Julen Lopetegui, the perfect individual to save Wolves from relegation to the championship. An abundance of managerial experience at the highest level will be put into action at the Molineux Stadium for the foreseeable future and the Wolverhampton Wanderers faithful should be optimistic. So what will Lopetegui bring to Wolves?
What Lopetegui Brings to Wolves
What Lopetegui Brings to Wolves
Wolves’ Season so far
Prior to the arrival of Lopetegui, Wolves had won one game in their last nine Premier League matches, which emphasises just how big of a job he has taken on. They sat in 19th position and squad morale was at an all-time low, with each game passing by with uninspiring performances, a downward spiral that needed to be stopped. Bruno Lage and interim boss Steve Davis were in charge for this run, where their side lacked any attacking threat and were clearly playing with minimal confidence.
Luckily for the squad and the club, the World Cup break was just around the corner, which was the perfect opportunity to bring in new management and develop a strategy for success. The majority of the Wolves team didn’t take part in the World Cup which gave Lopetegui the opportunity to install his philosophy into the squad and develop relationships within the dressing room. Although Captain Ruben Neves wasn’t present during this break due to international commitments, Lopetegui is familiar with the Wolves midfielder from his time at Porto where he gave Neves his first competitive debut.
What will Lopetegui’s Wolves look like?
The manager formerly of the Spain national team, Real Madrid and most recently Sevilla brings that bite back to Wolves which made them an incredibly difficult team to play against when they were promoted in 2018. High intensity will make his side hunt down the opposition and a compact structure will make them hard to play through. The fighting spirit should be a complete contrast to the passive Wolves of late, playing with a hunger to survive.
Lopetegui likes to use a 4-3-3 variant with quick attacking wingers that can oppose a huge threat in transition. The full-backs in his system will often sacrifice defensive security for offensive opportunities, creating overloads all over the field. He is a manager who has a formula which allows him to win football matches, his success prior to this season with Sevilla provides evidence. In 2020, Lopetegui won the UEFA Europa League with Sevilla, defeating Inter Milan 3-2 in the final and beating Manchester United 2-1 in the semi-finals.
The ex-Sevilla boss had a terrible start to the season with his old club, yet many factors contributed to the results. His squad was a mixture of youth and veterans, with both his central defenders leaving in the summer, with a huge lack of backing and funding to work with. This recent run shouldn’t define Lopetegui’s managerial ability.
What do Wolves need to improve?
Wolves’ biggest issue over the last couple of seasons has been their inability to score goals. They don’t have a shortage of strikers, however, with Diego Costa and Raul Jimenez both fit. The unfortunate injury to new summer signing, Sasa Kalajdzic, has meant that Wolves have been left short of quality up front. They have recently acquired the services of Matheus Cunha from Atletico Madrid which seems to be a brilliant move, with his profile fitting perfectly into a Lopetegui system. He will provide pace, flair, and dynamism.
Since Conor Coady left on loan to Everton at the start of the season, Wolves have lacked authority and experience in the defensive positions. It has been identified that a new right back and a new centre back is needed, in order to secure Wolves place in the Premier League next season.
Nelson Semedo and Jonny can both play at right back for Wolves, but they are both unreliable. A potential target could be Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Manchester United who has been rumoured to leave the Red Devils in January. In regard to the centre-back position, both Max Kilman and Nathan Collins are solid defenders but they both lack experience. A commanding player should be scouted that has the ability to provide reassurance to those around him.
Wolves have also been heavily linked to ex-Southampton man Mario Lemina, who currently plays in France for OGC Nice. The 29-year-old midfielder from Gabon would provide much-needed depth and physicality for the Wolves midfield, with Physicality being a key component in Lopetegui’s approach to games.
Will Wolves survive?
With the appointment of Julen Lopetegui, the club and their fans should be confident that Wolves can escape the relegation zone. In his first three games in charge, he has shown signs of creating a team that is difficult to beat with the desire to improve and work hard for the badge on their chest. A 2-1 victory away to Everton could be a huge result come the end of the season, a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United had many positives and a 1-1 draw away against rivals Aston Villa, were all good performances from a side who should not be near the relegation zone. The future is bright and bringing in Lopetegui was an extremely smart move. Wolves will survive.
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