Wolverhampton has hovered between the top three divisions of English football for a long time before now, their notable success came almost half a century ago, and before Nuno was appointed as the new manager to restore back their lost glory, they’ve been lagging behind in the league and even finished 15th on the log under Paul Lambert in the Championship.
Only a few Wolverhampton Wanderers fans would have been optimistic about the signing of Nuno Espirito Santo as the new manager of the Midlands club when he was unveiled in 2017, having seen two managers jettison in 10 months by the new Chinese owners Fosun before he was appointed.
Nuno Espirito Santo a former professional goalkeeper for the Portuguese national team and played for few other top clubs in Europe now turned one of the finest managers in England and perhaps in the world.
Nuno, without doubt, has broken that cliché about goalkeepers not been a good and successful manager after their playing career, but as for him, he has proved beyond doubt that goalkeepers could actually be one of finest manager, having honed his coaching skills at Rio Ave, Valencia and Porto with decent results to show for.
The Midlands club resurgence, perhaps wouldn’t have been possible if not for the takeover by the Chinese billionaire firm Fosun International before the start of the 2016-17 season, and specifically, the appointment of the Portuguese gaffer Nuno Espirito Santo before the beginning of a new season, having performed woefully in the previous season under the tutelage of Paul Lambert.
According to Nuno when he was considering whether to work in the Championship, “Can I make my idea work in this league“? without mincing words, with the huge turnaround, the Midlands club is currently enjoying, the answer to Nuno’s question is an emphatic yes.
One thing that also played an important role in the renaissance of Wolverhampton was Nuno’s strong relationship with the ‘Super Agent’ Jorge Mendes, the revered soccer agent was Nuno’s client in his playing days, and their relationship has aided the club in attracting decent players in the transfer market like Ruben Neves from Porto, Raul Jimenez who came in on loan but later signed permanently for Wolves, Diogo Jota, Rui Patricio, and former Monaco midfielder Joao Moutinho.
Nuno’s trajectory as a coach should be applauded. However, his success as a manager perhaps wouldn’t have been possible without the veteran coach Jesualdo Ferreira who he assisted at Panathinaikos and Malaga as a goalkeeping coach, before he finally took the managerial position of Rio Ave in Portugal.
Without a doubt, we could say what he learned a lot while with Jesualdo Ferreira, which has been evident in how his team adapts to his tactics and philosophy on the pitch.
Very few people would have expected Wolves to get promoted to the Premier League, having seen them performed the tastefully in the Championship under the guardian of Lambert when they finished 15th on the table.
Surprisingly the Midlands club defies the odd and punched above their weight by winning the Championship trophy with an emphatic 99 total point that season, which orchestrated their promotion to the Premier League under Nuno’s tutelage with some of their prudent transfer dealings.
Following their triumph in the Championship, the media were of the opinion that the Midlands club could be the dark horse in the Premier League, having seen how well they performed, and how the team often set up tactically.
The courage to dream and believe started creeping in for the Midlands club faithful once again, as they headed to the top flight with the hope that they perform exceptionally, surprisingly their first season under Nuno resulted with a 7th place finish in the league.
As it stands Wolverhampton have grown from been a dark horse team as they’re yet enjoying another great season under the bearded Portuguese manager since the league restart having gone on break due to the pandemic the Midlands side have won three matches, lost one against Arsenal as they push further for a European ticket.
The Midlands success right from the Championship down to the Premier League wouldn’t have been possible without Nuno’s diverse formations and specifically his players like Adama Traore who has been very brilliant for them this season, Diogo Jota, Raul Jimenez, Ruben Neves amongst others, their impressive performances this season once again has shown how the tenacity of the team is getting better with Nuno in charge.
As a football enthusiast, you would agree with that Wolverhampton are among the Premier League most difficult and hardworking team.
Having seen their trajectory in the league since they got promoted to the top flight with a good mix of direct football, coupled with good movement on the ball against smaller teams and the big boys in the league.
With Ruben Neves, Moutinho, and Dedoncker making the middle of the pack thick, Traore pace and power, the tireless wing backs of Doherty, Jonny, and the top-notch performance of Rui Patricio in between the stick.
Almost three years now and still counting since the bearded gaffer took over at the Molineux stadium, he has delivered a Championship title, a seventh-place finish in his first reign in the league, an FA Cup semi-finals and a European football for the first time since 1980, all of these is testament to the remarkable progress the Midlands side are enjoying under a new owner, hard-working and a progressive manager in Nuno Espirito Santo.
With the look of things and the hard-driven language of the new owner and perhaps Nuno, if he doesn’t join a bigger team in the future, it seems Wolverhampton’s journey of success is only just beginning because they don’t seem like a team that wants to relinquish it’s good form in the league and perhaps in Europe.
The big question now is, would Nuno be able to get close to what Stan Cullis achieved, the legendary multiple leagues and cups winning manager of the West Midlands side?
Only time would tell though, as the fans are currently enjoying his reign without the fear of going back to struggling old days of the Championship, were they usually parade between 15th and 18th position before Nuno Espirito Santo was employed to lead the team back to the pinnacle of success.
As far as the marriage between Wolverhampton and Nuno Espirito Santo is a concern, it won’t be out of place to conclude that the West Midlands are one of the best-managed team in England, and perhaps in the whole of Europe under Nuno, with the way he has fine-tune the team into a free-flowing football side with the knack to fight till the end against the finest team in England and Europe.
One thing that is synonymous with football managers is that they tend to move from one club to the other, once they’re enjoying a brilliant time in their work, various teams would come calling for their services, without a doubt.
Nuno is currently enjoying a wonderful time in his career, having said that, how long would this fruitful marriage between Wolverhampton and Nuno last? As he’s yet to lunch an assault on another commendable position in the league this season, perhaps next season or more only time would tell.
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.