97 days ago Wolves brought the curtain down on the most memorable season in a generation. The mood around Wolverhampton was euphoric and it hasn’t subsided in the time that has passed.
There has been a lot said about how our club conducts is business from various stakeholders and so called ‘experts’, making bold claims about what is possible for this sleeping giant. Personally I think we’ve had the best transfer window in my lifetime. Of course it would have been ideal to get things sorted earlier in the window. But for once it was exciting to be involved in the theatre of ‘deadline day’. Most fans would have said we had enough to stay up if we just maintained the squad from last season. We managed to do just that bar a couple of players. I’m sure the majority of fans will miss the absolute ‘filth’ that Barry Douglas’ left foot served up for us and Alfred N’Diaye trying to strangle anyone who defied him. But hey ho. That’s the ‘project’ we are on. Fosun and Nuno will take no prisoners.
Approaching the ground, the excitement was almost palpable. Seeing so many fans around Molineux so early before kick off is unheard of and 99% of the crowd were in their seats armed with their flags at 5.20pm. The atmosphere was hard to put into words. It was a ‘you had to be there’ experience. Almost 30,000 Wolves fans belting out our famous ‘Hi Ho Wolverhampton’ made every hair stand on end and the wait was over. The World Cup provided a welcome distraction this summer; but this is our bread and butter. This is what gets the blood flowing and the adrenaline pumping.
We set up in our signature 3-4-3 again and all the new recruits integrated seamlessly. Jonny Castro didn’t let Walcott past him once; he will be our Mr Reliable this season. Although unspectacular in an attacking sense, this quality should not be understated. The last time we got promoted to the Premier League our original personification of reliability, a certain Kevin Foley was our player of the season. These players are vital for the team and allow their more capable teammates to flourish. João Moutinho; well what can we say that hasn’t already been said about this guy? A real statement being able to lure him from the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo to our little corner of the Black Country. Perhaps he was romanticised by the idea of being close to the origins of his beloved sport and the Industrial revolution that made it all happen. Whatever the reason I’m just glad that occurrences such as this are possible these days. I don’t think I’ve seen a Wolves player so comfortable with the ball at his feet. He takes it in any position and his composure and experience will be immense for us this season. He is the definition of a ‘baller’. Raul Jimenez our third new striker in 3 transfer windows and he’s got off to the perfect start. 2 starts at Molineux and 2 goals. Aside from the goals, his all round game is very impressive. His work rate in a defensive manner is second to none and I believe we will profit from the mistakes he will bring out of opposition defenders with his incessant running. I truly believe keeping him fit is integral for us to be able to achieve whatever we are capable of. The last of our debutants was Rui Patricio. He didn’t stand a chance with either goal and most other duties were fulfilled with relative ease.
Before the game I would have been more than happy with a point and even after playing with an extra man I think a draw was a fair result. I don’t feel we did enough to warrant the 3 points. We appeared slightly nervous in the first half and afforded Everton too much respect. Even with the man advantage Everton still had the better chances and although we got into a lot of good areas in the second half; ultimately our final ball let us down time and time again. Nevertheless, there was still plenty to be optimistic about. The main thing was the character we showed in coming back twice from a goal down. We rarely had this challenge last season and the few times we did go behind we went on to lose the majority of those games. So for us to exhibit this hitherto unexpected resilience and spirit was particularly pleasing. Our golden boy is living up to the hype and the investment Fosun made in Mr Neves will pay out ten fold when that inevitable day comes. For now let’s enjoy him and the rest of his colleagues as long as we can.
Facing a team like Everton was the perfect opening day for me. It was a great barometer of where we are and what we need to do to reach the upper echelons of the league in future years. Considering they had a new manager, a new system and had 10 men for 50 minutes I was very impressed with Everton. Of course they’ve invested a huge amount and it didn’t work out for them last season. But coming to WV1 is not something many teams look forward to nowadays and they more than held their own. Their standout was obviously Richarlison and he demonstrated his ruthlessness in front of goal. Of course with an eventual fee of £50 million that’s what should be expected. He will be a great asset for Everton in the coming years as long as he tones down his melodramatic tendencies.
So all in all it was a great day. In what is a very difficult start to the season, it’s great to get off that big fat ‘0’ and start accumulating. If Saturday is anything to go by then it’s going to be an exciting season and we need Molineux to be the cauldron it was throughout the campaign. There will be ups and downs; we should expect nothing less being Wolves fans. Let’s have 18 more parties at Molineux and leave it all out there like we expect of our team!