Why Manchester United and West Ham should fear the Wolves?

Wolverhampton Wanderers, commonly known as Wolves, are considered a threat to Manchester United and West Ham this season. All three clubs are jostling hard for a top-four finish to qualify for next year’s Champions League. Meanwhile, West Ham and Manchester get all the attention compared to Wolves who have a better chance than the two biggest clubs. Wolves currently stand 7th in the points table despite playing two fewer games than Manchester United and the Hammers. 

Source: Business post Nigeria

Therefore, in this article, we will try to analyze why Wolves have a better chance than the other two clubs. We will compare the stats and form they are in and leave it for you to decide. Let’s get into it:

Defensively strong under Bruno Lage

Wolves appointed Bruno Lage as their new manager in 2021 after the exit of Nuno Espirito Santo. Lage came to Wolves as a winning manager who won the Portuguese title with Benfica. The 45-year-old manager adopted an aggressive possession game, keeping Nuno’s 3-4-3 formation. However, they decided to change it after poor results and conceding lots of goals. 

Marcal covering the ball against Chelsea FC. Source: fpl

Since then, Lage has focused on the defensive side and adopted the most conservative defensive model. The team ranks second in the Premier League for pressure in their own third. This clearly indicates Lage’s intention to sit off his teams. Likewise, Wolves press briefly after losing the ball and quickly drop back and wait for the opponent to lose the ball. 

Wolves manager Bruno Lage instructing Raul Jimenez. Source: The Telegraph

Furthermore, this strategy and excellent coordination at the back makes them the second team to concede fewer goals than Manchester City. Also, the team consists of hardworking players at the back with the likes of Rayan Ait-Nourini (LB), Marcal (RB), Conor Coady (CB), Nelson Semedo (RB), Roman Saiss (CB). Also, experts believe the credit for good defensive prowess goes to goalkeeper Jose Sa. He has been exceptional for the man in Yellow.

Style of Play

Wolves played a direct style of football before Bruno Large, upon Lage’s arrival. They played one-touch football channeled by the central midfielders. This helps them to play more creative football than previously long diagonal ball play. They love to sit back in respective positions with the center falling back to support the wing-backs and center defense. Therefore, it makes it hard for the opposition to break down their defense. 

Moreover, the wolves side quickly use their wing-backs as the attackers whenever their midfielder or striker gets the ball. All thanks to creative forward Raul Jimenez who holds the ball and passes it to the center midfielder. Jimenez is the fulcrum of the side, with Daniel Podence and Trincao expected to make runs ahead of him. The attacking prowess of Trincao on the right and Podence from the center gives Jimenez the opportunity to wait for the ball to arrive inside the box.

Top Four looks Realistic

Wolves currently stand 7th in the table with two games spare compared to Manchester United and West Ham. Currently, under Lage, wolves prioritize safety over good-looking attacking football. This style of play has given advantages to them while playing any side. The flexible and well-coordinated sides understand each other much better than any other side. For instance, Lage’s side won over Tottenham by 2-0, breaking Contes’s tactics by adding a third central midfielder countering Spurs’ two. 

Furthermore, their ability to be brave while attacking threatens the opposition defense to sit back rather than a full-on attack. Their style of play might not be entertaining, but surely they know how to win games if not draw against the top teams. Also, they are currently unbeaten for three games in a row. Therefore, it seems the top four look realistic for Wolverhampton Wanderers.