As the season starts to draw to an end, Ryan Plant looks back at Wolves signings and whether, once again, Wolves have got their transfer policy right.
Think back to the summer of 2012. Wolves had just been relegated, and key players such as Matt Jarvis, Michael Kightly and Steven Fletcher had moved on to pastures new. They needed replacing, and replaced they were.
They were replaced by, compared to our business over the last two seasons, big money signings. All of which, except from Frank Nouble (who you’ve probably forgotten about) came from abroad. Specifically, Bakary Sako, Tongo Doumbia and Razak Boukari arrived from France, whilst Bjorn Sigurdarson and Georg Margreitter arrived from Scandinavia. In total, around £6.5 million was spent.
A large, bold outlay. After a season that ended in relegation, you could argue that Bakary Sako has been the only real success of this group.
Fast-forward to 2013, and Kenny Jackett is the new man at the helm. It was then that Wolves seemed to realise the value of a young, energetic, wholly home-grown squad. This was evident in the signings that the club made – talented players such as Kevin McDonald and Scott Golbourne were joined by the experienced face of Sam Ricketts.
All three signings were massively successful throughout the entire 2013-14 title-winning season, whilst being complimented by the mid-season additions of Nouha Dicko, Michael Jacobs, James Henry and Leon Clarke.
As promotion was achieved, it was important that Wolves kept up the good work. New signings had to be made, mainly to add strength in depth to nearly all areas of the field. The first two new players, both free signings, came on the first day of the summer transfer window of 2014.
The extremely versatile Tommy Rowe joined from Peterborough, which for fans was extremely exciting after watching him light up the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at Wembley only a few months before. Rowe has been limited to appearances and It is a crying shame that injury has prevented Rowe from playing more.
Rajiv van La Parra, an electric, athletic and skilful winger soon followed. The Dutchman has had a positive impact on the club, making 34 appearances thus far. His man of the match performance in front of the Sky cameras on his debut against Norwich back in August really excited the Wolves faithful.
George Saville was the only other summer transfer window signing for Wolves. He arrived from Chelsea, after a promotion winning loan campaign at Brentford the season before, and he was reunited with Kenny Jackett, who gave him his first ever senior appearance during a loan spell at Millwall. After arriving on the back of success at Brentford, most Wolves fans would agree that Saville was extremely disappointing during his seven league appearances in the Championship.
Jackett may have felt the same, because on 15th January, he was loaned to League One-topping Bristol City, on a three month loan. Only time will tell as to whether George Saville will ever hold down a starting place at Molineux.
UEFA Champions League winner. Four time Barclays Premier League winner. One Club World Cup. The list just goes on and on. Maybe Tomasz Kuszczak was an understudy to the great Edwin van der Sar for all of these achievements, but as sub goalkeepers go, not bad at all in my opinion.
Kuszczak has found himself between the sticks for Wolves ten times this season thanks to an injury to Carl Ikeme, and in the eyes of some Wolves fans, he has been solid and dependable. Kuszazck has pulled off some incredible saves in goal, most recently in the 3-0 home win against Sheffield Wednesday.
Now to the two most recent signings. Jordan Graham arrived right at the start of January, and not only is he a superb, young winger on Football Manager, but he is a real prospect for the future.
It is true that Wolves are not short in the wide midfielder department at the moment, but after seeing the likes of Kourtney Hause and Dominic Iorfa make their senior debuts this season, I doubt it wont be long before Graham follows suit – particularly if Bakary Sako finds himself leaving Molineux on a free transfer this summer.
But, in my opinion the most successful signing of the season so far, Benik Afobe has really added a true clinical nature to the Wolves front line.
Signed from Arsenal, his move to Wolves cut-short a very positive loan spell at MK Dons, where he scored ten goals in the first half of the season, including two against the mighty David De Gea in MK Dons four goal demolition against Manchester United.
Afobe seems to have added a new dimension to the Wolves attack, his pairing with Nouha Dicko has real presence and power, Afobe has scored eight goals so far since he signed, including a delicious volley against Sheffield Wednesday last night.
In conclusion, I think it is clear that over the past two seasons, Wolves have got their transfer policy correct. Compared to the expensive, unsuccessful signings leading up to the disappointing 2012-13 season, the additions the club have made since the summer of 2013 have given Wolves real strength all over the park, to help towards a push back to the promised land of the Barclays Premier League.
(Image via www.london24.com)