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Matt Hobbs’ Strategy for Wolves’ Success: O’Neil’s contract & selling players


Wolves’ sporting director Matt Hobbs is already thinking ahead to the summer of 2024 at Wolverhampton Wanderers. He’s planning on selling at least one star player for big money and reinvesting in potential talents. But before that, he’ll have a key chat with head coach Gary O’Neil about extending his contract.

Hobbs gave O’Neil a three-year deal when he joined as coach last season. O’Neil’s performance has earned him the chance to discuss his future with the club. Hobbs acknowledges the need for honest conversations about the club’s plans moving forward.

Despite initial doubts from fans, O’Neil has turned things around and is now leading the team towards a potential European football challenge. Hobbs praises O’Neil’s meticulous approach and work ethic, hinting that other clubs might soon come knocking for him.


Matt Hobbs on Gary O'Neil

On a new contract…

“He’s done well enough to have that conversation. Part of that will be the plan for the club, and that’s where you have to have honest conversations about what it looks like going forward.

“That is an inevitable situation we find ourselves in this summer, for sure, but let’s not talk about it at the moment. Let’s keep an eye on what we’re trying to do. We want to finish the season well.”

On other clubs looking at him…

“They should be looking at him,” says Hobbs. “Gary is unbelievably meticulous. His attention to detail is incredible and his work ethic is incredible. His staff are a big part of it as well.

“When we met him, we thought there might be something special about him. He has not done anything to go away from that. He is still learning and developing, but he has humility. He is excellent and I would be surprised if clubs weren’t looking at him, but that is no different to a player. You have to be ready for it.

When it comes to football management, there’s always a need to keep an eye on players in the background. Take Joao Gomes, for example. While he might not be actively seeking a transfer, his impressive performance on the field is bound to attract interest from other clubs. That’s why we’ve been preparing for the possibility of his departure by scouting for potential replacements.

In his recent interviews, Hobbs highlighted the emergence of Gomes as a key player for Wolves under his new approach to team-building. Gomes, who joined the club from Flamengo at the age of 22, embodies the type of player that fits perfectly into the vision Hobbs has for the team – young, talented, and affordable.

Looking ahead, Hobbs aims to continue this successful recruitment strategy, focusing on finding the right players for Wolves rather than just the most expensive ones. By sticking to a clear plan and prioritising smart investments, he hopes to build a strong squad that can compete for European qualification consistently.

As the summer approaches, Wolves face the prospect of key players like Neto potentially moving on. While Hobbs acknowledges the likelihood of departures, he is determined to reinvest any funds wisely to strengthen the squad. By adopting a self-sustainable approach, he aims to build a financially robust football operation that can thrive in the long term.

Despite the challenges of balancing success on the pitch with financial sustainability, Hobbs remains committed to his vision for Wolves. With a focus on strategic recruitment and responsible financial management, he believes the club can navigate the complexities of player transfers while continuing to progress towards its long-term goals.



Matt Hobbs on Summer Transfer policy

“Now the strategy is, ‘This is who we are, these are the types of transfer fees we are going to spend, these are the kind of markets we’re going to look in’.

“It is more important to find the perfect player for us, not the perfect player for someone else. The perfect player for us doesn’t have to be a really expensive player.

“Everything comes back to the strategy. Stick to that. Don’t get carried away — like it would be easy to do now. If we finish the season and just miss out (on European qualification), it could be like, ‘If we just had a little bit of a go…’.

“That is what the fans want to hear, I understand that, but we’re custodians, so I have to make sure that, whenever I leave the club, it is in a better situation than we found it in. We have got a whole club to grow here and stick to a strategy that keeps us scrapping for those European places by being an underdog, to a certain extent — a disruptor, for want of a better word.

“I like finding a Max Kilman or a Joao Gomes before anyone else does it and that actually excites me more than going and spending £40million on a player.

“We can’t get them all right. That’s impossible. But when you work at that level, the ones you get wrong are way less detrimental to everything than if a £30million signing doesn’t work.”

“Essentially, every summer, I probably have to sell someone at a high value. The fewer I can sell to raise the money we need to spend, the stronger we will be as a club. Let’s say I want to raise £60million to invest in the next summer. If I can sell one player to do that, it’s much better than selling two or three.”

“My job is to not spend money from Fosun,” he says. “I’d rather that money go into the stadium, training ground, or to build something that leaves a footprint for the club. On the pitch, we can be self-sustainable. No problem. I don’t see why we feel we have a given right to expect people to put money in. It’s also not that easy to spend. Look at Newcastle. They can’t spend the money they’ve got.

This season, a few Wolves players have really stepped up – Neto, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Mario Lemina, and Matheus Cunha are some of the standout names. However, Gomes has become the face of a new team-building strategy under Hobbs. He’s the perfect age (22 when he joined from Brazilian club Flamengo just over a year ago), has the right kind of easy-going personality, and was bought for the ideal price of £15 million, fitting seamlessly into Hobbs’ vision for signings at Molineux.

Gomes’ impressive progress this season, securing him a regular spot in the Wolves starting lineup and earning him a call-up for Brazil’s upcoming friendlies against England at Wembley and Spain at Madrid’s Bernabeu, has significantly boosted his market value.

The sporting director tried to play down the idea that star player Neto will definitely leave, but everyone at Wolves knows he’s probably the one to move on after five years. Wolves will be looking for a big fee, more than the £53million City paid for Nunes, when the 23-year-old leaves. Mendes is his agent, so Wolves are waiting for a deal with Neto’s chosen club in the summer. Like with Nunes, Wolves will try to get a higher price, but they have a good relationship with Mendes, so they’ll likely agree on a deal.

Wolves will be looking to sell Daniel Podence, who is currently on loan at Olympiacos in Greece, and Fabio Silva, who was loaned to Rangers in Scotland for the rest of the season in January.


Matt Hobbs on Summer Sales

“You have to do your work in the background on players. You have to expect someone will come in for Joao Gomes. Do I think Joao wants to go? No. But the way he is playing, there will be clubs watching him for sure. I know there are. But we have been doing work for the last year to have a replacement ready if he goes.

“We’re not in a position where we have to sell,” Hobbs says. “Realistically, we don’t want to sell more than two starters this summer, but if big clubs come, I’ve never been the person to stand in someone’s way as long as we can reinvest in the right way to move forward. We showed with other players leaving last summer that we’re able to move forward with three or four starters going.

“We’re always looking to improve and we have the ability to turn down big offers, but every player has their number. I’m not sure the same market is there now. I don’t see three or four £100million players going. For me, there’s no need and no players is itching to get away. They’ve bought into Gary and everyone’s on the same page.”

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