Wolverhampton Wanderers are set to enter their fifth consecutive season back in the Premier League and if you’d have offered that to fans upon them first going back up, they would’ve snapped your hand off.
If you went on to tell them that the club finished 7th, 7th, 13th and 10th in the prior four campaigns, which included a run to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, you’d have to imagine they would’ve been even more pumped up.
So then, why is there a feeling of dread and slight negativity around the club heading into the return of domestic football next weekend?
There are plenty of reasons, really, and they all tend to stem back to the idea that the club hasn’t been able to fully take advantage of their new owners’ backing as well as their revived status as one of the top clubs outside of the top six.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s departure was cited as a big negative for Wolves but, given how things were trending with his leadership and his lack of ambition, we’d say that was actually the right move – and bringing in Bruno Lage was equally as astute.
The problem is that the board, aka Fosun, doesn’t appear to be willing to give Lage the kind of financial assistance he needs to make real change within the squad and their overall fortunes in the Premier League and beyond.
They see the club as more of a business than anything else and as the Leeds opener approaches, we can kind of understand why there’s a sense of trepidation in the air.
Vinagre, Saiss, Marcal, Ruddy, Fabio Silva, Hoever and Trincao have all left the club either on a permanent basis or on loan, and while the introduction of Nathan Collins from Burnley has been nice to see, Wolves seem to be back to square one where squad depth is concerned.
It’s especially bad up top now that Fabio has left as Raul Jimenez has gone down with an injury that could keep him out for up to eight weeks. When you look at the options they have available, there aren’t really many to pick out and get excited over.
It’s a real double-edged sword for some supporters who want to enjoy and bask in the glory of how far they’ve come from the days of League One, but that just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
There’s supposed to be a real level of ambition behind this project with the end goal, potentially, being to get Wolves back into Europe – and maybe beyond the Europa to the actual Champions League.
There’s also the ongoing dispute over the future of both Ruben Neves and Adama Traore.
For the time being they appear to be pretty happy with staying on, but it does feel a little bit reluctant.
There just isn’t a whole lot of movement and if it carries on down this path, we wonder how much longer it’ll be before they’re dragged into a relegation battle that could’ve easily been avoided.