Last but by no means least in Touchline Views season previews is that of Mick McCarthy’s Wolves side who managed to survive the drop last season – finishing 8 points above the relegation zone. It was a welcome return to the Premier League which saw the club reach its highest league position in 30 years by finishing in 15th place. Last season also marked the first time that Wolves have survived at the highest level since 1981. However, many are already predicting that Wolves could be this seasons Hull – surviving the Premier League one year only to drop back out the next.
Since retaining their safety in the top flight, McCarthy has already begun to build for the season ahead with no less than four new signings – making Wolves the second biggest spenders in the league – behind the riches of Manchester City. Joining the club are Belgian defender Jelle van Damme, striker Steven Fletcher on a joint club record fee of £6.5million to boost their attacking options, while also signing for Wolves is Hull duo Stephen Hunt and Steven Mouyokolo all of which are very shrewd purchases on behalf of the former Ireland manager.
A huge achilles heel of Wolves last season was simply putting the ball in the back of their opponents net. They were the lowest goalscorers over the course of the entire season scoring just 32 goals in 38 games – ten of them coming from the then record purchase – Kevin Doyle. Luckily, their defence was far more solid than the teams around them in the league table just conceding 56 goals. They will need to keep the latter as low as possibly this season while trying to score more frequently.
Last season wasn’t exactly a great season for Wolves, however; ultimately, they managed to do what was expected of them and maintain their position in the Premier League. Now the hard part, consolidating that position and avoid the so-called second season syndrome that has plagued so many teams in the past. Chairman Steve Morgan seems intent on them maintaining their position in the league, so much so, that he wants to increase the capacity of the Molineux to 38,000 by pumping £40million into the redevelopment plan.
The big problem for Wolves is “glass ceiling” – reaching a very solid 15th place last season means that it is going to be difficult for them to improve on that. Therefore, as I mentioned previously the most prominent aim of the season ahead will be to consolidate their position in the Premier League with a view to drive forward in a seasons time. It will be interesting to see how McCarthy lines his side up throughout the season because he worked with a 4-5-1 formation last season playing Kevin Doyle as the lone-striker. With the acquisition of Steven Fletcher will he return to a more conventional 4-4-2 formation?
And finally, in the final blog, we come down to the final teams prospects for the season ahead. As stated in the post, this season will be one of consolidation for Wolves. McCarthy has made sensible buys, of players with previous Premier League experience. Will consolidate or capitulate? Well, it is particularly hard to say because either is possible for a club like Wolves. Having said that, it would be rather surprising if the dropped out of the top flight.