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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.

Regular Season
OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. Norwich City 43 21 13 4 4 38 24 14
2. Leeds United 42 21 12 6 3 35 18 17
3. West Bromwich 39 22 11 6 5 46 31 15
4. Sheffield Utd 37 22 11 4 7 35 26 9
5. Derby County 37 21 11 4 6 31 24 7
6. Middlesbrough 36 21 9 9 3 23 14 9
7. Nottingham F. 34 21 8 10 3 32 22 10
8. Aston Villa 32 21 8 8 5 41 32 9
9. Birmingham City 30 21 7 9 5 30 25 5
10. Stoke City 30 21 7 9 5 27 25 2
11. Blackburn Rovers 30 21 7 9 5 27 31 -4
12. Swansea City 29 21 8 5 8 25 23 2
13. Bristol City 29 21 8 5 8 25 24 1
14. QPR 28 21 8 4 9 25 31 -6
15. Preston NE 25 21 6 7 8 32 35 -3
16. Wigan Athletic 25 21 7 4 10 23 29 -6
17. Sheffield Wed 24 21 6 6 9 27 38 -11
18. Brentford FC 22 21 5 7 9 33 32 1
19. Hull City 21 21 5 6 10 21 30 -9
20. Rotherham 21 21 4 9 8 21 32 -11
21. Millwall FC 19 21 4 7 10 26 35 -9
22. Reading FC 18 21 4 6 11 26 34 -8
23. Bolton Wanderers 18 21 4 6 11 15 29 -14
24. Ipswich Town 11 21 1 8 12 17 37 -20

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