Taking a keen interest in the fortunes of Wolves, Michael Owen is enjoying the style of football being played by Nuno Espirito Santo’s side since the arrival of the Portuguese coach.
The former England striker, who has several friends of a Wolves persuasion due to his racehorse ownership as well as years living in nearby Lilleshall, was part of the Amazon Prime Video team as the old gold took down Manchester City in December, and gave wolves.co.uk his thoughts on the current set-up at Molineux.
On the rise of Wolves
“They’re brilliant. Wolves have been fantastic this season. They’ve been fantastic since they’ve been in the Premier League, to be fair.
“They’ve got some great players and all neutrals really like the way they play, the way they go about it, with fantastic players and a very passionate crowd.
“For a number of years, I lived not too far away from Wolverhampton down at Lilleshall, so I know quite a lot of Wolves fans. I’ve got my stables near Whitchurch, in Malpas, where there are also a lot of Wolves fans who are owners. We also have a lot of runners down at Dunstall [Park], so I spend a lot of time around Wolves fans.
“I feel I have a bit of a link with the club, and although I wouldn’t say they’re my second team, I always take a keen interest in their results, but I think everyone has grown to like the way the club has gone about their business.”
On Nuno improving players
“He has it good here. Wolves have got a very good following at Molineux, the fans are very vocal and very supportive of the team.
“They came up from the Championship with money to spend, but they’ve taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. Their record against the top six last season was staggering, they’ve beaten Manchester City home and away this season, they’ve got really talented players – which always helps.
“You can be a great manager, but you do need talented players, and Wolves have got that. It’s a unique club, the way they do their transfer business, and I think they’re really proud of the way they improve players as well, especially Traore.
“If you look at the players Wolves have, you can’t really name too many who haven’t been value for money, players who have not got better under the stewardship of Nuno, and that’s one of the keys to management – if you can make players better, you’re halfway there.”
On the immergence of Adama Traore
“I think we are seeing the best of Traore now, and who’s to say we’re not going to see more of him – that’s certainly the plan at the club. He’s the type of person who wants to improve. He’s almost like a project, can you get more out of him.
“Last season, it was very much a lack of end product; he was running into cul-de-sacs, he was giving the ball away with a poor first touch, he was lashing at chances, and it was poor end product in general.
“But this season, he’s a completely different animal, and Nuno should take great credit for this. He’s now slowing himself down, taking touches and putting in the killer pass or shot.
“If you have the attributes that he has, i.e. raw pace and real strength, then you really just need to fine tune your game in other areas and you can be a real potent threat – and that’s what Traore now is, he’s going to scare any team.”
On attacking threat of Raul Jimenez
“I suppose he’s not the type of striker you would see coming from abroad into the Premier League as he’s almost like a stereotypical English centre-forward.
“Nowadays as a striker in the Premier League, you’ve got to be lightning quick and have all the attributes which go alongside it, and although he’s not necessarily the quickest, he has a great touch, a great presence and knows where the net is.
“He was a massive investment for Wolves, to spend that type of money for someone of his age – I think he’s 28 – but he’s certainly paying them back. He’s a class act and certainly one of the better centre-forwards in the league.”
On meeting with Jeff Shi
“I sat down with the chairman for about an hour to talk about the club, and I found everything Jeff told me to be really interesting.
“Obviously, the club is a business at the end of the day, and they want to leave Wolves with a good footing and do well, and that would mean a very good football team. These things always go hand-in-hand in the business world when a club wants to be successful.
“There’s been a huge progression in the club during the past three seasons, and you never know where the club could go.
“They have big backers, talented players out on the pitch, so you never know where it could go, but it’s certainly great to have Wolves in the Premier League, and they already feel like a permanent fixture, and will hopefully be one of the better teams for years to come.”
To hear more thoughts on Wolves from TV pundits, see below.