Josh Lemans looks at how Wolves have got on during their preseason tour in Austria.
So what have we learnt so far? Three games, many Nuno tactics and just a few pints later, I think it’s very important to look at the date Saturday 8th July 2017.
With the highly anticipated, record signing Ruben Neves being announced in a very dashing brand new black away kit, but to another signing made that day was the understated season-long loan of Wily Boly. Nuno made a personal phone call after reports in Portugal stating that Boly wasn’t particularly keen on the move to the championship to get his man.
This marked a very important day prior to the tour of Austria. It showed intent to the rest of the Championship. And the all round pulling power and influence Nuno Espírito Santo along with fellow agent Jorge Mendes. We meant business.
The tour of Austria started with a very smart business of ex-England keeper John Ruddy on a free transfer after his surprise release from Norwich, a solid pair of hands following the illness of Carl Ikeme.
With the announcement that the club would be showing the first pre-season friendly against Werder Bremen via an online stream, it was a great initiative to modernise the club and show fans across the world the game.
And after the Werder Bremen game there was general buzz. The 3-4-3 formation was being tested out. With a surprise selection of Connor Coady in the middle of a back 3 who was fantastic barking out orders. Douglas, Boly and Batth all playing the first 45 minutes, in a game which Wolves looked fantastic a very solid defensive shape.
Not one player looked out of place in the first half. Price was fantastic and a surprise inclusion in the team. Cavaleiro looked sharp, Saiss was up to old tricks spraying the ball all over the pitch and a special mention to Doherty who looked very solid.
Changes were made at half-time with Ruddy, Bennett, Miranda, Neves, Ronan, Dicko, Edwards and Simpson all making second half appearances, in which Dicko scored the winning goal. Yes a striker did score for Wolves.
It was a good finish by Dicko following a fantastic ball in behind from Doherty. Wolves again looked solid during the second half. After a few late scares with Junuzović, hitting the woodwork twice Wolves held on for a solid 1-0 win against a game Wolves of last season wouldn’t have won.
Wolves then moved onto Viktoria Plzen. A side who should by no means underestimated as they are a side who is looking to qualify for a champions league place.
Nuno’s men lined up again with a 3-4-3. But with Ruddy starting, Miranda, Bennett and Boly all lining up the make a new different back 3 to the first game. Doherty and Douglas kept the wing-back positions, Price and Edwards to make the holding 2 in the centre of the midfield and a front 3 of Cavaleiro, Dicko and a shock inclusion of Joe Mason.
Wolves were a lot slower to start but took a 16 minute lead through Nouha Dicko. All credit goes to Cavaleiro and Douglas for the fantastic link up play down the left side to give wolves the lead and then Wolves took a 2-0 lead through Doherty right on the 30 minute mark.
It was enjoyable to hear all the orders being barked to the 11 players but most notably Mason, who was always being barked and hounded into position on the wing which in truth just didn’t suit him and after this game it’s hard to where Mason would fit in the team.
Douglas, Boly, Doherty all looked superb and it’s just so refreshing to see the expansive football we are currently playing. Nouha Dicko really looks like the old Dicko, playing on the shoulder and chasing everything down.
Neves, Saiss, Bright, Ronan, Zyro, Batth, Coady, Simpson and new goalkeeper Will Norris all made 2nd half appearances. Wolves conceded a thunderbolt of volley at the back post off of a free-kick, the only fault I could pick on from the team was the poor marking. Nonetheless Wolves won 2-1 and played some fantastic football.
In Wolves final friendly against FK Jablonec truly emphasised the lack of depth Wolves haveup front and at fullback/ wing back. Bright looks too raw still and doesn’t have the presence to play in the focal point of attack and Zyro is still finding his feet back from injury.
Douglas has impressed on the left but Deslandes looked like a fish out of water and it’s no surprise Wolves have brought in young Portuguese left back Ruben Vinagre on loan from Monaco to give Douglas more competition.
It was slightly disappointing not to see Wolves complete a hat trick of wins on tour after their 1-0 defeat to Jablonec. But these fixtures have clearly helped the team put Nuno’s plans into practice.
Some of the football has been fantastic so far. The players look like they are starting to adapt to Nuno’s new 3-4-3 formation and the football has been a joy to watch. The signings look to be gelling, Dicko is scoring and all this without Costa is another positive.
But this is only pre-season and there is a long season ahead of us but with one or two more additions, especially up front, who knows what the season will hold?