Just like Manchester City in the Premier League, Wolverhampton Wanderers are currently running away with the league they are in. Wolves currently sit at the top of the Championship with 61 points, 12 points ahead of second place Derby County. With little sign of a slip up happening, it seems it is a case of when and not if Wolves will return to the Premier League. However, the club owners have invested heavily in a bid to return to England’s top tier. Is the current Wolves Championship success therefore down to money, the talents of their latest manager Nuno Espírito Santo or could it be more than this?
Wolves Championship Success: Money, Manager or More?
It’s no secret that the club has spent heavily in their attempts to get back into the Premier League. Not that this makes a return a guarantee; however, having funds will always help no matter what league you are in. Chinese owners Fosun International have not been shy in splashing the cash. Over £50 million has been spent over the last two seasons on player recruitment, not including free and loan signings. This money has brought in the likes of Rúben Neves (£16 million) from FC Porto and Hélder Costa (£13 million) from Benfica.
Wolves have also used the loan list and free market well too. Experienced keeper John Ruddy came in at the beginning of this season for free, young winger Diogo Jota was signed on loan from Atlético Madrid and French defender Willy Boly signed on loan from Porto. These signings amongst others have helped the team become favourites to not only return to the Premier League but win the Championship on their way.
Nuno Espírito Santo was given the task of taking Wolves back to the Premier League in May 2017. So far he has impressed as the club lead the Championship. The former Portuguese U21 international had no previous experience of managing in England. However, he has managed high profile clubs in both Spain and his native Portugal.
His experience in these leagues and his knowledge of their players has allowed him to bring in quality that is more than good enough for England’s second tier. Although some of these may be on loan, if the club reaches the Premier League these deals could become permanent. Expect other quality players from Southern Europe to head to the Midlands too.
Santo’s passion for the game is a big part of his managerial style. Sent to the stands on more than one occasion this season, his passion can get out of control at times; however, it is this display that has seen the fans of Wolves welcome him with open arms into their pack. His passionate style has obviously had a positive effect on his team. Due to this passion and also team spirit, they are now odds-on favourites to be promoted.
Even though he has only been in the county since last summer, Santo has already attracted interest from Premier League Clubs looking for a man to take them forward. If Santo continues to improve as a manager and if Wolves continue the way they are, expect more clubs to be taking a very close look at him with a view of appointing him.
More: The Jorge Mendes Effect
Portuguese football agent Jorge Mendes, often known as a ‘super agent’ was employed as an agent for the club when Fosun took over. His client list is like a who’s who of football. It includes the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, José Mourinho, David De Gea and Diego Costa. When Mendes joined he oversaw the recruitment of 12 players within the first six weeks. Several of Mendes’s clients have been brought in as have some of his associates. This includes manager Santo.
For now, Wolves are reaping the rewards of having Mendes involved; however, some cynics believe he could be using Wolves as a shop window for his clients so that they and himself can profit further down the line. The other side of the argument is that for now, the team are heading in the right direction. Also, any likely profit made in the future will go back into player recruitment. Time will tell.
The Last Word
After several disappointing seasons, Wolverhampton Wanderers look to be heading back to the top flight of English Football. The club, like many others, has had its highs (League Champions, FA and League Cup winners) and its lows (near financial ruin and three successive relegations). Their fans will be hoping that another successful spell is just beginning as they continue to run away with the Championship. Time will tell if they can compete if/when they are promoted. Watch this space.