Writer – DJWolves
Wolves round off their home league season on Saturday with a game against fellow promotion team from last season Fulham. And they will go into the game knowing that a win will go close to clinching 7th place in the Premier League and likely qualification for next season’s Europa League.
With a win on Saturday, their place in Europe will rest on the shoulders of Man City. The final Europa League place will go to Watford if they beat City in the FA Cup Final. But if City win that then the place will go to the team 7th in the league. And 3 points on Saturday will mean only one club can deprive Wolves of 7th and that is Leicester who would have to win their last two games, including away at City on Monday evening. It’s quite remarkable to be so close to Europe given that just two years ago Wolves won their last home game of the season against Preston through a first minute Danny Batth goal to clinch 15th in the Championship.
The resurgence of the club under the Chinese ownership of Fosun, and the management of Nuno has been a joy to watch. And on Saturday over 30,000 will be inside Molineux as has been the case in every home league game this season. The last time Wolves had a full league season of over 30,000 attendances was 1949/50.
The season experienced by Wolves and Fulham could hardly have been more different. While Wolves have been looking like a top half team all season, Fulham have constantly been looking over their shoulder as they faced a constant, and ultimately failed bid, to avoid relegation. And much of the seeds for that were set last summer. Wolves then secured the permanent signings of players that had done so well on loan last season and brought in a handful of players that have made a real difference in raising the standards in the first team. Players like Jimenez, Moutinho, Patricio, Jonny and Dendoncker have all been success stories, but at Fulham it was different. They brought in 15 players last summer at a total cost of over £100m. Not only did that disrupt a buoyant dressing room after promotion but it meant they spent most of the season searching for a settled team that could give them the results they needed. At Wolves, there has been only one significant change all season, and that was to change from 343 to 352 in the Autumn. A more gradual change would surely have served Fulham better.
Such has been the quality in the all round Wolves team performances that most of the first team squad could represent a reasonable vote for Player of the Season. Certainly nobody could be criticised for voting for Doherty, Coady, Boly, Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Jimenez or Jota. All have had excellent seasons and it seems picky to exclude Bennett, Dendoncker, Patricio from that list. I suspect the favourite for the choice will be Moutinho who has been remarkably consistent and has left everyone scratching their heads as to how Wolves managed to sign a player of such quality for £5m. My personal choice would however be Jimenez who has developed into a centre forward of the highest quality. He has got his share of goals and assists and his all round game has been excellent.
It is amazing to look back at Moutinho’s career that spans 15 seasons with spells at Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Monaco before joining Wolves. During that career he has played over 650 games for his clubs and has amassed 113 caps for Portugal. That’s an average of over 50 games a season and shows the consistency and fitness he has held throughout his career.
But now sadly there’s just one more Molineux full house to experience before the summer break and the wish that they can end on a high against a Fulham team that have belatedly come to life under Scott Parker’s management with three successive wins and three clean sheets. As ever in the Premier League, its no easy game, but one more top performance could see us return to Molineux in July to watch European football.