Promoted Wolves must approach next season with a degree of realism

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 16 April 2018, 14:58

THIS IS AS GOOD as it gets Wolves fans. Enjoy the promotion party while it lasts.

The most fascinating aspect of the club’s return to the Premier League after a six year absence is how this is unashamedly modern and ruthless in its approach.

Never before has an army of celebrating fans been heard to chant the name of an agent in honour of his input. Wolves fans were heard doing just that on Sunday during and after the club’s 2-0 win against Birmingham.

Maybe it was tongue in cheek aimed at the critics and the Football League who are investigating the Portuguese super agent’s influence at Molineux. But it still sounds distinctly odd.

There was a time when the supporters would carry the centre forward aloft on their shoulders. Indeed, former Brentford striker Andy McCulloch told me recently how he was stripped virtually naked in 1978 when the Bees were promoted - he was left standing upright in only his jockstrap.

The problem with singing the name of a suited middle man who cut all the deals that brought players to your club is that they don’t tend to have the best interests of the team at heart.

There is no doubt that manager Nuno Espirito Santo and Mendes have a great working relationship and that this pair have played a big part in getting Wolves back to the big time.

The issue is that Mendes acts for his clients. Not for the benefit of those who troop to Molineux every other week for home games and hand over good money for the privilege of doing so.

Seven little Portuguese flags flutter alongside the names of seven of the Wolves squad. It’s a fair assumption Mendes had his hand in all those deals.

And if he is half as good as made out to be, each one of those players will be guaranteed a pay rise upon promotion which was confirmed on Saturday night.

As a result when Wolves enter the Premier League come August the wage bill will be significantly higher and those players will be perhaps only halfway through their now bloated contracts.

Espirito Santo says he doesn’t normally allow beer in the dressing room and is a bit of a party pooper.

It’s tough raining on Wolves’ parade right now but if the club is thinking ahead it must do so with a degree of realism.

Next season they will be West Brom at worst and Burnley at best. If they stay up, good for them. This season will be the first for a number that all three promoted clubs have dodged instant relegation.

But the most Wolves can hope for is joining the 11 or so clubs in the Premier League which just exist to exist. Teams which fill the middle of the 20-club top division.

There’s not much between them. At present only 19 points separates seventh from 17th and this is a year that in-form Burnley will consider vintage.

The big danger any team which gets promoted in this money mad world of football faces is the cashflow. There’ll be plenty coming in for a while but loads going out too.

If events take a downturn come October, there’ll be a slide but all the while those players like Ruben Neves, the man who cost a Championship-record £15.8 million last summer, will be drawing their wages.

So too will Diogo Jota, Helder Costa, Ivan Cavaleiro. A lot of numbers in the ‘outflow’ box of the balance sheet.

It’s a dilemma many teams face when they get promoted of course. But none before have been so heavily influenced or reliant on one man – and one who doesn’t even wear a tracksuit or boots.


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