Guy Mowbray has covered Wolves for Match of the Day on multiple occasions this season and enjoys each individual story of the players inside the home dressing room today.
Some of Nuno Espírito Santo’s squad are now mainstays, while others have made a big impact in a short space of time, but each player has impressed the BBC commentator, who has fondly watched the club settle impressively into the Premier League.
Guy, how impressed have you been by how Wolves have taken to the Premier League this season?
It’s been fantastic. I first saw Wolves live at Leicester earlier in the season and, although they lost the game, you could see this was a bit different from the usual team who comes up from the Championship. I saw them at United in September – a fantastic performance – I was on Final Score that day and I remember saying ‘there’s not a chance this team will go down’, they’ll be top ten. The football is Premier League standard, so I’ve not be surprised since that moment. I was lucky enough to see them early and I’ve not been surprised by the way they’ve adapted.
The squad is similar to last season, how impressed have you been with the players themselves?
I like seeing players like Conor Coady, who was basically released by Liverpool, and went down to come back up, proved himself in the lower leagues, and now finds himself not just in a three, but at the heart of it. He’s a real leader in every sense. Matt Doherty has been up and down, been at Wolves for years now, then starts scoring goals and all of a sudden everybody is saying ‘who is this?’ but he’s still the same player, believe it or not. He’s progressed with the club, so it’s nice to see.
Wolves’ midfield duo of Rúben Neves and João Moutinho have earned plaudits, how key have they been?
I’m not surprised by Rúben Neves. I was lucky enough to cover him for Porto in the Champions League when he was a teenager, before he’d come to this country. It was one of his early games and I remember being blown away. I watched him closely and his long-range strikes in the Championship last season. I’ve never been surprised by João Moutinho because he was tipped to come to the Premier League years ago and it never quite happened. He’s a Rolls-Royce of a player.
Which players have taken you by surprise in the Wolves group?
Some of the other I genuinely didn’t know have caught me. I’m thinking of Jota, I’d hardly seen anything of him until this season. Him and Jiménez, the partnership is amazing. Jonny I didn’t know anything about, Saïss and Vinagre I’d never heard of, I must admit, but they’re solid players. One of my favourite players is Adama Traoré, when he comes on I start rubbing my hands because anything can happen. The talent is incredible, the pace in incredible, you can see every time he gets the ball the fans are getting ready.
You commentated on the quarter-final of the FA Cup at Molineux, how special was that night?
The atmosphere in the sixth round of the FA Cup against Manchester United is the best I’ve encountered anywhere this season, without any doubt. I was at Spurs for the opening of their new stadium, and that was fantastic, but as a pure, raw match atmosphere, that had it all. What an occasion, what an exciting night that was.
Finally, how far has the cub come in a short space of time, since the Championship last season?
I monitored them last season without seeing them live, so this season it’s been nice to see a team come up and defy what we’re supposed to think. Yes, there are people who say: ‘they’ve got the money’, but Fulham spent money as well, all teams spend money, that’s been happening since the 1880s, when Preston were the best team because they had the most money. This is the way of the world, it’s not just football. They’re playing great football and worthy of their place.