Wolves Desperate To Rediscover That Winning Formula Under Cloud Of Scrutiny
Wolves will be desperate to rediscover that winning formula this week as they look to bounce back against Reading and Burton Albion following on from their heavy 4-1 defeat to rivals Aston Villa on Saturday. The Championship leaders lost for the sixth time in the league this season against Villa and they have taken just five points from their last five games.
At one stage, it seemed the race for the Championship crown looked all but finished and it was just a question of how many points will Wolves win it by. But with just one win in five, Wolves are in danger of losing their grip on the Championship and instead being sucked into a play-off fight.
Wolves have taken all the plaudits this season and rightfully so. A combination of British steel and Portuguese flair has blown away much of the Championship. 43-year-old Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo has fashioned a real feel-good factor around Molineux this season, but off-the-pitch question marks have recently arisen in relation to the involvement of Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes.
A subsidiary of Fosun, the Wolves owners, own shares in Mendes’s agency. Several of his clients are meanwhile on the books of the Championship leaders, including manager Nuno Espirito Santo and highly rated ex-Porto midfielder Ruben Neves. Neves signed for Wolves last summer for £18m under a cloud of mystery, having been linked with the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal the year before. Wolves now have no less than seven Portuguese players within the squad and it is believed that several rival clubs have voiced their concerns over Mendes’s influence.
Most notably, Leeds owner Andrea Radrizanni launched an astounding attack on Wolves' links with Mendes, describing it as "not legal". Thereafter, Villa Chief Executive Keith Wyness further added fuel to the fire by tweeting a link to a story about Paul Lambert's sacking by Wolves last summer. It had been previously reported that Lambert's departure was claimed to have been triggered by his concerns over Mendes's influence. Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani has followed on from his comments by writing to the FA, EFL and Premier League asking for clarification on the link between Wolves and agent Jorge Mendes.
As a result, the EFL released a statement confirming plans to meet with Wolves in order to reiterate the rules with regards to third-party ownership. The statement read “At its meeting today the EFL board considered at length the matter of the relationship between Wolverhampton Wanderers, majority shareholder of the club, Fosun and Jorge Mendes, in light of the recent concerns raised by a number of clubs. It was agreed that the EFL executive will meet with the management of the club to reiterate the requirements of our regulations and those of the FA and will report back to the board in due course’’.
Wolves have responded stating they are ‘extremely confident’ no FFP guidelines have been breached, but the off-the-field scrutiny is no doubt hindering their on-pitch performances. Maximum points from the games against Reading and Burton this week will be a necessity for Wolves. If the players can ignore the study and apply themselves in the same manner that they did for the first 31 games of the season, then you’d expect it won’t be long before they re-discover their mojo.