Express & Star

Wolves Fans' Verdict on 2023/24 season

After a slow end to the season, Wolves eventually finished the 2023/24 campaign 14th in the Premier League.

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But it was still a season that offered plenty of positives as Gary O’Neil completed the first full campaign of his managerial career.

In one final fans’ verdict of the season, our Wolves supporters look back at 2023/24.

John Lalley

The season began in confusion and turmoil and finished up with more uncertainty and dissatisfaction.

From a mass fire sale and a disgruntled coach flouncing out at late notice to a wretched and uninspiring last third and a club at loggerheads with its supporters seething at a swinging increase in ticket prices.

In between times, Gary O’Neil with his staff and the players not shipped out, remarkably avoided the predicted disintegration without a sliver of difficulty. This in itself is some achievement regardless of the desperate stumble that we endured after safety had been ensured.

Throw in the fact that the ghastly VAR system reserved an inexplicable and wholly disproportionate percentage of its infuriating misjudgements to deflate us. This incompetence could have proved to be permanently wounding and the club’s proposal to abolish this ignominy may be perceived as grandstanding, but respected pundits conceded that Wolves suffered on an industrial scale. Currently, the system is a nonsense and simply has to reform itself dramatically.

Remember too that the club were either unable or unwilling to strengthen the squad in the January window. Ultimately, the numbers game crucially caught up with us; stripped of firepower through injuries, O’Neil was forced to rely on youngsters not yet ready for such responsibility.

The instability spread throughout the team; defensive uncertainty compounded by the injury to Dawson contributed to a sickening FA Cup defeat and a subsequent drop in standards that saw us plummet in a downward trajectory.

The principal objective was achieved, splendidly so but reasons for the subsequent fall out cannot be ignored.

With angry supporters feeling taken for granted, next season should it begin badly will be flamed with hostility and fingers of blame pointing in the direction of the club’s hierarchy.

An increasingly shabby stadium with a wholly inadequate capacity is the backdrop for what many perceive as static ambition and a lack of vision. There will be no significant financial outlay on new players; that message has already been conveyed but some creative recruiting has to be done. If this means a couple of our more saleable assets departing to accommodate fresh blood then so be it.

Manchester City paid handsomely to take Matheus Nunes off the books and we didn’t miss him one jot. Conversely, we have been suffering since Diogo Jota left for Liverpool; clubs of our size need to do business with some flexibility and imagination. How Wolves line up in August is speculative, but currently the outlook is far from positive.

There were some sublime performances this season; Spurs and Chelsea home and away, City and Everton at Molineux were magnificent but any notion that a summer break will rekindle the fire for this squad without reinforcements is fanciful.

There are some demolished bridges to be rebuilt; it’s not impossible, but I’m distinctly uneasy. O’Neil with his neck on the line, might be facing an even bigger challenge than the one he has just overcome.

Clive Smith

We are all familiar with the backstory from the start of last season. The cards were stacked against us in a way we should not now overlook. Starting with three tough home games we didn’t know how we would face up to the challenge – many pundits were predicting the worst and those of us with Wolves in our veins, naturally, had some concerns.

With hindsight, remarkably, we needn’t have worried. Although we didn’t know it at the time, by December 30 we’d enough points to stay up. Compared to being bottom, at Christmas, the season before, surely that shows improvement or does eventually finishing one position lower, in 14th, suggest not?

How you view the season probably depends whether you are half full, or half empty. Like the previous season there were plenty of contrasts. Sheffield United only won three games – one was against us. Man City only lost three games – one was against us. The two extremes.

Where did/do you expect Wolves to be? In a European place or a relegation place. The obvious answer is somewhere in-between but that is so competitive, fine margins are in play, and those inevitably fluctuate over the season.

For Wolves, our fluctuation was mainly driven by the availability of our front three. We lost Neto on matchday 10 for 10 games and he did not start any of our final 10 either. From matchday 20 Hwang missed 10 of the next 13 games while Cunha left the field on matchday 24 and missed 10 of the next 11. A few too many stats there but collectively their impact was significant.

Annoyingly all three players went missing when they were each showing excellent form – arguably their best ever in a Wolves shirt.

This trio of injuries contributed massively to the low point of our season. Anything resembling a forward line and we’d have put pay to Coventry and had two trips to Wembley, silverware and future trips to Europe on our CV.

There were several high points that were memorable. Beating City and the ‘really unbelievable’ closing minutes against Spurs at home. Likewise, playing so well and winning at Spurs and Chelsea were both great days out.