The Championship Corner: Why Wolves are amongst the promotion favourites

Connect in the back of the net

We are now five games into the new Championship season and surprisingly Cardiff currently sit top of the pile having picked up maximum points.

Cardiff are closely followed by Ipswich who until last weekend also had a 100% record but regardless of their strong starts, neither of these sides are necessarily favourites for promotion.

One team who is tipped for promotion, however, is Wolverhampton Wanderers.

They are in fourth place on 10 points from a possible 15, and despite going off the boil a little bit in their last couple of fixtures, manager, Nuno Espirito Santo will expect them to be challenging at the top of the pile come May.


Superb start with a few wobbles

Wolves have made a superb start to the 2017/18 season but it could have been even stronger having only picked up a single point from their last two games after taking all 9 from their first three. This included an impressive opening day victory over fellow promotion chasers Middlesbrough.

What will be most disappointing for Wolves is that both of these games were winnable ones even if the former was against an in-form Cardiff. The game was a feisty one with a total of 26 fouls given and appeals for red cards turned down by referee Scott Duncan on more than one occasion.

Wolves dominated possession but this did not stop the match from becoming an end to end affair which Cardiff eventually edged with a 77th minute goal from former Wolves Academy player, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. This gave the away side an impressive 2-1 win.

Wolves then faced Brentford who have struggled so far this season. This game was also an entertaining affair but finished goalless with both sides having opportunities to win it.

The club have also progressed to the third round of the League Cup even pulling off a 2-0 away win against Premier League outfit Southampton in the second round. Southampton had put out quite a strong side too but they were still deservedly beaten by a rampant Wolves side on the night.


Spot-on summer deals

A key factor in Wolves’ early success and likely continued success this season is that they have added top quality signings to an already expensively assembled squad.

Three relatively high-profile names have joined the club in the shape of Diogo Jota, Leo Bonatini and the record holder for the youngest-ever Champions League captain and the highest Championship transfer fee paid, Ruben Neves.

All three of these additions so far have taken to life in the Championship quite well which is to be expected when you consider their quality. Each of these three acquisitions have already opened their goal scoring accounts for Wolves in the league and all of them have the ability to create chances both for themselves and others.

In Neves, Wolves have signed a combative defensive midfielder who is also an excellent passer of the ball with immense potential for the future. Jota meanwhile is both a dangerous player going forward in terms of his ability to score goals and equally create them. Bonatini rounds off this trio of newly signed talent with his superb eye for goal having proven himself both in Portugal and Saudi Arabia.


Douglas, a pleasant surprise

Perhaps surprisingly, another of Wolves’ summer signings has proven to be an equally useful addition and it is one that almost certainly slipped under most people’s radar.

That particular player is 27-year-old Scottish fullback Barry Douglas who was signed from Turkish side Konyaspor over the summer. Douglas has already scored for the club as well as providing a couple of assists and keeping two clean sheets, which is extremely impressive from fullback.

Whenever Douglas gets on the ball he looks like a danger going forward, something that is becoming increasingly important in the modern game.


A squad brimming with quality

As well as their recent signings, Wolves already have a series of quality players such as Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa amongst their ranks.

Costa, the club’s Player of the Season last year, is yet to feature this season due to injury and upon his return he will bring further quality to a squad already brimming with talent, and it will be interesting to see how Nuno Espirito Santo attempts to fit all this attacking quality into the side.

Even so, Wolves clearly have the talent to challenge right at the top of the Championship and are a strong bet for promotion back to the Premiership if they perform consistently to the high quality the team are capable of.


Written by James Bairstow

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