Before the start of the season, Wolves were in chaos and many believed they were destined for relegation. Criticisms from Lopetegui about the lack of investment, a shortage of goal scorers, and a dim future painted a grim picture for the team.
Gary O’Neil joined just days before the match against Manchester United, and his impact was immediate as the team displayed newfound spirit. Despite registering a record 23 shots at Old Trafford, Wolves couldn’t convert their chances. However, fast forward to recent weeks, and Wolves have netted seven goals in the last two Premier League matches. Despite not securing a number 9 in the transfer window, they are still finding the back of the net, with Matheus Cunha, Pedro Neto, and Hwang Hee-Chan posing a threat with their incredible pace, striking fear into opposing defences.
When Wolves defeated Brentford 4-1 just after Christmas, it marked the first time the club had ever won an away game by scoring four goals in Premier League history. Only five weeks later, they repeated this feat against Chelsea. The 4-2 victory at Stamford Bridge may be seen in the context of Chelsea’s struggles, but there’s another side to the tale. Wolves, who were the lowest-scoring team in the Premier League last season, are now on track to achieve their best goals-per-game ratio in the top division for 60 years.
The team spirit has been impressive. They had to quickly build relationships, but thanks to spending hours on the training ground and gaining valuable insights that have helped to enhance their performances, it’s paying off. O’Neil has simply helped so many of these Wolves players improve.
At the beginning of the season, Wolves played with a back four but the game against Manchester City was the catalyst for change because O’Neil changed up the team’s formation, bringing in an extra defender, Toti Gomes. O’Neil has since evolved this by altering the formation both in and out of possession. This tactical change sees Toti dropping back alongside Dawson and Kilman when defending, while taking up the left-back position when attacking, allowing Rayan Ait-Nouri to showcase his speed and attacking prowess down the wing. This adjustment has significantly contributed to Wolves’ improved performance.
Gary has worked to develop individuals as well as the team. Matheus Cunha, Pedro Neto, and Hee-Chan Hwang, have proven the sceptics wrong. According to O’Neil, all three of them are performing close to their best right now. This season is Cunha’s most successful in terms of goal scoring. Hwang has managed to double his previous best record in a top European league. Pedro Neto is currently ranked third in the Premier League for assists, with eight assists despite missing two months due to injury.
With a total of 37 goals already in the league, surpassing their previous season’s tally, Wolves’ attacking prowess revolves around speed and directness. The team has embraced O’Neil’s tactics, demonstrating trust, resilience, and a strong bond with the fans reminiscent of the Nuno era.
Gary O’Neil’s stock is rising and there is no doubt he has made Wolves a far superior team to the one he inherited. Let’s hope Wolves can hold on to him!
Twenty First Group have revealed the top performing managers so far this season.
Wolves have had a fantastic season with Gary O’Neil at the helm. Since taking over from Julen Lopetegui at the beginning of the season, their new manager has guided them to fourth place in this performance league.
Thanks to Gary, Wolves have increased their expected final points total by 8.0. They have climbed to tenth in the league after winning nine, losing 5 and drawing 4 of their most recent matches. Impressively, Wolves now sit third in the league’s form table following recent wins over Chelsea, Everton, and Brentford.