Kenny Jackett believes Wolves are in for a big test as the head into a new era with an opening day trip to Preston tomorrow (3pm).
The Head Coach has been pleased with the response of his players during pre-season, but has also cautioned that what really counts is what happens in the real thing, citing the first ten games as the barometer of a start to the campaign.
And there is probably few bigger tests than an opening day trip to a Preston side who will have similar promotion ambitions under Simon Grayson.
“It’s two clubs with promotion aspirations,” said Jackett.
“It’s a big one, when you look at the size of the clubs.
“Preston have a good fanbase and a big ground, they have tradition, and, even in recent seasons, they’ve been a Championship club that has been in the play-offs many times and in and around it too.
“That’s been their standard which is a very good one.
“In the second half of last season they were one of the form teams of League One.
“They had a very good run towards the end of last year and they’ll be looking to continue that and I’m sure they’ll be trying to get promotion themselves this time.
“It’s two of the bigger clubs in League One, it’s the Football League’s 125th anniversary, and it will be played on a cracking pitch – it’s excellent,” he said.
“You look at every clip and it’s a fantastic surface at Preston.”
With Jackett looking at the first ten games as an initial guide as to the team’s performance, it is not set in stone that the eleven he picks for tomorrow’s opener will keep their place.
Standards must be maintained, otherwise players will quickly lose their place and others given an opportunity.
“It’s one game at a time and I’ll select a team for Morecambe off the back of the Preston one and the Gillingham off the first two,” he says.
“It’s an ongoing process. As a manager you like to get it right first time, but it doesn’t always happen.
“You try to keep some consistency but with injuries and suspensions, that doesn’t happen either.
“But you do want to bed it down to some sort of pattern and formula.
“Just because we’re at the start of August, everything doesn’t just step up now.
“You’re never set, and you never finish with the group you start with for one reason or another.
“It’s down to how you manage it, how the club manages it, how your squad adapts to what is a long season and a season where there’s a lot of competitions.
“Our priority is the league, but take next Tuesday, I’m not suddenly going to start making changes for changes sake because I think this team needs to get into some rhythm.
“If it was an established group, you could maybe pull five players out and put five in for the Morecambe game.
“But I don’t think we can sustain those amount of changes and then get into the type of rhythm that we want.”
Jackett continues: "I’m pleased with the way pre-season has gone because there’s been a lot of sorting out done.
“Players have come in and players out - not necessarily out of the club, but the groups have changed.
“It’s all settled down quite well and I’m looking forward now to the start of the season.
“It’s a team that’s evolving but it’s a side with balance and quality and it’s a team that has to be hungry to be successful because there are big tests and tasks for us ahead and we must have the appetite for that.”
Assessment will be ongoing during the season, particularly after those first ten games, but Jackett is also aware of the main ambition for Wolves after a disappointing two years.
Winning some football matches!
“Developing a winning mentality is important for us,” he added.
“It’s about concentrating on the young players and making sure they’re ready for League One.
“We’ve had good tests so far. I knew the Barnsley, Chesterfield and Wrexham players and staff and the tests we’d have in terms of their style.
“Real Betis was a bit different, but now we get down to the nitty-gritty of playing at our level.
“A start is 10 League games – I feel that’s a good assessment period.
“The team has fallen into place but it’s not something that stops on August 3.
“It’s an ongoing process of improvement, assessing, making the right decisions taking a 10-game period and then saying ‘right, OK, where are we? What do we need? What do we need to do and what do we need to improve on?
“That assessment is quite often a key for clubs going forward because you can’t just say on August 3, ‘right OK, we’ve got it’.
“So much can happen during the course of the season.”