Pre-season. Fitness tests, new tactics, academy players getting a run out and you don’t have the stress about the result.
It’s an odd time of the year for fans where you can go to a game and not reflect too much on what you have witnessed.
For Kenny Jackett and co however, it will be a chance to get the squad back into shape, try out new ideas and give some outcasts a second chance.
This summers pre-season could be a chance to try out and potentially answer some questions ahead of the new season.
So, in the style which is quite popular in the majority of content producing websites at the moment, here’s at list (six in particular) of things we need to see…
1. The enigma
The one that everyone almost forgot. Razak Boukari. He played mere minutes for Wolves yet this will be the start of his fourth season at the club.
Plagued by rare injuries, Razak needs all the luck in the world to stay fit. Following a loan spell to Sochaux two years ago, Boukari has suffered injuries again on the sidelines and it seemed a near impossibility that we would see the Frenchman in a Wolves shirt again.
Yet, Razak seems fit and ready to make his mark this. Kenny has already signaled that the winger may be given another chance to impress.
I’m repeating the words of my previous blog here but, did Wolves have their replacement for Bakary Sako all along? Rumours were that he was a better player than the Mali man when he signed in the summer of 2012.
To be in the same calibre and provide the same impact Sako did could be a huge burden for Razak to take. But let’s be honest., no-one is expecting this.
Could this be the summer of Boukari?
2. Another chance for Rowe and Saville
Two men hired last summer to bulk out Wolves growing midfield, neither, for different reasons, produced.
Both enjoyed some time off the bench in the early months of the 2014/15 season. Saville enjoyed a little run of games before suffering a poor performance and crucial miss in Wolves 5-0 drubbing away to Derby.
Out of favour, Saville moved onto Bristol City on loan. Despite Bristol’s title winning heroics, Saville played little part in their promotion push.
Rowe made a few appearances in the centre of the park before moving into a makeshift left back position whilst Kenny tinkered with the defence.
Then followed injury which would put him out for the season and out of the minds of Wolves fans.
Pre-season is now a chance for both players to re-stake their claim. Rowe’s main priority will be to get back to full match fitness. Savile will want to show Jackett what he can do.
He was one of Brentford’s stand out players in their League One promotion in 2014 and there must be something about him if he was once a Chelsea player.
A big summer ahead for both midfielders.
3. Away kit run out
This will be a guarantee. Probably with the first pre-season game against Burton Albion.
If not, you’re looking at Bristol City away at the start of November or a guarantee of an away day kit appearance in April next year v Hull City.
We all want to see the nice collar in action. Seeing Wolves in a bright blue however will be an odd sight. Not since the days of the light sky blue away kit have we seen the colour used. We all want to see what it looks like in action.
4. VLP on the scoresheet
The Dutchman can make the assist, the mazy runs and the step over’s to full any magician. But he couldn’t get on the score sheet.
If there is one thing Rajiv needs this summer, it’s goals. Put goals in his locker and you have a winger ready to take the Championship by storm. With goals galore from Bakary Sako last season, Wolves will miss the goal threat this man brings. If VLP can start racking up the goals, its game on.
Although Van La Parra can be played up front (or apparently according to Kenny Jackett), this pre-season schedule should be used to refine Rajiv’s shooting ability and transfer this into the in-game scenario.
Look at Leon Clarke last pre-season. 5 goals and people were talking about a starting place come Norwich.
Ok… perhaps that’s a bad example with hindsight but if Van La Parra can hit the ground running on goal this summer, we could see a whole new VLP stepping out onto the green at Molineux in August.
5. Our Hause, in the middle of defence
Everyone says the young England international is a centre back in the making. So, let’s see it.
Pre-season will give Jackett a chance to mix up his defensive line up and throw Kourtney in the deep end.
Kourtney Hause burst onto the Wolves scene in late 2014 following the team’s defensive blip. Along with fellow England Under 20 international Dominic Iorfa, Hause has been a revelation in the back line.
Kourtney can play at left back but where his talent will grow will be in the middle of defence.
Wolves need more back up centre backs. Pre-season is a chance for Hause to not only stake his claim ahead of Ethan Ebanks-Landell, but for a place in the starting line up.
6. Is there a gulf?
I for one were part of the few that was a bit underwhelmed when I saw that Aston Villa would be our marquee home pre-season game.
It felt like a classic ‘Premier League team taking pity on their Championship neighbours’ feel to it. A day out to see the big boys.
I love the random European ties. In recent years we’ve started to fill up La Liga at Molineux.
On reflection, Villa at home is a good tie. Wolves can test themselves against Premier League opposition. A standard that Wolves will need to be near to help push for promotion.
It will be early doors but this will be a good sign to see how big of a difference is there between Wolves and a Premier League side.
Being able to compete, winning headers first time and finding gaps, Wolves will be on the road.
However, lacking that extra yard in pace, late to the ball & closing down at the wrong time will show that Wolves still have a lot of work to do.
Again, this is a game which can easily be too early to provide any solid results. But, it will give fans an idea of where Wolves are in their development under Kenny Jackett.
Image via wolves.co.uk