Wolves may have tailed off a little at the end of the domestic season, but they’re genuine contenders for the Europa League…
It feels like most people are limbering up for a big name Europa League final of Manchester United v Inter.
And sure, that would be an absolute banger, but how about this: Wolves.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team arrived in the Premier League two years ago, immediately looked impressive and haven’t stopped being so since. So why not them to go all the way in Europe, in a competition they got to the final of way back in 1972?
“When these guys walk onto the field they genuinely believe they can beat anybody,” said The Athletic’s Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers on The Totally Football Show this week.
“They’re fearless. They have beaten everybody in England over the past couple of years: they beat (an albeit weakened) Liverpool in the FA Cup, they beat Manchester City a couple of times, they beat Spurs a couple of times, they beat Arsenal and Manchester United.
“They can do it on their day. They’ve got the star power up front – Traore, Jota, Jimenez – to trouble any team. And they’ve got a very, very good defence. So sure, why not?”
Their energy and fitness could be a concern for the remainder of this competition, given their 2019/20 season began on July 25 last year, and they weren’t one of the teams that seemed to benefit from the lockdown break.
“They finished seventh. Which everybody would have taken at the start of the season, but they did slip away a bit in the final weeks of the Premier League campaign. They only won two of their last six, I think they were seven points ahead of Tottenham at one point but they ended up finishing behind them.
“With Arsenal winning the FA Cup Wolves are not in Europe next season as it stands, so it was a bit of a disappointment really, after three years of incredible highs, it’s a rare blip to finish seventh. Which sounds silly really when you’re talking about Wolves, but these are the standards they’ve set.
“They look tired, and I don’t blame them really because they’ve played 57 matches already this season, they’ve had this great run in the Europa League in which they’ve gone all over the place – they’ve totted up 20,000 miles in the air, and they’ve done it all with the smallest squad in the league.”
Whatever happens, it doesn’t sound like the rumours surrounding Raul Jimenez – linked with a move to Manchester United – have much too them, according to Tim.
“There’s general befuddlement in the corridors of Molineux about this white noise in the Twittersphere about Raul Jimenez.
“His links to Manchester United seem very far-fetched to me. I’ve tried to stand them up but I can’t find any substance to them. It would be a strange move for United to spend £60-70million on a 29-year-old striker when they’re after Jadon Sancho and maybe Grealish, when they’ve already got a fantastic forward line.
“If an offer came in that Wolves would accept from a club like Juventus, who have been linked with him, then of course he’d go, but otherwise he’s very happy. He painted a picture of a wolf hound on his pregnant partner’s belly a few weeks ago: you don’t do that if you’re itching for a move. I know it’s not as black and white as that, but he is happy at Wolves.”
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