Jermaine Jenas has praised the way Wolves are being ran off the pitch which has coincided with the ‘phenomenal’ football which has been played on it.
The former Tottenham and Newcastle midfielder was at Molineux on Monday night as he commentated on Wolves FA Cup win over Liverpool for Match of the Day.
Jenas, who was a member of England’s 2006 World Cup squad, admits he is not surprised at how Wolves have taken to life in the Premier League after following Nuno Espirito Santo’s team in the Championship last season.
On Wolves ‘off the pitch’
“What I hope for Wolves is that they take things steady. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will move quick, and although people might think they want it to move quick, sometimes when it happens it’s a little but too quick for everybody.
“You start to see a lot of bodies move out the door and more bodies coming in and we’ve seen it with Fulham, from a playing perspective, what a negative impact it can have.
“Wolves have always had top facilities; a great training ground, a fantastic stadium, so the foundation of the club is great and it’s all there.
“From being around the club, hearing where this club wants to go and what they want to be, they have huge ambitions. But Manchester City have proved to everybody that it can be done.
“If Wolves’ ambitions are to get into the Champions League and break into that top six, then I think there is a way of doing it, but it does involve spending a lot of money and it also involved less ‘heart’ – they have to be cutthroat.
“To get to this stage and where Wolves want to be at, I hope they do it bit-by-bit and do it in the right way. It will also put less pressure on the players and the manager. Let’s not start going crazy on things, as all that does is put more pressure on the manager.”
On performances this season
“Considering how they came up last year, I think Nuno would be delighted with how the team have continued their form, stuck to their beliefs, and continue to play the way they feel is the right way to play.
“It’s obviously exciting for the fans, and I think they are doing well, despite – I believe – they don’t seem to have that cutting edge at the top end of the pitch which I feel will be an improvement to the team.
“Apart from that, every player in that squad looks like a Premier League player, obviously there are a few in there who are genuinely top players anyway, but everybody who has come up with the side have shown they belong in the league.
“The only downside is the performances at home. From what I saw in the Championship, Molineux was crazy last year and there have been a few disappointing results – Palace the latest one for example and there’s also the Huddersfield game, which was strange – but against the top six, Wolves have been phenomenal.
“Take Spurs away; you had a feeling watching the game that Wolves could do something. They seem to play better on the counter attack, whether that might be a factor as well, as teams come to Molineux and know how dangerous Wolves can be, so they don’t leave any space and sit off.
“That’s what happens when you come up against ‘lesser’ sides and Wolves have to find a way to break those teams down.”
On coming into the Premier League
“I’m not surprised one bit by how Wolves have adapted. You can tell sometimes in the Championship by the way teams play, Bournemouth did it when they came up a certain way.
“Fulham have shocked a few because they’ve not been able to continue their form – spending all that money and having to try and re-do what they did successfully last season.
“I watched quite a bit of Wolves last season and never for a second did I think they would struggle in the Premier League. They play in the right way, they’ve got good players, they have a defence which can tighten up when they need to.
“Wolves will be fine and that’s what it should all be about in your first season back in the Premier League, and hopefully they can have a good cup run as well.”
On Nuno’s system
“It obviously gives him the strength and flexibility he feels is needed in his side to maintain possession and gain width within the team, which he gets bags of with Jonny and Doherty – going down that right-hand side, he’s been sensational this year.
“That’s what you’re looking for as a manager, you look for areas on the pitch which you can dominate by overloading, and Wolves get that in midfield with this system, whether it’s Coady coming up and dictating play from a defensive position, or whether Nuno overloads further up the pitch like he does when he plays Moutinho or Gibbs-White as an extra body in midfield, rather than playing with the three up top. Those little additions there allows him to play with the system a little bit.
“He’s stuck with it, which is great, but now the task for Nuno will be figuring out how to put teams to bed and how to cope with these ‘lesser’ sides.”
On Morgan Gibbs-White
“It’s Morgan’s first breakthrough season, he’s not starting regularly yet, playing bits and pieces, but he will be learning a lot as he goes along.
“From what I have seen he’s a talent, a real talent, and I wouldn’t pick any better places for him to be in the Premier League right now.
“He’s at a great place to make that breakthrough into a first-team player, but obviously that danger is if the club does start chucking loads of money at things, what happens to your little jewels? Those little talents that you’ve got here at Wolves, in players like Morgan Gibbs-White.
“If you look across the top sides in England right now, a lot of what they are as a football club comes from them having great academies and developing good young players.
“If that’s Chelsea developing them and selling them on, Spurs bringing them through, United bringing them through, there is a core group of teams up there who rely heavily on their youth academy and it also gives you that better, rounded package of a football club.
“Things are being done right here, they’re not just throwing money at things. There’s an organic process going on in the background, which gives you the feeling of ‘I like that club even more’.
“It’s important Wolves keep paying attention to that, and for someone like Morgan I think next year he will be a key feature in this team because he’s young, good on the ball, energetic and it will be a good point for him to kick on.”
Other footballing stars and BBC pundits who have had their say on Wolves’ season so far include: