Express & Star

Golden Wolves memories from Nuno’s first 100 games

Wolves’ 4-1 win away at Crusaders last Thursday marked the 100th game in charge for Nuno Espirito Santo.


Unsurprisingly, given Wolves’ continuous success in the past two years, Nuno boasts the best win percentage of any manager in Wolves’ history, almost 10 per cent higher than the likes of Stan Cullis, Kenny Jackett and Ted Vizard.

One-hundred games, 56 wins, 154 goals, a Championship title, a run to the FA Cup semi-finals and a seventh-place finish in the Premier League to ensure Wolves’ first European football for 39 years. Not bad, Nuno. Not bad.

The man who has a god-like status among the Wolves faithful has overseen some truly unforgettable victories in the past 24 months – and here we pick out the stand-out wins of Nuno’s tenure so far.

Game 1, August 5, 2017 - Middlesbrough (h), 1-0

Leo Bonatini of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0.

No- one quite knew what to expect when a new-look Wolves team enlisting a new playing style and managed by a new head coach took on promotion favourites Middlesbrough on a sunny August afternoon at Molineux in 2017.

One of the many fresh faces on show, Leo Bonatini, struck in the first half to edge a tight game by a solitary goal.

A sturdy defence – which was to prove the backbone on which a title campaign was built – kept Boro out at the other end to keep the first of many clean sheets that season.

Game 29, December 30, 2017 - Bristol City (a), 2-1

Ryan Bennett of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-2. (AMA)

A goal down and a man down at Ashton Gate, Wolves rallied to produce an astonishing comeback.

A red card for the hosts was followed by a Barry Douglas equaliser and then the latest of late winners from Ryan Bennett, whose header sparked a pitch invasion from the Wolves staff as Nuno (also sent off) went berserk in the directors’ box.

The double penalty drama at Cardiff won Wolves the title a few months later, but this was the game that set them firmly on a path to promotion.

Game 69, December 5, 2018 - Chelsea (h), 2-1

Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-1. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

Wolves adapted well to life in the Premier League but a barren run of one point from six matches in autumn represented by far the worst spell of Nuno’s reign.

Things looked bleak when they went 1-0 down to Chelsea, but after Bennett brilliantly denied Willian a second, Wolves rallied in the second half with strikes from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota sending Molineux potty in the first of three wins in 10 days that got Wolves back on track.

Game 89, March 16, 2019 - Man United (h), 2-1

Diogo Jota scores his side's second goal of the game during the FA Cup quarter final match

Quite simply a coming-of-age performance and victory which saw Wolves reach their first FA Cup semi-final for 21 years.

Molineux was shaken to its very core as Nuno’s boys dismantled Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United with Jimenez and Jota again the goalscorers, the latter leaving Luke Shaw on his backside before firing past David de Gea to spark spine-tingling scenes that the stadium hadn’t witnessed for years.

Marcus Rashford’s late consolation meant nothing, but sadly Nuno’s game No. 92, in the semi-final against Watford at Wembley, didn’t prolong the FA Cup fairytale.

Game 96, April 27, 2019 - Watford (a), 2-1

Diogo Jota of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-2. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

However, redemption was on offer just a couple of weeks later as Wolves headed to Vicarage Road for a crunch clash in the ‘race for seventh’.

With Wembley memories fresh in their minds, Wolves produced a perfect away performance with goals from, you guessed it, Jimenez and Jota, whose form since the aforementioned Chelsea victory when Nuno pulled off a tactical masterstroke with a switch to 3-5-2 engineered a deeply impressive second half of the campaign.

Wolves rallied after their Wembley loss, also beating Arsenal, but Watford ended the season with four defeats and lost the final to Manchester City. Wolves may have lost the Wembley battle but, in terms of European qualification, they won the war.