Kevin Doyle on Wolves’ season so far and Sunday’s game v Leicester
Wolves’ Premier League adventure continues when they make the short trip to Leicester on Sunday. Like the Foxes, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men may fancy their chances of a top-six or top-four finish this season, with many of the traditional ‘big clubs’ enduring some early-season struggles.
Ahead of Sunday’s clash, we sought the view of former Wolves striker and now Ladbrokes Football ambassador Kevin Doyle, to get his thoughts on how his old side are getting on…
On Leicester v Wolves
I can see this one being a 2-2 draw. I think there’ll be goals all over this game, but the two are very equally matched clubs when you look at the players they have at their disposal.
It’s hard to pick between them. Both will be aiming for that fourth position in the league, and they’re both great to watch.
I like both managers but I do prefer Nuno Espirito Santo. Brendan Rodgers just keeps Leicester up there – I thought he might have struggled when he came back to the Premier League but he hasn’t – he’s proven people wrong.
On Wolves’ season so far
I still think they have an outside chance of making the top four. They’ve spent wisely, it’s a great squad. They weren’t a million miles off it last season and I don’t think they will be this time out.
Last season I think they had a better chance, but I don’t see them being outside the top six – which is amazing to be saying when you look at where they were a few years ago.
But they’re so good to watch, I really enjoy listening to the manager speak and the players – as good as they are – they all just seem like such a humble bunch.
They go about their business, they play and they win games. And it’s what Wolves fans have deserved for a long time – for putting up with us!
Realistically I think they’ll be in the top six, and if everything went their way, then they could be in the top four.
I got on well with the fans, I had a great reception when I eventually left the club. I haven’t actually been back for a while but I left on a good note. Results aside at times, I really enjoyed my time at the club.
It’s a fantastic club. I don’t know, maybe they wouldn’t get on with me, but I definitely get on with all of the fans at Wolves.
The last player still on their books from my time there would’ve been Matt Doherty up until this summer. There’s no one there anymore.
I was looking earlier this week and it’s completely changed now – even behind the scenes I think all the physios have all changed now and everything has moved on, but that’s football.
I left the club in the summer of 2015 and I think Conor Coady came in just after me. He’s been excellent. The way Wolves play and his role in the formation, I don’t think there’s a better English defender out there than him right now.
It was a surprise to see him in that position at first but he’s just gone with it and he’s been brilliant. His ability defensively, you know, he’s not going around the pitch smashing players.
He’s not an especially hard tackler, but to me he looks like he’s got a really good positional sense. And on the ball, as well, playing out from the back, he’s perfect and it’s amazing how they’ve integrated him into that role. He looks like he’s been playing there all his life.
You can always strengthen your side. For Wolves, it’s going to cost money. It’s not going to be easy to improve. They’ve got themselves to a certain point now where it’s probably going to cost around £60m to improve any one position drastically.
I think they could maybe strengthen in depth without spending a fortune, though. Every position is very strong, but if Ruben Neves gets injured or if Raul Jimenez is out, then they could probably do with a couple of other options.
I’d say maybe they could sign another centre-forward but you’d have to spend big and that signing isn’t going to get in ahead of Jimenez. It’s like Tottenham a few years ago, they had such a strong starting XI, it’s tough to bring players in who aren’t going to be put straight into the first-team.
You wondered when they first came back into the Premier League exactly what the story was. With Jorge Mendes in charge of things arranging all of the signings, were they just going to become a feeder team for the bigger sides in the league?
It hasn’t turned out that way – if that was the case then Neves would’ve gone and Jimenez wouldn’t have signed on. But such is the position Wolves have established now, there are only a couple of clubs you’d consider a ‘step up’.
Matt Doherty going to Tottenham Hotspur last summer, was that really a step up from Wolves right now? I don’t know. Short-term, maybe. But long-term, probably not.
Wolves are such a big club. Great fans, a big stadium, excellent training ground. It’s a great place to play and apart from the likes of Liverpool or Manchester City, they’re as big a club as any other in the country at the minute.
On back-to-back relegations with Wolves
Obviously it wasn’t nice. You saw the documentary on Sunderland, it wasn’t anywhere near that bad. There wasn’t as much mayhem.
We went through a lot of managers, a lot of players came and went but the club still functioned well. There was always a lot of good people around.
It wasn’t chopping and changing hands ownership-wise. I always knew they were going to come back. Obviously you’d never have guessed they’d be where they are today so quickly.
Obviously the amount of money they’ve been able to spend has helped, but still, that’s not everything. It doesn’t guarantee success. They’ve done it well, signed some brilliant players and have a fantastic manager at the moment – he’s really impressive.
They’ve got a lot of things right. At the time when we were in League One we were still getting things right – it wasn’t as bad as you might imagine. It was still a good place to be.
The atmosphere was great even in League One, Wolves is a massive club so there were still plenty of people coming to the games. It was more of a shock to the players.
We were used to playing in the Premier League and the Championship and then all of a sudden we’re playing at grounds we’d never played at before. But we always had great support from the fans.
I wasn’t there for the full extent of it but I only have good memories with the fans. We got criticism as a team at times, and rightly so, we got plenty of it.
We were professional players not performing to their expectations so you had to accept it. It wouldn’t have been the ideal way of doing it but in hindsight it’s done the club well because look at where they are now.
It just goes to show for anyone that there’s nothing that can’t be fixed, nothing that can’t be solved, nothing that can’t be turned around.
On Netflix’s fly-on-the-wall series
I wouldn’t have wanted cameras around the place at Wolves when we went down. Listen, it’s great to sit back and watch, but no, I don’t think it helps anyone at all.
I suppose we’re just not used to it. In America you see that sort of thing a lot more; it’s normal, but we’re not used to it over here. I don’t like it. It’s not right to air all of that stuff in public.
Things happen in the heat of the moment and they’re only really good shows when they’re a disaster. No one wants to watch a team doing well. I don’t think it did Sunderland any favours at all.
I won’t name any names but having spoken to a few players there, they hated it. It just compounded what they were going through. Listen, it’s hard enough as a player when things aren’t going well but to then have to go and sit down in front of a camera to speak about it again, I don’t think it was good for them at all.