A Season In Review: Wolves

In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Check out the penultimate edition of this series, featuring West Ham, here!

Transfer Windows

Wolves had a bit of a clearout this season. They sent out Conor Coady on loan to Everton, and Guedes found himself going out on loan also.

A plethora of players left as free agents, including John Ruddy, Leo Bonatini, Marcel and Saiss. A few players also left on permanent deals. Defender Boly made the switch to Nottingham Forest, and Vinagre moved to Sporting CP.

Dendoncker made the move to Aston Villa, and one of the more surprising transfers for Wolves and their fans was the transfer of Morgan Gibbs-White, an exciting young attacker, who joined Boly in moving to Nottingham Forest.

After a big clearout, Wolves needed to invest. They did not bring too many loans in, which just one joining, that being Cunha from Athletico Madrid. The only other player they did not spend any money on, was the free-agent signing of Diego Costa, in an attempt to bring some much-needed goals to the club.

Wolves made a double signing from The Championship, bringing in goalkeeper Daniel Bentley from Bristol City, and Nathan Collins from Burnley. There was only one other signing from the English league, and it was another defender, this time experienced centre-back Craig Dawson from West Ham.

Wolves felt their midfield ranks needed bolstering, as they brought in Mario Lemina from Nice, Joao Gomes from Flamengo, and Matheus Nunes from Sporting CP. All that was left for Wolves was to add some attacking options, and they certainly did that.

Sarabia made the move from French giants PSG to give Wolves another option on the wings. Hwang Hee-Chan made the move from RB Leipzig, Kalajdzic moved from Stuttgart and Guedes arrived from Valencia.

Wolves transfer window was rather hit-and-miss. Some of the players they brought in performed brilliantly. Craig Dawson surprised many with his performances for Wolves, and Matheus Nunes was another standout player for them.

Other players, however, were a massive letdown. Diego Costa was brought in to help score goals when Wolves were struggling, which he failed to do. His aggression issues flared again as he got sent off in one of his first games. A completely mixed bag for Wolves this season.

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Managerial Changes

Life did not start well for Wolves this season under Bruno Lage. He lasted just 8 games into the season, with Wolves winning the sole game, a 1-0 win at home against Southampton. Lage lost 4 of the 8 games, with 2 of those coming against the top 6 sides.

It may have been slightly unfortunate for him to be sacked. The games they all lost were close games, apart from a 3-0 loss against Man City, and the football on display was not terrible, but after losing 2-0 away against West Ham, Lage got sacked.

Steve Davies took over as interim manager as the board conducted their search, and he stayed in the role for longer than most may have expected. Davies was in charge for 7 Premier League games, and like Lage, only produced one win, a 1-0 home win against Nottingham Forest.

After 5 defeats, including hammerings at the hands of Chelsea and Leicester, the board finally made their decision. As the teams broke up for the Winter World Cup, they brought in Julen Lopetegui.

The decision proved fruitful, as Lopetegui slowly guided Wolves to safety and a comfortable finish in the bottom half of the table in the end. It was a change that saved them in the end.

Key Games

There can only really be one game that is chosen here, and that is their win against Liverpool at the start of February. Both sides were struggling, Wolves still contended with relegation, and Liverpool struggling to pick up any form, and were miles off the Champions League places, both sides were in desperate need of 3 points.

But it was Wolves, who were uncharacteristically hungry, and determined to put on a show in this game. They raced into an early lead, and a slightly fortuitous one at that, as Matip put through his own net within the first 5 minutes.

It was not long before Wolves fans were on their feet against, as 7 minutes later, new signing Craig Dawson made it 2-0 from a corner. As the game went on, Wolves were looking more and more dangerous from set pieces, and Dawson could have scored more than just one.

The longer the game went on, the more Liverpool grew into it, but Wolves were being resilient in defence. Lopetegui had them set up perfectly to deal with Liverpool.

The only other action of note came in the second half, as Ruben Neves made it 3-0, a slightly surprising score line for many, but one that certainly gave Wolves the confidence to go on and keep themselves in the league.

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Cup Competitions

Carabao Cup

Wolves kickstarted their Carabao Cup journey with a home game against Championship side Preston in the second round. They got off to a kick start as Jiminez opened the scoring within the first 10 minutes, and Traore made it 2-0 before the half-hour mark.

Hwang Hee-Chan failed to make it a perfect first half, as he missed his penalty. Ben Woodburn pulled one back 3 minutes after halftime, but Wolves held on to book a spot in the third round.

Their third-round fixture was an all-Premier League tie at home against Leeds. The game was an extremely tight affair, settled by just one goal. In the 85th minute, Traore found the back of the net for the home side, sending Wolves through.

Their fourth-round fixture was a fairly simple one, at home against League Two side Gillingham. It was anything but simple for Wolves, however, as they were made to wait before they took the lead.

They were awarded a penalty with 13 minutes left to play, which Jiminez duly dispatched, giving Wolves the lead, and Ait-Nouri made sure of their progression, making it 2-0 in the 91st minute.

Wolves were finally drawn an away fixture in the quarter-finals, against Nottingham Forest. Former Wolves man Boly came back to haunt his former club as he opened the scoring for Nottingham Forest after 18 minutes.

Wolves did hit back in the second half and equalised through Jiminez. There was no late drama in this one, as it went to penalties. Surridge and Neves both missed each sides first penalty before a clean set from either team meant that Hodge had to score for Wolves to keep them in it. He missed, sending Forest through, and knocking Wolves out.

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FA Cup

Wolves were given a tough fixture in the opening FA Cup game, a third-round tie away against Liverpool. Wolves were up for it though, as Guedes opened the scoring for the away side after 26 minutes. Darwin Nunez made sure both sides went in at half-time level, equalising in first-half stoppage time.

Salah put the hosts in front 7 minutes after the restart, but Wolves brought themselves level just after the hour mark, with Hwang Hee-Chan finding the back of the net. Wolves could have and probably should have won it late on, but the tie got taken to a replay.

The replay was a much tighter affair, settled by one goal. Harvey Elliot put Liverpool through with his goal on 13 minutes, sending Wolves crashing out, despite performing admirably in both games.

Season Overall

Overall, it was a positive season for Wolves in the end. If they started the season better, who knows what position they could have ended up in, but they stayed in the league, and they will be happy with that.

They need to bring the right players in now. Costa had little to no effect on the squad, and it almost seemed like a panic signing. They need to get their business done early and bring in the right calibre of players for their play style.

They did well in the Carabao Cup and may be slightly disappointed to be knocked out on penalties, and their FA Cup journey can be excused. They should have won the first leg, but I do not think anyone even gave them a chance against Liverpool.

They need to push on now. They need to be finishing in the top half of the table, and they need to be progressing in these cup competitions. They used to be a hard side to beat, and Lopetegui needs to bring this back to them.

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