Wolves have been installed as third favourites to lift the Championship title come May, just behind Bolton and Leicester, but with relegation still playing on the minds of many and a host of top players handing in transfer requests within the last few weeks, is there really much for Wolves fans to cheer about?
The 5-1 drumming by West Brom saw the sacking of Mick McCarthy and the demise of a team that were passed on to their assistant manager. No fresh ideas were brought in and Terry Connor appeared to play the same tactics that led to McCarthy ultimately receiving his marching orders.
Wolves owner Steve Morgan decided that a new approach was needed and that saw the appointment of Stale Solbakken – a no-nonsense speaking manager, originally from Norway, on July 1st.
A much needed sense of optimism was brought back to Wolves and fans generally seemed excited at the new direction of the Midlands club, a new manager with new ideas and a new assistant manager.
Norwegian prodigy Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdason was quickly brought in after being described as ‘the next Ibrahmiovic’ and the buzz of the new season found its way back to Molineux. Three more faces, in the form of Tongo Doumbia, Frank Nouble and Slawomir Peszko have been added and the pre-season friendly against Shrewsbury saw fans doing ‘The Tongo,’ after the Mali international scored on his debut.
But the optimism was short lived when star striker Steven Fletcher handed in a transfer request after a bid of £10 million was tabled by Premier League side Sunderland. This split many fans as some believe the best players should be kept but when a player doesn’t want to stay and hands in a transfer request, then why should he be kept?
With Michael Kightly in the last year of his contract he was sold to rivals Stoke City for a rumoured fee of around £2 million, which tore the Molineux faithful once again. A player who had been plagued by injury during Wolves’ Premier League stint and who finally started to repay some of the faith shown in him whilst he was injured.
Former Wolves player of the year Matt Jarvis has also handed in a transfer request, with Stoke, Fulham and West Ham interested in the former Gillingham player. If a bid was accepted and Jarvis was to move along with Fletcher then that would mean two of Wolves most prominent players of the last season had been sold. What was there to look forward to?
Saturday’s Capital One game at home to Aldershot may have seen insignificant to many but it was the start of a new era for Wolves. The 7,700 capacity Stan Cullis saw its grand opening and the home debut of Tongo Doumbia, which would have pleased many. His passing vision showed that he seems like the type of player who is able to control a game; something Wolves have missed.
Jarvis and Fletcher both missed out, which gave academy graduates David Davis and Anthony Forde their opportunity to impress the new boss. Both players played their part in the game and will not have done their chances of securing a regular first team spot any harm.
The surprise of the game was the form of Roger Johnson, who had been a scapegoat for many of Wolves’ games last season but if he continues to play with the passion he showed in the game against Aldershot then it will be like a new signing.
The problem with Wolves last year was their defence and should Solbakken manage to achieve his goal of acquiring one, then surely the Norwegian’s side can look forward to a promising season. That with the apparent resurgence of Johnson and new signings of Doumbia and Sigurdason should help them easily achieve a top 6 finish. All is not as bad as first feared for Wolves.
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