So Wolves fans …. how do you feel now that the dream deal has been done? Not quite the 2nd richest club in the land (as we would have been if bought by Robin Li) but surely with an owner such as Fosun International, global brand owners (including a 91m partner of Thomas Cook) Wolves fans are walking in a ‘Wanderers Chinese Wonderland’ at the moment. The difference between being #5 richest billionaire in China as is Li and #19 as is the new owner Guo Guangchang, is surely semantics as the amount of money both would put into a ‘mid-table’ at best Championship club would likely be the same. Not just Wolves fans are ‘living the football dream’ though…. Villa, Birmingham and Albion are all owned by new Chinese masters so we can expect to see major changes at all four with each having hopes of premier league glory and, dare we dream, european football.
But first, for Wolves at least, there’s the matter of the Championship, arguably the hardest league in the world to escape. What’s the chances of Wolves doing so this season? The bookies quote odds of 11/2 for promotion making Wolves seventh favourites behind Newcastle, Norwich, Brighton, Derby, Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday. Our next two league games are against two teams just below us in the bookies odds table; Reading (10/1) and Ipswich (9/1). It’s a good bet therefore that our results against these two teams will provide a strong indicator of our promotion chances this season. Whilst it could be argued that Wolves will pick up more points in the second half of the season and bank on a strong run-in due to the progressive benefit of manager and players settling in; the introduction of a high number of ‘warm weather’ southern european signings may play against this when the weather gets cold and wet and the football more direct.
With one league game in the bag the signs tactically are encouraging. Wolves dominating the key statistics of corners and shots at goal in their game against Rotherham. An early tip…. watch out for much more evidence of work on the training ground than in the past….Zenga has a reputation for innovation in dead ball situations a dying art at Molineux over recent years. Interestingly his reputation also extends to his tendency not to settle anywhere long. Walter Zenga’s managerial cv shows he has rarely lasted more than a few months in any of his 14 managerial jobs during the last 18 years and has achieved little tangible success. All the external signs are that he is a short term appointment and the one year contract he has signed with Wolves supports this. Maybe his brief is to build a strong promotion platform ready for a bigger managerial name to be parachuted in when available at the end of this season.
Whatever the plan, events, particularly at Molineux, tend to overtake the best laid plans. Zenga’s experience, tactical nous and dare I say it, passion may well be the managerial cocktail Wolves need. Intuitively he seems to be in tune with the Wolves faithful…the well travelled Italian’s background of international goalkeeper (58 caps), actor (in a soap show) and football pundit indicate an eventful and dramatic few months ahead. Whether Zenga remains true to his wandering instinct or spell turns into a sustained spell in the Black Country will depend greatly on how the new transfer signings gel with the existing Molineux squad, the next instalment of which starts with the game against Reading romorrow. Wolves to win for me 2-1.