By Ollie Lewis
Wolves ended their Chinese adventure with silverware as Nuno’s side defeated Premier League champions Manchester City to lift the Premier League Asia Trophy in Shanghai.
In testing conditions Wolves stood firm to keep out City’s plethora of attacking stars to take the tie to a penalty shootout, which saw the Old Gold defeat City 3-2 after a fine display from Rui Patricio.
Here are a few talking points from Wolves’ fine victory.
Rui the Brave
If you’re going to keep this City team from scoring, you’re going to need your keeper to have a blinder of a game. Rui Patricio duly stepped up to keep Pep’s side at bay.
The Portuguese number one spent part of last season on the receiving end of criticism for his suspect distribution, but one aspect of his game that is widely appreciated by all Wolves fans is his shot stopping ability, which was showcased in Saturday’s game.
Patricio took a knock to the head in the opening 20 mins after a collision with England forward Raheem Sterling, but battled on to be the penalty shootout hero with three fine saves from Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and Lukas Nmecha to win it for Wolves.
The kids can mix it with the big boys
As the game developed and Wolves stood firm against City’s awe-inspiring attacking power, there was a growing sense that, with the introduction of the youngsters, the Premier League champions would finally unlock Wolves’ defence and put an end to the contest.
However, the kids certainly pulled their weight. Nuno has for some time reiterated his desire for his style of play to be implemented from top to bottom at the club, and the likes of Dion Sanderson, Taylor Perry and Niall Ennis certainly slotted into the team and didn’t look out of place.
Their performances were a testament to the hard work being put in at Compton to ensure every player is singing from the same hymn sheet.
Breeding a winning mentality
Saturday’s victory marked Nuno’s third piece of silverware since taking over at Molineux two summers ago.
Yes, admittedly two of those trophies were not competitive, yet there’s a lot to be said for the way Wolves have approached the games in the Premier League Asia Trophy and the Uhrencup.
It has firstly got Wolves’ fitness levels up to the required standards, but more pertinently it has allowed Nuno to establish a winning mentality among his charges.
Couple this with the success of the Portuguese boys in the UEFA Nations League, as well as Raul Jimenez in the Gold Cup with Mexico, and it’s clear to see the benefits that winning breeds.
Shining in Shanghai
Lifting the Premier League Asia Trophy brought a fine end to a greatly successful week for the club both on and off the pitch.
Superstore openings, high-end fashion shows and beer flavoured ice cream were all examples of the strides Wolves are taking to build their brand in the far east.
There is certainly no shortage of ambition on the part of Fosun, who have always targeted their home country as a destination to grow the club into a challenger of the League’s top six clubs.
Regardless of Saturday’s result, Wolves’ top brass will reflect on a hugely rewarding week that has shown fans and onlookers the ambition of the Fosun project.