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How do Wolves avoid ‘second season syndrome?’

There can be no doubt that Nuno Espírito Santo’s side has defied all expectations this past season. Impressive victories over Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal – and away to Tottenham, despite facing odds of as much as 20/1 against before December’s Wembley win – proved just how much of a force Wolves can be when backed by their raucous fanbase.

Santo’s ability to motivate his troops for the biggest matches is one of his greatest assets. So impressive has this season been that, as of March 2019, Santo was priced at as little as 4/1 to take over from Maurizio Sarri as the Chelsea boss, with Sarri still under much scrutiny after only just guiding his team to the Europa League final.

Wolves eliminating Liverpool in the F.A. Cup en-route to the semi-finals was another 2018/19 highlight.

Wolves – less than 20/1 to drop in two-fronted battle

While there’s no doubt that Wolves prepare themselves for the biggest occasions, it’s the traditionally ‘lesser’ games where they have been prone to a slip-up.

The ‘best of the rest’ in the Premier League dropped points away to all seven of the lowest ranked sides in the league and most gallingly suffered a league double of defeats to hopeless Huddersfield, who became only the second Premier League side ever to be officially relegated in March.

Like many other teams to enjoy an excellent first season in a top-flight run, Wolves are highly vulnerable to ‘second season syndrome’ and this vulnerability is redoubled by physically-demanding Europa League commitments. Every rival manager in the league now knows that Santo typically sets his side up to absorb pressure, and then burst into life when the opportunity arises.

This is something that is rather difficult when the opposition has no interest in retaining possession or using it wisely. Indeed, Wolves’ primary weakness is not lost on the most reputable bookmakers listed at free bet UK, who are currently offering free bets of up to £100.

They are priced at as little as 17/1 to go down to the Championship in 2019/20 by said bookmakers, and Santo must take a diverse approach to the transfer window if he is to maintain Wolves’ excellent form and avoid the shortening of those odds.

Ten minutes of apparent Wolves target Joao Felix showing his class.

Wolves #4 favourites at 6/1 to sign Portuguese star

With the potential to exploit the club’s Portuguese links, Benfica’s Joao Felix should be at the top of Nuno’s wishlist – though the 19-year-old would command a hefty fee. Wolves are fourth-favourites (at as little as 6/1) to sign him, but he is already attracting elite interest following his impressive Europa League performances in 2018/19.

At present, Manchester City, PSG and Juventus are all ahead of Wolves in the transfer stakes, with the latter club just 13/8 to sign the young upstart.

LOSC Lille’s Nicolas Pepe is another man rumoured to have piqued the interest of Santo. The highly-rated Ivory Coast international has 20 goals, which has seen him attracting attention from across the continent. Wolves are also said to be interested in Liverpool youngster Rafa Camacho, who would ‘prefer’ to join Wolves over a return to Sporting Lisbon.

Essentially, to avoid falling victims of ‘second season syndrome’, Wolves’ fate will be reliant on their strength in depth and their ability to stick to the footballing philosophy that Santo has instilled in his players. After all, you don’t fix something that “ain’t broke” – and Wolverhampton Wanderers have just had their best season since 1980.