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Turning Portuguese, I think I’m Turning Portuguese… - Wolves Pre-Season Report
Wednesday, 2nd Aug 2017 11:50 by HarryFromBath

In the 20th of a series of pre-season reports, HarryfromBath assesses the mood around the Championship clubs by delving into their forums, focusing here on a summer of change at Molineux. A report on Aston Villa will follow later today and all teams in the division will be covered by the start of the season.

“What a first team we have now”, “It’s definitely a new dawn. Everyone is happy to receive the ball with everyone making themselves available. It’s early days but a joy to watch”, “Passing and moving, little triangles and best of all with a purpose to it”, “Let’s hope that this is the year we start again.”

“We are playing football for the first time since I can’t remember when.” Eleven new players have arrived at Molineux this summer and Wolves fans have been transfixed by the quality of the football they have been playing. “The quality we possess is staggering, it is an absolute joy to watch these players.”

“We are playing the kind of football I have been dreaming of. I love the intricate passing, long balls spread to players’ feet, vision and confidence. It’s league away from last season”, “We are just so comfortable on the ball, often manoeuvring ourselves out of trouble with four or five quick passes.”

A minority of West Midlanders are urging caution. “I’m quite sure that our squad would perform as well, if not better than Huddersfield or Brighton in the Premier League, but it will be a far different kettle of fish getting out of this division.”

Nuno Espirito Santo

“It seems Nuno has drilled the players to within an inch of their lives”, “He won’t create free-scoring teams but one which will try to control the game for 90 minutes”, “His style of play restricts the number of chances opponents will get simply due to their having less of the ball to work with.”

Nuno Espirito Santo imageNuno Espirito Santo

“Driven, focused and professional, no messing about”, “I for one can live with the silent treatment.” The 43-year-old former Porto manager took charge at the end of May and has had little to say to the media. Wolves have been happy to witness progress on the pitch and for him to do his talking these.

“We are going to look very good defensively but the beauty of this style is that we will also be scarily good when counter-attacking”, “He has a brilliant reputation and has already attracted great players, and he has managed to get the team playing good football already.”

Departing Players

Five players have left the club permanently this summer and five have departed on loan. Midfielders George Saville and Jed Wallace are both now with Millwall, winger James Henry and defender Mike Williamson have both switched to Oxford and Town target Jón Daði Böðvarsson is now with Reading.

Bodvarson imageBodvarson

The five season-long loan transfers are keeper Jon Flatt (to Cheltenham), centre-half Ethan Ebanks-Landell (to Milton Keynes), midfielder Lee Evans (to Wigan), striker Niall Ennis (to Shrewsbury) and full-back Dominic Iorfa to Town. Defender Silvio has also left the club and is a free agent.

Unbelievable Signings

“I can’t quite believe we have these players”, “If we can get a striker and [currently injured] Helder Costa fit, we could be in for one hell of a season”, “There is one huge record-breaking striker-sized hole in that first XI for us.” Fans believe that there is one jigsaw piece needed to complete the squad.

Ruben Neves imageRuben Neves

The highest profile arrival has been 20-year-old midfielder Ruben Neves from Porto. Fans have been enthralled by the quality of his play. “He did one double hip twist and sent a Leicester player the wrong way. He didn’t even touch the ball, swivelling his hips and playing the ball out to the right.”

“There are no words”, “Neves’s quality is plain to see, he looks like he has more time than everyone else”, “He knows what he is going to do with the ball before he gets it. His physique should see him dealing well with the more agricultural side of the English game”, “He will be a big, big player for us.”

“Imperious.” Fans have been impressed with 26-year-old defender Willy Boly who has also arrived from Porto. “Boly is an absolute giant and cool as they come”, “He’s big, quick, strong and reads the game well, only right-footed but very good on the ball. I was impressed with his passing accuracy.”

“Roderick Miranda steps out of defence with the ball well and does the simple things well.” The 26-year-old defender from Rio Ave has also impressed in pre-season. “He has great calmness and he is relaxed in possession. He passes the ball well and links up play smoothly with the wing-backs.”

