Sports News

Wolves: Where next for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side after rapid rise?

Under Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s (left) leadership the club won promotion and then qualified for Europe

It is less than six years since Wolves went to Crawley Town for a midweek League One game.

Those who were there can still remember that depressing excursion to Sussex. The pitch was bad. The facilities were bad. The result – a 2-1 defeat – was bad. The three-and-a-half-hour bus ride and return home at 2.30am was bad.

As they prepare to host Espanyol in the last 32 of the Europa League, nights like those at the Broadfield Stadium belong to a different era.

There was a false start. In their first season after the club was bought for £45m by Chinese conglomerate Fosun International in 2016, Wolves went through three managers and at one point went two months without a win on their way to a 15th-place Championship finish.

But two games into the following campaign, talk inside the club became about promotion to the Premier League. One player was so convinced he told club media only a month later that Wolves were going up. The interview was never published. But he was right. And Wolves’ fortunes have not stopped rising since.

Fosun, through their mega-rich chairman Guo Guangchang and Jeff Shi, Wolves’ executive chairman, have changed a lot of things in the last four years. Mindset was the most important.

Wolves’ commercial department make a virtue of the Black Country slang ‘Ay We’ in some of their advertising. Fans used to talk about it in a negative manner. Anything that could go wrong would, the theory went, because ‘We are Wolves, Ay We’.

Financially, the club budgeted expecting the worst. In the Championship, that was for just outside the play-offs. It created a mindset where eighth was regarded as acceptable when, in truth, it wasn’t for a club whose supporters had grown up with tales of the 1950s, of titles, FA Cups and Honved