I’m in shock. I was going to write a piece this weekend analysing what ‘went wrong’ this year at Wolves, but that no longer seems appropriate—at least, not in the short term.
Nuno is leaving. The Bearded Portuguese Messiah who united our club in a way very few managers have ever done and not only led us back to the promised land of the Premier League but also to our best ever Premier League finish and best top-flight finish since 1980—twice—and a run in European competition for the first time since 1981, is leaving.
The announcement this lunchtime came completely out of the blue. Nuno had even given his weekly pre-match press conference that morning and it wasn’t even hinted at. I was driving at the time and the alert popped up on my watch. I glanced at it but didn’t really take it in. I changed the radio over to talksport in the hope they’d mention it but I was nearly home by the time they did, at which point I’d been able to quickly check the notifications on my phone in its cradle while in a queue of traffic.
This really does feel like the end of an era—especially with the club announcing the new kit deal with Castore this morning too, which feels like the start of a new era. Something in my gut tells me this has been planned for some time and that both the club and Nuno were waiting for the right time to announce it. And this does feel like the right time with the fans back in Molineux to give him a good send-off.
I have a feeling that this is the right decision for both parties. Nuno has not looked happy this year and I’m certain the club haven’t been satisfied with performances on the pitch. I think it will come out that Nuno just needs a break. The media are already linking him with Spurs & I’ve seen him linked with Celtic too, but the man has missed his family—that’s been widely reported—if I were in his shoes I’d take a season-long break and spend it with the people I love.
I don’t think this is something the club would have done without having a plan in place for a replacement though—that’s something that Fosun has done in the past with replacements for Kenny Jackett, Walter Zenga and Paul Lambert. Our club’s owners are serious people, and they don’t mess about. I think we can safely ignore the “early betting” linking names like Eddie Howe & Scott Parker to the job—Fosun are aiming high—to take the club forward and upwards—and you don’t do that by appointing managers who’ve been relegated in the past two years. I would imagine it’ll be someone linked to Mendes and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me to see Lopetegui rock up at Molineux—which was the original plan when Fosun took over but for him being offered the Spain job instead.
But who knows, right? Wolves have always kept their cards close to their chest and that’s been even more the case under Fosun. We’ll have to wait and see.
I still plan to do my look back over Wolves 2020/21 season, but I’ll leave it a week or so now. Instead, this weekend I’ll try and write something paying tribute to a man who came to our club and transformed it. Thank You, Nuno. And best wishes.