Opinion: Why Wolverhampton Wanderers are the Premier League's team of the season
Wolves dumped high flying Manchester United out the FA Cup to seal their semi-finals spot on a mesmerizing night at the Molineux. It was an unusual victory. This was Solskjaer’s preferred starting eleven. Against the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and others, Wolves played with such confidence and desire so as to suggest that the jerseys were reversed before the start of the match.
This was a dominant display from the Portuguese’s side. Their defenders were resolute, midfield stirring and attackers ready to surge forward. What makes this side special is the fact that this victory was not a fluke. They outclassed a superior team and thoroughly deserved the result.
And this falls in line with the string of astonishing performances against the ‘top six’ teams in English Football. They have taken points off everyone in the ‘top six’ across all competitions. In the FA Cup itself, Wolves have knocked out two heavyweights in Manchester United and Liverpool.
They have played 11 games against the 'top six', winning four, drawing four and losing just three times. This is an incredible achievement considering the experience this side has; Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho, and Jonny Castro had played zero Premier League matches before joining Wolves.
We need to keep in mind that this is not a side that has been playing regular football at the highest level. They returned to Premier League this year only after a 6-year hiatus. The task at hand for the teams that are promoted is to stay out of the relegation zone. However, Wolves’ character has ensured that they are placed at 7th in the Premier League.
Nuno has used a defensive approach in his first season in the top-flight of English Football. By playing three at the back, Wolves ensure that they do not concede easy goals. They are extremely tenacious and very difficult to break down.
This, combined with an electric midfield, has turned them into a force to be reckoned with. Nuno has evidently used his experience from his times under Jose Mourinho.
What makes this side a stand-out performer is the way in which they have punched above their weight. While Manchester City and Liverpool have invested heavily in recent years so a performance like this was due, Wolves had just entered the top flight and were never expected to outclass many of its rivals, including the 'top six'.
They have never relied on individual performances rather, they hunt in a pack. This was evident when Nuno, while receiving his Manager of the Month, said, 'There are no individual prizes in football, everything comes from the team'.
This cohesive mentality is missing in most of the top clubs, where individual brilliance has more say in determining the outcome of the game than team effort. This also explains the fact that one can hardly point finger at a Wolves player who has not given his 100%. Juxtaposing this with other teams leads us to declare this Wolves team as the team of the season in English football.
While Liverpool fans can enjoy Wolves’ humiliation of Manchester United, they themselves might be heading towards an anti-climactic end as their last fixture of the season is a visit from Wolves.