Ever since signing on the dotted line back in May 2017, Nuno Espirito Santo has been a beacon of light and joy for Wolverhampton Wanderers fans. While the financial backing they’ve received from their owners has obviously helped them along, Nuno has been the one guiding them forward from the Championship into the Premier League.
The first two seasons back in the big time were pretty magical as Wolves finished in seventh place twice, reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League and even got to Wembley. Sure, that Wembley day was ruined by a dramatic Watford comeback in their FA Cup semi-final, but these were still days that most Wolves fans could only have dreamt of a few years prior.
Everything was going to plan – until, this season, when it wasn’t.
When you take one look at the league table and see Wolves in 12th place, many feel as if that’s not a bad position to be in. Unfortunately there’s far more to the story than that.
Nuno opted to stick with a relatively small squad in the name of keeping a tight system and bizarrely, that worked quite well – even during the busy Europa League campaign. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and this season exposed Nuno’s decision as being pretty shortsighted.
From the defenders to the midfielders and beyond, Wolves’ squad has needed some kind of reform for a while now. But instead of pouring money into the areas that need work, Nuno stuck with the status quo and appeared to be regressing with his tactics.
This side has the likes of Traore, Podence and Neto at their disposal but instead of being invited to charge forward, the whole system feels static and stale with nobody being able to really get going.
Many are going to blame the horrible injury to Raul Jimenez as a reason behind all of this but that doesn’t come across as genuine. Sure, losing such a valuable player is always going to hurt, but it shouldn’t derail a team this badly.
Tottenham fans were even questioning whether or not Nuno should be seen as an option to replace Jose Mourinho and that just feels like a really strange idea. Why would you want to go from one defensive, stubborn Portuguese boss to another? It doesn’t make any sense.
Nuno has always had a decent relationship with the fans so maybe things are going to change when they can flock back to Molineux. At the same time, that can’t be seen as the one and only excuse, as is the case with Raul.
This issue goes deep into what Nuno believes as a manager and what he’s capable of achieving. Wolves currently have a team that can go really far in the Premier League and potentially even in Europe, but not with him.
If they aren’t careful they’ll lose some of their top names and in the blink of an eye, they’ll be stuck in a relegation battle next season that won’t be easy to get out of.