Wolverhampton Wanderers embark on their first European campaign in 39 years this season.
The club hopes to negotiate the qualifying phase and rub shoulders with Europe’s elite in the Europa League - but that doesn’t mean they’ll take their eyes off the Premier League.
After a sterling first season back in the top flight Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo continues to strive for improvement. It’s been quiet on the transfer front with no new faces as of yet, but Wolves’ squad is already packed with quality.
Once it all kicks off - on August 11 for Wolves at Leicester City - Nuno’s side will look to at least repeat last season’s seventh place finish.
While their record against the top six was extraordinary last season, their showings against the bottom six were less so. If Wolves win the games they’re expected to win, in addition to toppling a few of the big boys, there’s no reason why they can’t upset the Premier League’s finest.
Jota (2), Gibbs-White, Allan (og).
Jimenez (x2), Bennett, Forsythe (og).
Deals to bring Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker to WV1 permanently were agreed last season but offered light relief in an otherwise depressing summer on message boards and social media.
The mood has increased still further with the news of deals for Jesus Vallejo on loan from Real Madrid and the exciting signing of Patrick Cutrone from AC Milan.
As is always the case with Wolves there’s been lots of names flying around but very little has actually been happening. Wolves still need players before the window shuts.
On paper Vallejo is a very interesting signing. The defender captained Spain U21s to European glory over the summer but he's barely featured at club level for Real Madrid in two years. He certainly has the ability to make a difference to a Wolves backline which is already very strong.
At £16million rising to £20million the Cutrone deal is win-win for Wolves. At 21 it's highly unlikely, if not impossible, that he'll lose value during his time at Wolves and if he rediscovers his early form at AC Milan the Premier League could be in for a shock.
I think Wolves will enjoy a good run in the Europa League which is why I expect them to tail off slightly in the league. I don’t think they’ll face the struggles often associated with teams who qualify for the Europa League through finishing seventh, but I don’t expect them to emulate last season’s points haul.
I had a strong inclination they’d finish seventh last season and as it happened I believe Wolves should have finished higher. But a top half finish this time around and a good run in the Europa League and FA Cup would delight fans.