions during the January transfer window, beginning with Brazilian striker Matheus Cunha of Atletico Madrid. It should be noted, however, that not all of these players will be starters.
Around Molineux, there is a confluence of optimism and steely resolve as Wolves gear up for the start of their Premier League season against Everton on Monday, December 26.
In terms of outcomes, it is simple to pinpoint when the Wolves’ steep decline began. On March 18, they were up 2-0 at the half of their home game against Leeds and on pace to move into sixth place, only two points behind the top four.
A remarkable Leeds comeback was launched seven minutes after the half by Raul Jimenez’s dismissal, which was completed by Luke Ayling in stoppage time. Since then, during the course of two seasons, Wolves has won just two of its 16 Premier League games, accrued 11 points, and failed to score eight times.
Conor Coady, a well-liked captain, was moved out on loan to Everton after being deemed surplus to requirements. In order for the trade to go through, Wolves chairman Jeff Shi generously made compromises, but he did so out of respect for a player who had been such a good servant and had a World Cup spot to earn.
Behind the scenes, other problems were starting to emerge. The idea of a “lunch hour” had been developed by the previous manager Nuno Espirito Santo, where players and matchday personnel would gather in the canteen for a lively meal. According to sources, it was a key factor in creating such a positive atmosphere in the dressing room during the campaigns when Wolves were promoted and twice ended seventh in the Premier League. When Bruno Lage took over for Nuno in 2021, the policy was abandoned.
Medical exams weren’t conducted. It was considered that standards were falling.
Although Lage cannot assume full responsibility, as the manager, he is the one who needs to answer. The defensive switch from three to two at the back, which resulted in Coady’s departure, was championed by the Portuguese. Although he had support in the transfer market, he lacked bank finance to see him through a crisis when his performance didn’t improve.
Wolves and Lopetegui has been six years in making
The first time Lopetegui discussed managing Wolves was in 2016. He was going to try to lead the Black Country club back into the top tier of English football.
It never happened since Lopetegui received a job offer from Spain in its place. Both parties benefited from the decision. Spain won the World Cup thanks to Lopetegui. Nuno led the Wolves into the Premier League after a rocky start under Walter Zenga and Paul Lambert.
But a connection had already been made. After a prior successful term with Sevilla and under duress, Lopetegui was the Wolves’ first choice to replace Lage. After yet another false start brought on by Lopetegui’s father’s poor health and a very public rejection from then-QPR manager Michael Beale, the Spaniard eventually agreed.
Insiders with the Wolves have been pleased.
Accountability and demands have increased. There is now a code of behavior. Nuno’s “lunch hour” is back. The trick is to make a talented group of players appear less dispersed while they are on the field.
Lopetegui has a distinct vision for how the game ought to be conducted and won’t stray from it.
He claimed that “many journalists and even players think the system is crucial.” “However, the system is adaptable. Three, four, or five people can be seated in the back. You can build up or go out from the keeper and do a high press.
We won’t alter our approach because “the style is more essential than the system.”
The wolves must score more goals
Should Wolves return to the Championship, Lopetegui and the team are mum on their future plans. Both claim that they prefer to think positively and prioritize their survival.
However, it is difficult to imagine the union remaining in the second tier for monetary and status-related reasons.
Fun certainly appears eager to spend in order to give Wolves the best opportunity of avoiding having to deal with such difficult situations, defying the overall tendency of Chinese ownership.
Despite the fact that Lopetegui believes there are many areas for development, one sticks out. The wolves have trouble scoring goals.
Their eight Premier League points are three fewer than the next two worst-performing clubs, Everton and Nottingham Forest.
With six goals each, Jimenez and Daniel Podence led the Wolves in scoring last season. Ruben Neves and Pedro Neto tied on five the previous year.
These four totals put together are less than Jimenez’s 27 goals from the 2019–20 season when Wolves advanced to the Europa League quarterfinals before being defeated by Lopetegui’s Sevilla, who ultimately won the tournament.
The wolves have not scored a Premier League goal this season after the 56th minute.
It is a terrible number that raises questions about both internet accessibility and fitness.
In the EFL Cup match against League Two Gillingham, Diego Costa resumed his quest for his first goal for Wolves. Although Jimenez scored from the penalty spot, his future is uncertain.
Although Cunha’s arrival solves the issue, he is unable to change things on his own. For Wolves to turn their season around, Lopetegui is aware that there must be a general improvement at the top end of the pitch.
In his own words, the first of 23 finals will take place at Goodison Park. Wolves will continue to be in the bottom three even if they succeed. Since Lopetegui’s reputation is not good and the task is not simple,