Premier League preview 2018/19 - Wolves: Flying return to top flight ahead for Championship winners

Richard Jolly is analysing all 20 teams competing in the Premier League and giving his verdict on how they will fare. Here he looks at how the side who dominated the Championship last season handle life back among the elite

DERBY, ENGLAND - JULY 28:  Joe Ledley of Derby County passes the ball ahead of Joao Moutinho of Wolverhampton Wanderers during a pre-season friendly match between Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Pride Park on July 28, 2018 in Derby, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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It was one of the more impressive promotions in memory, secured with 99 points, in the first year of a managerial regime and with a radically different style of play and formation.

Since then, the sense Wolves may be bound for bigger and better things has been amplified by the arrivals of two of Portugal’s Euro 2016 winners, goalkeeper Rui Patricio and midfielder Joao Moutinho.

The Mexico international striker Raul Jimenez is another high-calibre addition, though, for all Wolves’ flair, they may not have a prolific player. Yet they seem to have the structure, the budget and the talent to stay up comfortably.


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Key player: Ruben Neves – It was remarkable that the youngest player to captain a team in the Uefa Champions League operated in the Championship last season. Neves' long-range goals caught the eye but his capacity to control games with his passing proved more important.

It reportedly attracted Liverpool’s interest, but he signed a deal until 2023 with Wolves.

Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo – The former Valencia and Porto manager was super-agent Jorge Mendes' first client. The Portuguese connection has now helped him import plenty of his compatriots while Nuno signed a contract extension in June.

The question may be how far he can take a club without a top-10 finish in the top flight since 1980.

Talking point: Can Wolves continue to dominate games at the top level?

Their ambitious brand of football and quality recruitment allowed them to out-pass Championship opponents. Now their two premier central midfielders should be Neves and Joao Moutinho, twin playmakers, but others will have more combativity and physicality in the centre of the pitch.

And the trend is for promoted clubs, even those who survive, to operate with rather less of the ball. So will Wolves change their style or be able to impose it on the elite?

Prediction: 9th.