Are Wolves Successfully Filling The Void
Stan Cullis didn’t seem to agree with them but Bill McGarry didn’t want a summer to pass without one. So were the modern-day Wolves in danger of being slightly under-cooked for the start of the Premier League season?
They pulled out of their initial far-reaching overseas tour and have since been playing catch-up to add fixtures back into their schedule.
And a look down the list of where top-flight clubs are playing their warm-up games underlines the point that Julen Lopetegui’s players were out of step until bolstering their pre-season programme and arranging a second trip to the Algarve.
Nottingham Forest, for example, have had a training camp in Valencia, complete with two matches, and, not long after touching down in the East Midlands, will be stepping aboard again for one-off fixtures in Eindhoven and Frankfurt.
West Ham, clearly fortified rather than jaded by their Conference League heroics, are travelling further and just as often, following up wins over Perth Glory and Tottenham in Western Australia with visits to Rennes and Leverkusen on the final two Saturdays before the campaign starts.
And newly-promoted Burnley are playing games in four different countries in the space of a fortnight (Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Germany) in the countdown to 2023-24.
Reducing the nation’s carbon footprint isn’t a top priority for football clubs and Arsenal, Villa, Brentford, Brighton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Manchester United and Newcastle all have games in America this summer while Liverpool, Manchester City, Spurs (and Leicester) are spending time in Asia.
Wolves were to have headed east also, only for the plug to be pulled on their matches against Celtic and Roma amid worries over the reliability of the promoters, and assessment whether their training matches against Vitoria Guimares and Farense, plus more competitive outings against Celtic, Luton, Stades Rennais and now Porto successfully fill the gap.
The fact that Portugal and Ireland were chosen to stage four of those games underlines that this is by no means a stay-at-home build-up but it clearly isn’t the one the club had originally chosen – and presumably won’t be as lucrative as it should have been.
Multi-game trips are the norm for overseas visits at this time of year, with the squad overseen by Sammy Chung playing as many as six when covering large expanses of Scandinavia in both 1977 and 1978.
That tiring itinerary was dwarfed by the expeditions undertaken by sides managed by Cullis and McGarry in previous decades but that earlier era tended to be marked more by end-of-season tours than pre-season ones.
Twelve of the incredible 14 overseas fixtures Wolves fulfilled in the summer of 1972 came before the players were given some weeks off and there were no fewer than 12 matches on the end-of-season trip to South Africa in 1951.