Wolves are an established top-flight side as they navigate their fifth consecutive season in the Premier League. However, their status has perhaps never been in as much doubt during their current spell in the first division.
Their lacklustre form has left them in 18th place after one win and four defeats in eight games, scoring three times and conceding nine goals.
This has led to manager Bruno Lage getting the sack 16 months after replacing compatriot Nuno Espírito Santo, following a 2-0 defeat to West Ham last time out.
This article evaluates the fortunes of Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2022-23, using data provided by the best sports betting sites.
Only in February, Wolves were seventh in the Premier League and five points off the Champions League places. They have since disintegrated after one win in the last 15 games to reflect their dramatic decline.
For the majority of last season, the former Benfica boss appeared to be defying gravity with his side who depended on a well-drilled defence and squeezed maximum value out of every goal scored. That strong base would indeed crack under the expectation to push forward and seize a European spot.
Why are Wolves underperforming?
The Wanderers are the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season, having scored ten times in 16 games since April.
While they have so far kept three clean sheets, their lack of goals upfront has often cost them games. Infact, the West Midlanders went into their last home game against Manchester City with the best defensive record in the Premier League, but they find it impossible to react after going behind in games.
After a summer outlay of £100m spent on new signings, Fosun International and the fans will have expected more from Lage and his players.
It must be said that they haven’t been helped by injuries to an out-of-form Raúl Jiménez and £15.4m signing Saša Kalajdžić’s ACL rupture on debut, although they signed free agent Diego Costa, Wolves need more from their band of talented but underperforming forwards including Pedro Neto, Gonçalo Guedes, Hwang Hee-Chan and Adama Traoré.
Elsewhere, the collapse has been self-inflicted.
Lage had fully switched to a back four – after the widely-criticized call of getting rid of captain Conor Coady to leave on loan to Everton, and Willy Boly’s departure to Nottingham Forest – yet their midfield playmaker Rúben Neves had to deputize in a back-three against West Ham due to suspension.
21-year-old defender Nathan Collins has been a valuable addition as well as £38m signing Matheus Nunes from Sporting, but Guedes still awaits for his first goal for the club after eight underwelming outings having joined with a big reputation from Valencia.
The 25-year-old is a curious case in particular given he joined after the most prolific campaign of his career playing as a central striker, a problem position where he hasn’t got to play much for Wolves.
Who can drive Wolves forward?
It is apparent that the Molineux side are desperate to be let off the shackles to spark them back to life. They need a tactician who retains their defensive ethos but can change the fortunes of their attack.
Nevertheless, the perfect candidate will be one who speaks Portuguese.
There are currently nine Portuguese first-team players, with Max Kilman and untested third-choice goalkeeper Jackson Smith the only English squad members. Eight of the starters in Lage’s final line-up were Portuguese, with Tote Gomes on the bench
This heavy dependence on players from the same country limits Wolves’ scope of options as the outgoing managerial crew proved Lage was appointed based on his experience in the country that produces Wolves players, rather than his acumen in the English game.
Thus; Eusebio di Francesco, Pedro Martins, Ruben Amorim and Steve Cooper have all been touted as possible names while ex-Porto boss Julen Lopetegui is considered the top candidate for the Wolves job after leading Sevilla to their worst start to a La Liga season in 41 years.
Whoever the new manager is will most likely miss their next game at Chelsea with Steve Davis and James Collins set to take caretaker charge.
However, he will be happy to work with Costa who looked promising in his 30-minutes debut against West Ham, while Collins and Neves will be available for their following game against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest after suspension.
Even with an imbalanced squad, this is a talented group of players and the new man will be desperate for a win that could lift Wolves out of the relegation zone. Everyone at the Molineux will hope that a new voice in the dressing room will spark a change in fortunes. What are the odds of that voice being Lusophone? Your guess is as good as mine.