It’s been a start to the season of two halves for Wolverhampton Wanderers with highs and lows. But, what will be most important for Gary O’Neil’s side this season is to remain above and better than Everton, Sheffield United, Luton and Burnley.
Do that, and they will ensure their safety in the Premier League. Those four and Bournemouth are the sides at the moment below Wolves, and the beginning to the season suggests and indicates that they will make up the bottom six.
With one win from four so far, the five teams below O’Neil’s side in the table are all winless, and they’ll bank on being better than and above those teams for the remainder of the season. It’s apparent that the other 14 Premier League teams above the bottom six are clear of the ones below, and not sides the likes of Wolves will be aiming to compete with. They’ll aim to beat the sides around them - the ones that matter most - and pick up some points and wins along the way which will help them to another year of safety.
By doing this, it should make it more comfortable than it was last season as Julen Lopetegui led Wolves to the escape of relegation. Lopetegui has since gone, and some Wolves fans are already calling for O’Neil to be replaced after a disappointing 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace away from home. One player who helped Wolves dearly last season with his six goals, which was the most of any Wolves player, was Daniel Podence, and it has recently been announced that the 27-year-old will spend the season on loan at Olympiakos.
Defeats to Manchester United, Brighton and Crystal Palace can all be understandable, given the quality of these sides. It hasn’t been an easy start for Wolves facing clubs they aren’t really competing with. A spirited season-opening performance against United nearly and should’ve earned O’Neil’s side some points, but then Wolves slumped to a heavy home defeat against Brighton who have gone from strength-to-strength.
The win against Everton was crucial, and that’s one ticked off for the season against the teams that it matters against. Luton are everyone’s favourites for relegation but the other two places remain open. The high that Wolves experienced after claiming late victory at Goodison Park will be one they’ll hope to experience many times again this season in the games which really matter.
Following a clash with Liverpool at Molineux, Wolves travel to Luton in what’ll be another must win game, and if they are to survive another season, these are the games to be winning. Gary O’Neil will be targeting fixtures like this to ensure three points on the board, and will hope to see off the Hatters and make it two victories for the season and what would be from an opening six games.
Keep that record up, and it would all-but surely secure safety...
When it was announced that Matheus Nunes had completed his £53m move to Manchester City, Sporting director Matt Hobbs was hailed as a genius and saviour for his good business. Moreover, the several signings made before the end of the transfer window were commended by the Wolves faithful. It remains to see what quality these players have and what they’ll be like for Wolves, but there were plenty of positives for the side.
It’s going to take a little bit of time for things to settle and for players to adjust to O’Neil’s way of playing, and after another tough game against Liverpool, Wolves may find themselves picking up a few more points. Last year the side really struggled away from home, but this season they’ve already been able to pick up an away victory against Everton and will hope to do the same against Luton in a few weeks. However, first comes Liverpool, after an international break, and who knows the side could even cause a surprise and upset at Molineux.