Nuno Espírito Santo was appointed Wolverhampton Wanderers manager back in 2017, bringing success to the club that hasn’t been seen in years. This has included promotion to the Premier League, two consecutive 7th place finishes in the top flight and a lengthy European campaign which lasted over a year.
However, in this unparalleled season Wolves have struggled to cope with the pressure and Nuno has found himself under the spotlight more than ever before.
When he took over the club around four years ago, they were in a bit of a slump, coming off the back of a 15th place Championship finish under Paul Lambert.
Since then, he has transformed the side from the West Midlands into an exciting attacking force, using his contacts to create a very Portuguese centric team.
At the start of this season, it appeared that there would be more of the same, making a strong start to the campaign, winning four out of the first seven league fixtures.
But on the 29th November, disaster struck with star striker Raúl Jiménez suffering a fractured skull following a horrific clash with Arsenal defender David Luiz. The Mexican’s health was obviously the biggest concern, but the footballing impact of his absence has also been catastrophic.
Since he arrived in Wolverhampton back in 2018, he has contributed to 32% of their league goals and despite being absent for over half of this season so far, Jiménez is still Wolves’ joint top goal scorer.
The attacking force had already been weakened in the summer, with Portuguese play maker Diogo Jota, completing a transfer to Liverpool. His loss has also been evident, with goals being hard to come by for Wolves this season.
Young starlet, Fabio Silva has been brought into the side to try and fill the Jimenez void, however he is yet to fulfil his potential, only netting two goals so far this season.
At times this season, it has appeared that Nuno has lost the dressing room and he doesn’t seem to be his usual positive self on the touch line and in interviews. It has been speculated that this is due to him not being able to see his family back in Portugal, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Whatever the cause for the change in mood at the Molineux, the drop-in form is evident. One win in the last eleven Premier League games, has left Wolves in 14th position, only nine points above the relegation zone.
This has left Nuno as the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked, according to Paddy Power.
Based off form this is completely understandable, with a win looking almost inconceivable at the moment. However, it could be argued that the current position is more realistic for Wolves’ depleted squad.
Nuno’s achievements could be the product of his downfall, with the great success bringing even greater expectations.
They have brought in a new striker in the January transfer window, with loanee Willian Jose arriving from Real Sociedad. Nuno will hope this is the move that brings the spark back to the club, or else there appears to be only one outcome, with his role as manager coming to an unfortunate end.
Wolves’ next fixture is a midweek clash with Arsenal at Molineux. Wolves won the reverse fixture 2-1, however it was a bittersweet victory as this was the game that Jiménez got injured.
After their slow start, Arsenal are climbing back up the table, going unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games. Therefore, it looks like a tricky encounter for the home side to bounce back in.
If Wolves were to lose, this could bring the end to Nuno’s tenure and the start to what could be a relegation dog fight for the 144 year old club.
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