Who Would Have Thought It?

Festive Drama With A Gold And Black Tint

Nuno Espirito Santo – it still looks odd seeing him in festive red and white!

Some Christmas story this has already been – and Wolves’ continuing part in it has the potential to create more drama at Brentford tonight.

It started for us with a dramatic home victory over Chelsea in only the second ever Premier League fixture to be played on Christmas Eve.

But, from the southern tip of the country to the far north, the festive top-flight programme has provided so many Wolves-related talking points in games contested between other clubs.

As you would expect, a man with a long greying beard has been prominent – not Santa Claus, in this case, but Nuno Espirito Santo. His return to Midlands football began unhappily with the hugely controversial first-half sending-off of Willy Boly against Bournemouth at the weekend but quickly improved with his overseeing of Nottingham Forest’s Boxing Day win at Newcastle.

Boly was twice red-carded while a Wolves player – at Manchester City and Everton – and was not the only highly familiar face when the new head coach checked in a few days before Christmas. Another of his inherited players was Morgan Gibbs-White, who was little used at Molineux but now a dressing-room leader following his big-money move across the Midlands in August, 2022.  

Did someone mention Bournemouth? It seems a while now since we heard so many supporters and pundits stating the opinion that Gary O’Neil was sacked prematurely by them. He surely was but what a job his successor is doing!

Andoni Iraola was considered by some to be out of his depth as the club failed to win any of their first nine League games but they are now unbeaten in seven, victorious in their last four and, in many ways, the team of the moment.

Taking centre stage in yesterday’s 3-0 home win over Fulham was Alex Scott, the former Bristol City midfielder whose signature they secured in the summer window as Wolves missed out while locking into an extremely worrying departures-only round of transfer business.

And what value Raul Jimenez suddenly seems to have to Fulham. Having failed to score in his first 12 matches for the Londoners (he did net three times across two autumn friendlies for Mexico), he bounced back to good club form with four goals in five matches.

As that spree included successive 5-0 thrashings of Nottingham Forest and West Ham, Match of the Day analysis of Marco Silva’s side’s defeat at Bournemouth yesterday contained the view that the suspended striker was now being badly missed, his sending-off at Newcastle coming at the start of a run of three consecutive emphatic League defeats.

Adama Traore has still started only one Fulham game – and gone on as substitute in four others – and there was a rare glimpse of Leander Dendoncker in the first post-Christmas Day action.

His start for Villa at Manchester United was his first anywhere in the 2023-24 Premier League and he marked the occasion with a goal in his club’s second stumble in a row in the race near the top.

Another of Nuno’s go-to Molineux men, Diogo Jota, was among the headline-makers in the win at Burnley that took Liverpool top of the table 24 hours ago. His clinching goal near the end of his comeback game following a month on the injured list was his 50th for the club.

Rob Edwards – looking increasingly assured on the Premier League stage.

And how can we close this piece without giving a generous mention to Rob Edwards, who turned 41 on Christmas Day?

As if the former Wolves defender and coach hadn’t earned enough admiration both for his work in taking Luton to promotion last spring and then with his conduct during the challenging Tom Lockyer traumas, he has now overseen back-to-back Premier League victories that have significantly raised their hopes of staying in the division.

Former Wolves youngster Ryan Giles went on for half the game against Newcastle at the weekend and then played the first three-quarters of the thriller at Sheffield United.

 

 

 

 

 

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