The Joe Edwards debrief – Wolves 0 Sevilla 1
Wolves’ season is over after a 1-0 loss to Sevilla in the Europa League quarter-finals.
A disappointing, gutting result in Germany for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, but what a ride it has been over the past year.
So many people, at the start of the campaign, stressed ‘Wolves won’t be able to cope with the demands of the Europa League and the Premier League, especially with such a small squad’.
Well, they were proven emphatically wrong. A second straight seventh-placed finish was achieved in the top flight while making it to the last eight of the Europa.
The way Wolves ended both – understandably running out of steam in the final weeks of a 59-game term – has left you wondering what could have been but, overall, this team deserves a massive amount of praise.
Supporters should be immensely proud of the efforts of Nuno’s players.
Nobody could argue that Sevilla deserved to win in Duisburg, despite Raul Jimenez’s penalty miss and the possible encroachment that came with it, but you also cannot deny the fact that Wolves provided us with some magical moments in 2019/20.
The double over Manchester City will live long in the memory, as will the win at Tottenham shortly before the pandemic, and putting four past both Besiktas and Espanyol as European football returned to Molineux at long last.
And, in general, the way Nuno and his pack have carried themselves – committed, classy performances while speaking with passion and determination – has been nothing short of admirable.
You cannot fault the squad’s commitment, at all. They have given every ounce of energy over the course of the season, which was shown in some leggy displays towards the end.
Now, they have a short time to rest before getting ready for the Premier League’s restart in a month’s time. And as they reflect on what has been achieved, they can all hold their heads high. They have been a joy to watch.
This period is one for reflection, but it is also very much the time to analyse things and decide where Wolves can get better.
Nuno and the hierarchy are on a constant search for improvement and, as the boss said after Tuesday night’s loss, signings are needed.
Nothing too radical is required, of course, given how well this group has done. But they do need a bit of help.
And while Covid-19 will no doubt have an effect on the market, Wolves seem well-placed to bring in fresh faces.
It would be a surprise to see them break the bank on one specific player, but is seems very much realistic to expect three or four signings for a significant collective chunk of cash.
Hopefully, they can keep hold of the star players – Jimenez appearing to be the one the club are in the most danger of losing, although his age may put off potential suitors – and build on the foundations already in place.
In terms of the areas that could do with bolstering, a wing-back surely has to be fairly high on their list after Jonny Castro Otto’s anterior cruciate ligament injury.
A proven centre-back would also go down nicely, as would a striker – in an ideal word to provide some competition for Jimenez – and a ball-carrying midfielder who offers more of a goal threat.
The general consensus is that the market will get busier in September but Wolves, who like to do their business quietly, will be working around the clock every day now.
Something else is the top priority, though.
Now the season is over, hopefully Wolves and Nuno can properly sit down and get fresh terms agreed.
The Portuguese’s words following the Sevilla game, highlighting how we wants to strengthen the side while expressing his pride in the process thus far, pointed towards him remaining here for the long term.
It is a key summer for Wolves now, and you get the feeling that as long Nuno is able to make reinforcements, he will be more than happy to stick around.
Not having European football next season is a blow, but it also presents an opportunity to have a proper go at the domestic cup competitions as well as looking to finish high up in the league again.
Nuno would love to have something tangible to truly show how far the club has come under his watch. There is still work to be done and perhaps a bit of silverware to be won.