Ahead of the trip to Molineux for the Eagles in the Friday night game, we had a chat with Thomas Baugh from Wolves Blog about last
Q. How was the 2019/20 campaign for Wolves?
Excellent really, although there’s that nagging feeling it could have been better. With a bit more luck (and a little less VAR) we probably would have got in the top four, yet somehow we managed to not even make the top six. Still, to have been in the conversation about the Champions League so close to the end of a season where we also made it to the quarter-finals of the Europa League (losing to the eventual winners) shows just how well the team performed.
Q. It will be a tough ask to better last season, but what are the hopes going into the new season?
It feels like a transitional season for the team with a few of the tried and tested players moving on to new clubs and a slightly different approach being adopted by Nuno. I would like to believe we’d still be in the top half fighting for European football and if we do that, given the increased strength of many other teams, I think we’ll have done well.
Q. How active were Wolves in the transfer window and are there any areas that will require attention in January or next summer?
Yes, there’s been quite a lot of change. Jota and Doherty left who’ve both been integral to our progress in recent years. In their place have come proven Champions League wingbacks in Semedo and Marcal and young striker Fabio Silva from Porto (for a club-record £35 million). Vitinha, another Porto import has also joined to bolster the midfield, as has Liverpool full-back Ki-Jana Hoever. Ruben Vinagre departed right at the end of the window, with Rayan Aït-Nouri coming in from Angers to replace him in the squad as cover at left-wingback. I think Wolves have now got the necessary numbers in their squad, so it’s just a case of seeing if these players perform or whether we need to look again in January.
Q. We are keen to see young players coming through the ranks here at TEB so is there anyone that we should keep an eye on who could make the breakthrough into the Wolves first eleven?
Max Kilman has been at Wolves for a good few years and has been picked in recent weeks in the back three. He’s so far proven himself to be a highly competent option in defence so long may that continue. As mentioned above, Fabio Silva is now our club-record signing and still only 18 years old, there’s now an awful lot expected of him. We’ve only seen glimpses from the bench so far.
Q. Let’s have some predictions from you for the season; Premier League Champions
Premier League – Manchester City
Champions League spots – Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United
Relegated – West Brom, Fulham, Burnley
Surprise package – Brighton
FA Cup – Manchester City
League Cup – Manchester United
Q. What are your thoughts on the return of fans to games this season?
I hope it happens of course but only when it makes sense. I’m a season ticket holder so have missed that matchday experience, but I really haven’t minded watching on the TV. It’s not forever and we’ll be back in grounds one day, so no point in rushing and risking the health of supporters.
Q. This game will be the second in a row on pay-per-view for Palace, but what are your thoughts on the decision to push fans to pay out even more money to see their team?
We got used to having all the games on either Sky, BT or free-to-air, so it was annoying to hear that wouldn’t continue, albeit not that surprising. In the longer term, I hope a service like Amazon takes things on from traditional broadcasters and provide greater flexibility in their pricing to allow for more tailored packages.
Q. Games being shown on PPV have taken a back seat following the news about Project Big Picture and the European Premier League. How do you feel about the proposals that are being made to change the future of the game once again?
I think the sport has to evolve but it has to do that in the right way. Domestically, more money has to filter down the pyramid to look after teams outside the top flight – that should be the main objective. I don’t like the idea of a European Premier League or anything that will damage the domestic game. I think we’ve got the best football setup anywhere in the world and we should maintain that at all costs, even if that means the government stepping in to stop big six clubs breaking away.
Q. What do you make of Palace ahead of the new season?
I think Palace are what they’ve been for the last couple of years – a well organised, highly competent, Premier League team. Wolves certainly haven’t had any easy games against them. I’m not sure the creativity is there in the midfield or the consistent potency in attack to do any better than midtable, but I don’t see you struggling at the bottom.
Q. Name one player from each team that you believe will be a threat to the opposition in this match.
Zaha still seems like the player to watch, which probably underlines that the team hasn’t evolved as it perhaps should have done in recent years. For Wolves, it’s got to be Raul Jimenez simply because he either scores or assists in nearly every game. Mr Consistent.
Q. …and finallly, your all important prediction?
Not usually many goals in this one so I’ll go for a 1-0 to the Wolves.