Europa League: A summertime slog but a chance for Wolves to show they are different to the pack

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 21 June 2019, 13:20

Wolverhampton Wanderers are about to discover the reality of life in football’s fast lane.

The reward for gatecrashing the top seven of the Premier League last season is a summertime slog that could have repercussions come winter.

In less than four weeks’ time Wolves will be in China having accepted the dubious honour to play in the Asia Trophy. The final is on July 20 - while the Open Golf is still underway.

Then it’s the home leg of the Second qualifying round of the Europa League five days later and a return trip to either Northern Ireland or the Faroe Islands on August 1.

All this before a ball gets booted in anger in the Premier League the following weekend.

But it’s no good complaining. Wolves fans are no doubt already excited at the prospect of a first European tie in 39 years.

Let’s just hope that now they are in the big time they don’t go the same way as all their peers and disregard the Europa League.

Wolves’ manager Nuno Espirito Santo is one of the most highly-regarded in the land. So much so that Chelsea still have an eye on him as head coach.

Qualifying for Europe is a significant anchor to keep him at the club and out of the clutches of the bigger teams. Wolves are on the up.

The added air miles is the price you have to pay and it can be a weight juggling those Thursday and Sunday games.

There is also a third qualifying round before the group stage even kicks in. It will drain legs and resources at Molineux undoubtedly.

But where you can understand teams like Chelsea and Arsenal aiming higher and viewing the Europa League as a mild inconvenience, for Wolves it is a blessing.

Just as Watford, Everton or West Ham whether they would rather be in it or out of it and we all know the answer in advance.

The arrival of the Europa League for Wolves is a timely gift. The club is on the up and achieving European football a year after promotion from the Championship is a seriously good achievement.

It will also help keep all those wonderful players signed through super agent Jorge Mendes happy - for a time at least.

They will play either Crusaders of Northern Ireland or the wonderfully named B36 Torshavn up on the edges of the Arctic Circle.

What a journey could begin there where it will be light 24 hours a day.

And this year at least the Europa League winds up in Poland for the final instead of far-flung Azerbaijan.

Nuno has shown how he has been prepared to buck the trend of newly-promoted teams and put on attractive football for the fans instead of shutting up shop and hoping to simply avoid relegation.

He should treat the forthcoming China Cup as a nuisance; it’s a collection of exhibition games to generate money for the Premier League.

The Europa League is a serious opportunity for Wolves to continue the remarkable progress being made at Molineux and Nuno should embrace it.

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