Very few would have expected Wolves to get relegated when Nuno Santo helped the side climb back into the Premier League last summer. There were teams in there who were much worse than the men from Wolverhampton and Santo’s men were seen as possible upper mid-table candidates, along with Everton, Leicester and Bournemouth.
Where they are currently is certainly a work of excellent management from Santo, who on his day has proved to be a real tactician of the game. The club has given big troubles to all the top six sides in the league and is now guaranteed to finish seventh.
But many find it easy to forget how much Wolves spend and how much they have spent to reach here. In the summer of 2018, they spent as much as 101 million pounds on players, bringing in Willy Boly, Adama Traore, Diogo Jota, Joao Moutinho and the likes. A lot of the signings are incredible examples of very smart business, no doubt at all.
In the summer of 2017, Wolves had spent 22 million pounds too, bringing in Ruben Neves when no one expected him to play in the Championship.
When a squad spends that much money on transfers, it is expected to do well. Again, it isn’t a case of doubting how good a manager Nuno is and how well he has done to take the side up a level in the Premier League, but they must be where they are. They have spent and worked in accordance to that.
There are two teams in that bracket who have somewhat done a lot of it without spending over 100 million pounds.
One is Bournemouth. Eddie Howe’s men may not be having as good a campaign as two seasons ago, but the job the club has done to establish itself as a Premier League regular is very remarkable. Howe helped the Cherries finish as high as ninth two seasons ago.
They had spent 40 million pounds that season, but not even one of those signings has worked out. They had to make do with a team that won the Championship in 2015- a squad full of hard-working players strung together by the abilities of Howe.
Watford too, deserve more praise. The Hornets have become a very tough to beat side under Javi Gracia. They spent 27 million pounds last summer and have fit the bought players into Gracia’s style- Gerard Deulofeu, Ben Foster and Adam Masina.
This season, they gave Wolves a run for their money towards the very end. Wolves’ inability to beat the smaller sides cost them a lot of times, but their tendency to play a counter-attacking style in the big games helped them a lot.
Its not to say that Wolves don’t deserve credit at all. They do- their project with the help of Jorge Mendes is something impressive. But many other teams have done so much with lesser resources than them.
The way Nuno has made signings that he wanted has been very shrewd and he is undoubtedly one of the best managers in England right now. But Wolves, they take the attention away from many other projects that are being accomplished by fewer resources.