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Can Wolverhampton Wanderers continue success after promotion?
12 January 2018, 12:54
Can Wolverhampton Wanderers continue success after promotion?

Since July 2016, Wolverhampton Wanderers have been on an upward trajectory that no other English Championship side has ever seen. Chinese conglomerate Fosun International purchased the club and began to transform the lonely West Midlands team into an English powerhouse.

There were some hiccups between the team's purchase and now. Mostly due to the club's new owners needing some time to get the right personnel into place. Fosun has done just that and Wolves have gone from a team of loveable losers into a club that has the potential to rival the Premier League's upper-crust.

Shi and his colleagues put the first wheels in motion a season ago, and the groundwork laid has reaped unbelievable results. Sure, Wolves have spent cash. The club has spent over £24 million in the summer and winter transfer windows this season. For a second division side, it is an incredible amount of money. But the team's ambitions are far greater than the Championship.

Sure, success can be bought, and that may be the only true way to create a Premier League champion. Of course, Leicester seems to be the exception. But the money hasn't been the only thing that has made Wolverhampton Wanderers the best team in the league.

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo has been a breath of fresh air. The Portuguese manager is cut from a very different cloth than his fellow Championship coaches. Rather than hire the same old Championship manager that moves from team to team, Wolves thought outside the box; a novel concept in the world of the Championship. Santo cut his teeth coaching at Malaga, Valencia, Porto, Rio Ave and Panathinaikos. At just 43, Santo has managed in four different countries and his experience working in these environments has shown just how boring and complacent the managers of the Championship are.

Santo brought in players he was familiar with, and Wolves were able to offer them more money than their previous clubs thanks to Fosun's financial might. Defensive midfielder Ruben Neves arrived from Porto for more than £17m. The Portuguese player has tallied three goals in 25 games, and averages two tackles and 1.8 interceptions. Neves is a Premier League player, but right now he is excelling for Wolves.

Leading scorer Leo Bonatini (12 goals this term) was a piece of excellent scouting by the club. The Brazilian had been playing in the Portuguese league before leaving for Saudi Arabian team Al Hilal. His performances have been stellar, but Wolves didn't rest on their laurels with Bonatini. The club signed Spanish striker Rafa Mir in January, and the 20-year-old is expected to be the team's No. 9 when it kicks off the Premier League season in August 2018.

The biggest question now is, as promotion is almost certain at this point, will Wolves become a powerhouse in the Premier League? The simple answer from looking at this season is yes. Fosun has shown interest in spending large sums of money on quality players. There is no reason that the club won't continue to spend money to build a strong team in the Premier League. Of course, there will be growing pains. Next season, Wolves will need to find their feet in the league, and determine if the Portuguese revolution that has led them to the top of the Championship can cut it in the top-flight. Santo will also need to prove he can guide a team to success in the Premier League. Obviously, he can, but Shi and Wolves' executives may have less patience if the team struggles early. The worst thing success in the Championship can breed is overextended expectations for next season once the club makes the step up.

Wolves are on the rise. The club is destined for the Premier League, and greater heights could be reached if investment is continued in the coming years. A mid-table Premier League finish in 2018-19 would be a good start for Wolves. After a year under their belts, Wolverhampton Wanderers can establish themselves as more than just a promoted side.

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Regular Season
OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. Wolverhampton 99 46 30 9 7 82 39 43
2. Cardiff City 90 46 27 9 10 69 39 30
3. Fulham FC 88 46 25 13 8 79 46 33
4. Aston Villa 83 46 24 11 11 72 42 30
5. Middlesbrough 76 46 22 10 14 67 45 22
6. Derby County 75 46 20 15 11 70 48 22
7. Preston NE 73 46 19 16 11 57 46 11
8. Millwall FC 72 46 19 15 12 56 45 11
9. Brentford FC 69 46 18 15 13 62 52 10
10. Sheffield Utd 69 46 20 9 17 62 55 7
11. Bristol City 67 46 17 16 13 67 58 9
12. Ipswich Town 60 46 17 9 20 57 60 -3
13. Leeds United 60 46 17 9 20 59 64 -5
14. Norwich City 60 46 15 15 16 49 60 -11
15. Sheffield Wed 57 46 14 15 17 59 60 -1
16. QPR 56 46 15 11 20 58 70 -12
17. Nottingham F. 53 46 15 8 23 51 65 -14
18. Hull City 49 46 11 16 19 70 70 0
19. Birmingham City 46 46 13 7 26 38 68 -30
20. Reading FC 44 46 10 14 22 48 70 -22
21. Bolton Wanderers 43 46 10 13 23 39 74 -35
22. Barnsley 41 46 9 14 23 48 72 -24
23. Burton Albion 41 46 10 11 25 38 81 -43
24. Sunderland 37 46 7 16 23 52 80 -28

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