Where should Wolves strengthen this summer?
by Matt Cooper
It seems so long ago since the season petered out. Having recorded the Talking Wolves podcast yesterday, I was struggling to recite what had happened in the previous month's fixtures. Isn’t it strange that we can forget details of Wolves’ most successful season in recent time over the period of a few weeks? It’s amazing how we haven’t rested on our laurels, so you can imagine Fosun will be doing just the same, already mapping out the season and where Wolves need to strengthen.
It’s always a popular topic with fans. It’s one that turns even the most ‘middle of the road’ fan into a vocal, opinionated supporter. Some won’t want to see any of the current playing squad go and some will want wholesale changes with no evidence of sentiment being shown. I thought I’d put my twenty pence in and assess where Wolves should be strengthening in this window.
This one is a tough one. We’ve undoubtedly got one of the best goalkeepers in the league on his day - not to mention he’s won the Euros too. Patricio has kept us in many a game this season and has also stopped some score lines becoming embarrassing. His kicking has been dreadful in parts but the introduction of Dendoncker on the right side of the midfield has meant Patricio has more of an area to aim at. Surprisingly, the Portuguese stopper has completed 42% of long passes this season, putting him 9th in the league. Ruddy has been largely disappointing when called upon. Two errors against Shrewsbury nearly cost Wolves but it’s hard to keep sharp when you are in and out of the team - especially at his age. His leadership qualities are of course pivotal to this squad of players. Then we have Norris, a steady goalkeeper who is surely at a crossroads at his career. He won’t be getting any game time at Molineux so perhaps it’s time to move on. I’d allow either Ruddy or Norris to leave and allow promising Danish keeper Andreas Söndergaard to make the step up to 3rd choice. There’s no need to bring in another external keeper in the first team fold.
That back 3/5 has been near faultless all season. I’ve been critical of the likes of Coady, Doherty and Bennett at some stages in the season and maybe wrongly so. Having had a really good chat with Coady recently too, he captured my heart with his personable attitude and enthusiasm which I can only imagine is infectious in that dressing room. However, it still worries me that there is nobody else who plays his position and we’d be screwed if he ever picked up a long term injury. Cover is needed for sure but I don’t feel Coady shouldn’t be replaced - not next season anyway.
We do need another RCB. Bennett has been brilliant but we need to aim higher. This isn’t a time for sentiment and we need someone who’s a little bit more comfortable in playing out from the back. Bennett would be terrific cover though and we know if he needed to slot in, he could be called upon. There are no current transfer rumours surrounding centre backs though, which could suggest Nuno is happy with Bennett. Hause looks to be off too, along with Miranda so a CB is vital.
Another position we need cover and potential replacements in are the full-back positions. Now is the time to sell Matt Doherty if the price is right. If somebody came in and tabled a bid of around the £20-25 million mark then I’d be accepting. He’s been outstanding in parts and his goals and assists back that up but I feel he may have hit his ceiling. Regardless of whether Doc goes, I think Wolves should look to bring in another RWB with the influx in games next season. It’s hard to remember that LWB isn’t Jonny’s natural side either - who’s performances have gone under the radar this season. It would be interesting to see if he could replicate Doc’s goal and assists from his favoured side. Next season we’ll be seeing a lot more of Vinagre too, which excites me quite a bit.
That midfield 3 are untouchable for me. The introduction of Dendoncker has completely changed the dynamic of how we play. We now look so much more assured but if injuries do hit then we’d all be concerned. I think Saiss will be let go in the summer, leaving only MGW as cover, so it's important we bring in another central midfielder. Someone a little more combative, who can drive from deep and get us up the pitch. Similar to the Doucouré/Capoue mould at Watford. A little more athleticism in that midfield could see us make that next step in our journey. If Morgan goes out on loan (which I doubt he will with Europe on the horizon) then maybe Wolves should look to bring in two central midfielders. Maybe someone who’s a little more natural pushed further forward.
This is the one for me that is most interesting. Wolves have switched from a 3 to a 2 so it’s paramount they bring in another striker with only two quality forwards at the club. I’ve been flying the flag for Rondon, I think he’d slot right in and is exactly what we need - a different option. What Wolves do with Cav and Costa is interesting. Both have pretty much been deemed surplus to requirements, with the change in the system not helping but I can see Nuno changing back to a 3 in times of need next season. So do Wolves sell the pair and replace them or bring in an extra striker? It’s a tricky one but I can’t see both of them being at Wolves come the start of next season and rightly so. Costa has had his chance this season and has failed to impress - he looks a different player from the one who singlehandedly kept Wolves up in the 16/17 season.
I’m reserving judgment on Adama until he’s had a full pre-season at the club under his belt - which I’m sure will frustrate large proportions of our fanbase. 3 quality strikers and some reliance on the U23’s would do.
Leave your thoughts down below!
Matt Cooper is a Talking Wolves founder, you can follow him here.
Images: Nigel French/PA