Willy Boly imageShinji Okazaki (Leicester City) v Willy Boly

“Diogo Jota is genuinely two-footed and deceptively fleet of foot, carrying the ball with intent.” The 20-year-old is on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid and also featured at Porto last year. “He possesses terrific skill and a direct style of play but will need a few matches to get fully up to speed.”

Two goalkeepers have arrived from English sides, 30-year-old John Ruddy from Norwich and Will Norris, 23, from Cambridge. Defender and former Town academy schoolboy Ryan Bennett, 27, has also joined from Carrow Road while 27-year-old one-time Dundee United defender Barry Douglas has signed from Turkish side Konyaspor.

Phil Ofosu-Ayeu, a 25-year-old defender has arrived from Eintracht Braunschweig. Two further loan signings have arrived, 23-year-old Brazilian striker Leo Bonatini from Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia and Ruben Vinaigre, a Portuguese 18-year-old defender from Monaco. “What a squad we have now.”

Pre-Season Developments

Wolves began their pre-season programme against two Czech sides in Austria, beating Viktoria Plzen 2-1 and losing 1-0 to FK Jablonec. Back in England, they lost 2-1 at Shrewsbury and finally recorded consecutive 1-0 wins, away to Peterborough and then at home to Leicester on Saturday afternoon.


The starting XI (above) against the Foxes on Saturday was set out in a shape favoured by Santo in pre-season. It contained six of the summer arrivals but no recognised striker. “We are fluid up front and hard to deal with. The shape worked well”, “Great passing, clever runs and not afraid to shoot.”


The side (above) which finished Saturday’s game kept the same shape but had more of last year’s familiar faces on show. “When the old guard came on in their Leicester game you could see the difference. It just felt more rushed, like they had less time on the ball and the passing range shrunk.”

Another Day, Another Mick Debate

“How can Ipswich challenge at all next season? It must be soul-destroying for them”, “Crazy as it sounds, I can see a possible relegation dogfight for them”, “Mick is restricted with funds at Ipswich so he begs, steals and borrows, and he has finished above us every season but the last one.”

Wolves picked up on Mick’s reported comments last week around the “outrageous” spending this summer by some Championship clubs. “I’m worried Mick is getting his excuses in before a ball has been kicked”, “He is only speaking his mind, as he has always done and is right about the spending.”

“The best manager we have had in 30 years”, “Mick was at his best finding unknown players at small prices who suited his style of play”, “He will always get an ovation from me when he’s back in town”, “We have played Ipswich seven times since he has been manager and we have failed to win once.”


There are a number of active Wolves message boards. One of the busiest and most knowledgeable is Molineux Mix.

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Photo: Action Images

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theblueginger added 11:57 - Aug 2
I hope the bubble bursts for clubs like Wolves.

iaintaylorx added 12:04 - Aug 2
No denying they have a very strong team, but I would love to see them fail with all that money they have thrown about!!

SailorBlue added 12:14 - Aug 2
My Wolves supporting cousin went to the pre-season friendly vs Leicester and was in awe "We don't need to spend any more, they were brilliant, never seen anything like that before at Wolves"... if they hit the ground running they could be ones to watch.....whether they can slug it out on a cold wet Tuesday night though will be interesting.

Umros added 14:04 - Aug 2
Agree with Sailorblue, coming from the warmer climates and tip tap football let's see how they fair on a cold wet winters day in Burton or Barnsley........ or the harsh reality of Tommy Smith clattering into the back of you alongside game in game out average unprotective refereeing, clubs may be in awe of the money spending but this has failed many times!!!!!

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 16:54 - Aug 2
The only good thing about this nouveau riche Wolves team is that there might be one less place around the top six for the Budgies.

mojo added 21:12 - Aug 2
Didn't know Ruddy went there. Did Lambert sign him before he was moved on?

HarryfromBath added 21:18 - Aug 2
mojo, the switch was announced on July 10th so it was under the new manager's watch. Nuno played as a keeper so - presumably - he knows what he is doing in that department.

Seasider added 14:52 - Aug 3
Just like Brentford,Wolves seem to bring in players from the Continent.

The difference with Wolves however is they are splashing the cash.Whereas Brentford
describe themselves as a small club;which I am afraid Ipswich have become,under the disastrous ownership of Evans,and three Managers he has chosen.

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