By Ollie Lewis
Wolves got their pre-season campaign off to a flyer with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Newcastle United in testing conditions out in China.
With just a short eight days until Wolves host either B36 or Crusaders in the Europa League, what have we learnt from Nuno Espirito Santo’s side’s first outing?
Whole Jota Love
Diogo Jota has had some 2019 so far.
A tweak in formation by Nuno culminated in a change in fortunes for the Portuguese forward, who ended the 2018/19 season with nine Premier League goals and a call up to the full international squad for their triumphant UEFA Nations League campaign.
Everyone at Wolves will be hoping this upcoming season will be one defined as Jota’s breakthrough moment.
Wolves fans have known for some time the talent that the diminutive forward possesses, and he displayed it at the Nanjing Stadium.
Two finely taken goals, the first after good build up play with Jonny and the second after tenacious work to recover the ball from Isaac Hayden in the Newcastle area, means Jota has got his pre-season off to the perfect start.
Here’s hoping the 22-year-old bears a fruitful season for Nuno’s side.
The Adama Traore experiment continues
With the news that first choice right wingback Matt Doherty faces time on the side line with a knee injury, Nuno continued with Operation Adama: Turning football’s fastest man into a disciplined wingback.
In what appeared a very quiet atmosphere, Traore’sadventurous runs managed to get the Chinese fans off their feet.
In all, Adama put in a solid performance, with hints of the talent he possesses.
It’s no secret where the dynamic Spaniard needs to improve – his first touch tends to be inconsistent, and he can often let the game pass him by.
In the meantime, Nuno may have to stick with Traore at right wingback for Wolves’ Europa League opener next week.
?This season could well be the fast man’s last chance to impress, with the departures of Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiroproving that Nuno can make ruthless decisions.
Gibbs-White gets the goods
Morgan Gibbs White has been in and around the first team for some time now, with many earmarking the Stafford-born youngster as a future England international.
The 19-year-old is characterised by his creativity and panache on the ball, with quick feet and an ability to play clever passes.
However, goals have long been missing from Gibbs-White’s game, having failed to find the net in a competitive fixture since his debut back in 2016.
Deployed in one of the forward positions owing to Raul Jimenez’s absence, Gibbs White got off the mark with a magnificent effort low into the bottom corner from the edge of the box after Wolves won the ball high up the field via Leander Dendoncker and Jonny.
The youngster’s strike was certainly not one of a player who has been goal shy, and hopefully is a sign of things to come for the England u21 star.
The starters are alright
There has been a growing sense of nervousness as the transfer window has developed this summer.
The aforementioned departures of Costa and Cavaleiro and the notable absence of any incomings has led to concerns among fans that the squad is ill-prepared for what will be a long and testing campaign with the Europa League adventure to come.
Today’s performance has however firmly stated that Wolves certainly have the quality to compete.
Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker looked assured in midfield owing to the chemistry they have developed since Nuno’s change to the system.
While Boly’s towering presence at the back is a comforting sight for those affiliated with the gold and black.
Wolves used the fewest amount of players of any Premier League team last season and of course it would be foolish to suggest that they will be alright with a bare starting 11, but with the additions that are expected to come before the start of the season, Nuno will feel positive that his side have enough to start.