Have ‘Little Old Wolves’ learned how to play like one of the big boys?

So after so long waiting for football to return, it’s now back and being served to us almost every single day of the week, like a trip to the local All You Can Eat buffet.

And let’s be honest, it cannot have gone much better for Wolves since Project Restart was initiated. Three victories against mediocre (maybe a generous term) opposition with minimal fuss and drama. Four goals, none conceded. Two goals for Raul Jimenez and the sheer presence of Adama Traore causing defenders backsides to twitch up and down the country.

On a personal level however, what has pleased me the most is the manner of the victories. Ok, so there might not have been any 3-0 or 4-0 routs in there, but to allow West Ham, Bournemouth and Aston Villa just one shot on target inside the 18 yard box is extremely impressive work.

Whilst watching the Villa game on Saturday, it suddenly hit me: we now look like a “Big” team. By this, I don’t mean in terms of history, level of support or anything like that. I am talking about a team that can dispatch inferior opposition without seemingly breaking a sweat. Think back to Jose Mourinho’s first spell as Chelsea manager and you can see that his results were littered with 1-0 and 2-0 victories. In 2004/05 they managed to keep 25 clean sheets from 38 games, a staggering effort.

Whilst I’m not quite ready to put the likes of Romain Saiss at the same level as John Terry or Ricardo Carvalho just yet, seven clean sheets in eight games is unheard of for a Wolves team in my lifetime. On top of that, everybody not associated with Wolves enjoys using the famous narrative from last season, that we loved to upset the big sides whilst floundering against the basement dwellers.

It has been really good to see the progress made on this over the past two years. Against the three relegated sides last season, Wolves picked up seven points from eighteen. This included two humiliating defeats against Huddersfield Town, including giving the hapless Jan Siewert the only win of his Premier League managerial career.

Fast forward to the 2019/20 campaign and the change in this respect has been tremendous. At the time of writing, Wolves had picked up all eighteen points available against the current bottom three (Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City). That has put Wolves eleven points up already on last season, and provides such a boost as to where the club can go.

The bigger (or perhaps a more suitable word here is better) teams go on to win trophies and championships because they don’t slip up versus the poor teams and get the job done, often with a level of control and organisation seen a la Mourinho’s Chelsea, or Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. This appears to be a talent that Wolves have learned over the course of this elongated season, and one that has left them with a realistic chance of fighting for a Champions League berth come Matchday 38 at Stamford Bridge.

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