Wolves’ ever-growing loan system is going to get even stronger throughout the coming seasons, according to man who oversees the club’s players who are currently plying their trade away from Molineux, loans manager Seyi Olofinjana.
In his current role, the former midfielder travels across Europe to make sure the 24 Wolves players who are out on loan have all the right tools in place which they need to succeed.
Olofinjana also believes the success of Connor Ronan’s stint at FA DAC in Slovakia from the mid-point of last season after a couple of tough months in Walsall, demonstrates that a team’s playing style can be more beneficial to a player’s development than location.
On Wolves’ loan strategy
“The growth within the football club has been very rapid, especially in the last 12 to 18 months, and as a club, as an Academy, we need to adapt to that growth.
“We understand the football industry is such that not every player will play for their parent club; some need that development initially to go out to a different club, a different environment, and learn their trade there.
“We’ve had 24 players out on loan during the second half of the season – which is a lot – but we couldn’t just leave them too it and then see where they are at when they come back; someone needs to be making sure they have all the things they need.
“We’re not just sending them there and saying goodbye, we’re going to monitor them, we’re going to support them through the process and we’re going to help them develop.
“There is always connection of someone communicating to them; telling them what the club is thinking about them, making sure they know we value them and we’re monitoring what they’re doing, and the boys have benefited immensely from it.
“We’ll let them know when they’ve played well, when they’ve not played well, we’ll also tell them all the developmental points they need to be looking at improving, we’ll speak to the managers and the sporting directors who are also monitoring their progress – and the boys know that.”
On reasons for sending players on loan
“For a young player who’s going out for the first time, it might not be just to play football. Obviously, playing regular football will be a bonus, but it’s about going away from this beautiful environment that we’ve created here at Compton.
“Some of these boys have been here for eight to ten years and this is all they know. Now when you’re sending them to a different side and it can be a shocking experience for them at times.
“But going into that environment where you have to wash your own kit and clean your own boots, you learn life skills and you learn what it’s like to be in a first-team environment.
“A lot of our first loans are disasters because players just can’t cope in that environment, but the second loan or the third loan might be more for footballing reasons because they’ve learnt how to be in the first-team environment and then can you go on to play football, prove what you can do and prove you’re good enough to come back and play for Wolves.”
On successful loan spells this season
“Before now we have sent players out to League One or League Two sides, but the style of play doesn’t always suit the kinds of players we have, so we started looking outside the country.
“Now we’re looking at Slovakia, Poland and Belgium to give these boys an experience and to learn what it’s like to live outside of England. They can go and learn the culture, as well as going to play football, because the style of play at these clubs suits a lot of the players we are recruiting.
“Connor Ronan is a great example. He’s now in Slovakia and playing 90 minutes every week, winning man of the match awards and it’s working well for him.
“While an example of a player who used his first loan as a chance to go into a new environment and cope with all the new things that they have to take on board was Bright Enobakhare. He is now playing great at Coventry but initially went to Kilmarnock at the start of the season and didn’t play, but he learnt a lot.
“Bright came back in January, we sent him to Coventry and it’s been unbelievable since then – he’s played 18 games, scored six goals, and is now the best player in the team in my opinion.”
On the future of Wolves’ loan system
“I think it’s only going to get better because the plans that we’re producing now are saying to people in the loan market that Wolves are doing something special.
“As a football club and with the under-23s gaining promotion this season, it shows that we have some very good players at the club and it’s going to be a bit of a role reversal.
“Back in the day we used to knock on the door of clubs and ask if they can take this player, but now people are coming to us because they want our players. We’re in the driving seat and can ask them the right questions to make sure the players are going to the right clubs for them and it can only get better.”