How will Wolves and their Portuguese contingent fare in the Premier League?
Wolves ended up blowing away their opposition as they stormed to the Championship title last season, finishing on 99 points and securing promotion with four games to spare. But the Premier League will no doubt offer an entirely different test. So what can we expect from the Wanderers - and their talented, continually evolving Portuguese contingent - as they embark on the next chapter in this exciting footballing adventure?
Wolves were simply unstoppable last season; grabbing top spot on the 31st October and refusing to relinquish their grip on the title for the rest of the campaign, the club were never really in danger of failing to gain promotion, and were doubtless head and shoulders above the chasing pack.
A rise into the Premier League was, in hindsight, nothing short of a foregone conclusion for the last few months of the season, such was the quality they had at their disposal. But the tight-knit group, led by their highly popular Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, kept focused and well-grounded throughout, constantly following the great philosophy of taking it game by game, refusing to get complacent and look beyond the very next fixture on the calendar.
Memorable victories - and memorable goals - gave fans a season they will remember for years to come, as well as great optimism going forward, and their talented Portuguese core no doubt played their part in helping the club regain a spot in England's top flight for the first time since 2012.
But with the number of highly-esteemed Portuguese players present in their ranks constantly increasing, as shown by the incredible acquisition of Portuguese international João Moutinho, what can we anticipate from them in their inaugural season back in the top flight? And what should be their aim to kick-start their return?
A humble, popular, philosophical manager
The first cause of optimism for Wolves fans new and old across the globe is found in their popular Portuguese coach Nuno, who has instilled a confidence and team spirit in his side that lays the perfect foundations for a highly successful season. His philosophical, measured approach to every game is testament to his experience and mentality, and it's no wonder he's built an incredible relationship with the fans, always ensuring they are the centre of any success the club manage to achieve.
“I hope I can help build a new future here… I hope I can bring the good days back.” Even some of the first words Nuno uttered at the famous Molineux club were nothing short of inspiring and contributed to painting the vivid and ambitious vision Nuno, like those above him, had for Wolverhampton Wanderers, the sleeping giants awaiting a breath of fresh air to return not only to the top flight, but the top end of English and European football.
And Nuno embraced, and indeed revelled in, the challenge he and his staff faced, and was determined to put in place the foundations of a lasting legacy. He could see a blank canvas, an opportunity to create and build something special and put his own everlasting stamp on.
Such an opportunity does not arise very often, and Nuno was adamant he would be the man to orchestrate the club’s future. His three year contract, encapsulated with his willingness to reject reputable and established Champions League sides in favour of taking on this challenge, only further emphasised his desire to take Wolves back to the big time. Nuno wanted to begin the revival of Wolves and its return to the golden years, and bought into the project with boundless energy and enthusiasm.
With him at the helm, there will be room for neither complacency nor panic, meaning that whatever situation Wolves find themselves in - whether it's underachieving or overachieving, Nuno will manage the situation and ensure the side stay on the right path.
A strong backline to take them through
While there have been a few concerns regarding Wolves' defence in recent games, with Romain Saiss utilised at the back during pre-season, Wolves can generally take great confidence into the new season due to their proven resilience defensively, capable of helping them see out matches in precarious positions.
Indeed, since ex-Porto coach Nuno took over at the club, Wolves have become something of a formidable force in the defensive department, keeping an incredible 24 clean sheets last season on the road to promotion, a defensive record few clubs across the entirety of Europe were able to rival.
They were also able to see out just a single goal victory in 14 of their 30 league wins in the previous campaign, no doubt in part down to the heroics of ex-Porto centreback Willy Boly, who proved an instrumental figure in the heart of Wolves' defence as they cruised into the Premier League.
Indeed Wolves, who this summer managed to recruit Boly on a permanent basis after their rise to England's top division, have an exceptional defender on their hands, who should prove an outstanding signing as the club seek Premier League safety on their return to the top flight.
Portuguese talent all over the park
And, while Wolves' defence has only gotten stronger with the jaw-dropping signing of Portugal's number one goalkeeper Rui Patricio last month, they are far from a one-trick pony reliant on their defending to grind out results. Indeed, with high-profile players in every position, Wolves have an incredible core to their team, and with the likes of Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota and Helder Costa in the side, in addition to their new recruits, Wolves should not be having any trouble staying in the Premier League in the years to come.
With talent all over the park, Wolves have built an incredible spine to their team from back to front, and their incredible team spirit, embodying the philosophy of Nuno Espirito Santo - who has created a sense of unity between the players and with the fans - is one that many clubs could only dream of. All over the pitch, the signs are very promising indeed.
A central midfield to rival all
No one position illustrates Wolves' newfound strength better than the centre of midfield after the recent, and undoubtedly breathtaking, signing of João Moutinho was completed. Having witnessed Ruben Neves dismantle the Championship last season with his deft touches, delicate passes and exquisite shooting ability, Wolves fans have already been treated to a truly glorious technician and have experienced what it's like to have one of Europe's most exciting prospects in their ranks.
But yet now, to partner the 21-years old fan favourite, Wolves have somehow managed to obtain an equally hard-working, determined, technical player, who is also seemingly capable of spraying passes around the field with the greatest of ease. Indeed, Moutinho really offers all the outstanding qualities Ruben Neves has shown over the past season for Wolves, but has simply proven himself at an even higher level over a sustained period of time, arriving at Molineux with a wealth of experience having played the game for a decade longer than his compatriot in midfield.
With the youthful Ruben Neves embedded in midfield alongside the experienced Moutinho, there are literally very few central midfield partnerships in the entire Premier League that will rival that of Wolves, with the Wolves pairing now nothing short of Champions League quality. The technical ability in central midfield is astonishing, and observing Wolves this season will no doubt be a treat for anyone priviledged enough to watch them first-hand.
Flair and ability in attacking areas
Diogo Jota, Helder Costa, Ivan Cavaleiro - an incredible Portuguese trio that have served the club admirably in the short period of time they've spent at the club. After playing their part in Wolves' promotion success, they've earned this opportunity to show what they can do in the Premier League. With these three, as well as ex-Estoril striker Leo Bonatini and Benfica loanee Raul Jimenez, Wolves have an embarrassment of riches in the attacking department.
While there have been calls for the need for an additional striker to be brought in from Wolves fans across the country, Wolves' attacking front is already looking very strong, and should stand them in good stead as they look to realise their ambitions in the Premier League upon their return.