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Opposition View: Wolverhampton Wanderers

23 September 2016

Express & Star's Tim Spiers tells us what to expect from Wolves tomorrow afternoon

Has Wolves’ start to the campaign gone as expected?

I don’t think anyone knew what to expect! With a new owner, new head coach and 12 new signings (all appointed/signed within the space of six extremely frantic weeks) Wolves have stepped into the unknown. But the early signs are promising.

A win, a draw and a defeat in the league for September, what can we expect on Saturday?

Wolves have looked better away from home so far, soaking up pressure and hitting teams on the counter. At home, they’re winless in their last three (drawing 0-0 with Ipswich, 1-1 with Burton and then collapsing 4-0 to Barnsley 10 days ago). The Barnsley defeat, when Wolves capitulated and conceded all four goals in the last 15 minutes, shocked everyone at the club. Zenga got the reaction his fierce criticism demanded at Newcastle a few days later. But in front of a smaller home crowd where the atmosphere may be quiet, the onus will be on Wolves to attack and create.

A summer of almost as many ins as outs, was the last transfer window a positive one?

After an underwhelming 12 months of hit-and-miss transfers, it was overwhelmingly positive. Wolves went from shopping in the League One bargain basement to breaking their transfer record (£7m for Ivan Cavaleiro), signing proven Ligue 1 midfielders (Roman Saiss and Prince Oniangue), an Icelandic Euro 2016 star (striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson) and a clutch of exciting youngsters on loan (Joao Teixeira, Helder Costa and Ola John). Fans’ favourite Richard Stearman rejoined on loan too. The quality of the squad has improved immeasurably as a result. Now it’s about fitting them all in, as when all fit Wolves now have 28 first-team players on their books.

After a double relegation in 2012 and then 2013, where do you think the club is heading now Wolves are back in the Championship?

If you’d asked me two months ago I’d have said nowhere. The club’s budget had shrunk, no players were being signed owing to an impending takeover, and fan apathy was dangerously high. Since Chinese investment firm Fosun’s £30m takeover everything has changed. Suddenly there’s talk of becoming an established Premier League club, making it big in China and transforming Wolves on and off the field. Fosun’s track record as a shrewd and no-nonsense global investment firm suggests they won’t rest until they achieve their goals – and quickly.

How are the fans taking to the new manager?

Zenga’s track record (16 jobs in 18 years and no experience in English football) meant his appointment was greeted with a large chunk of scepticism. But his passion, charisma, fiery temperament and attacking approach have won most fans over. It certainly won’t be boring with Zenga and he needs time, not just to mould his team and squad, but also to get used to English football and the Championship.

Who will worry Brentford the most this weekend?

Of all the new signings, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has been the pick so far. He’s tall, physical, quick, good in air and mobile.

Finally, a score prediction for the match?

Wolves are due a home win and will have garnered so much confidence from the 2-0 win at Newcastle last weekend, which they fully merited. Brentford turned Wolves over twice last season and they’ve made an impressive start to the season, so it’ll be a very tough game, but I’ll back Wolves for a tight 2-1 win.

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