Having managed to retain their place in the Premier League the last two season’s, despite a slight regression in terms of final positions, Wolves will looking for the comfort of mid table safety rather than relegation battles for the coming year.
Since returning the Premier League in the summer of 2009 Mick McCarthy’s side have finished 15th and 17th respectively. Home form was the key to the survival last season as they won 8 and drew 4 of their 19 home games, earning 7 more points at Molineux then the previous season however a famous win at Anfield aside their away form dipped as they earned only 12 points on the road.
However with very little departures from his side over the last two campaigns McCarthy will be hoping the stability and experience of two years in the top flight will prove the key for the coming season.
The return to fitness of Stephen Hunt at the tail end of last season coincided with a run of form that eventually secured their survival and the tenacity and direct running of the Irish international will be essential to their hopes for the coming season.
Chairman Steve Morgan might not have the billions of Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour but each summer the Liverpool born businessman has backed Mick McCarthy in the transfer window with multi million pound raids on a relegated rivals typically the order of the day.
2009 and 2010 saw 6.5 million forked out for two highly rated strikers in Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher from Reading and Burnley respectively not to mention the capture of Hunt from Hull while this summer’s marquee signing was Birmingham defender Roger Johnson.
The capture of the 28 year old Johnson looks to be a shrewd bit of business, a fact further recognised by McCarthy who not content with just signing the former Coventry defender has also named him as captain for the coming season.
Whether or not the appointment of Johnson as captain will have an impact on the dressing room with deposed skipper Karl Henry leading the team from the Championship to the Premiership remains to be seen, one thing is for certain the Carling cup winning defender will help bolster a defence that conceded 66 goals last season, the third most in the division.
Another summer signing in the shape of the £5 million pound capture of Jamie O’Hara from Spurs represents another good buy by McCarthy. O’Hara impressed on loan last season and with his future now secure should push on to another level in the Midlands.
Departure wise, there hasn’t been anything significant of note with Marcus Hahnemann leaving but being replaced by Dorus de Vries from Swansea while Steve Moulokolo and Greg Halford have joined Sochaux and Portsmouth, the former in a loan deal.
The large Irish contingent in the Midlands means Irish fan’s will always keep an eye on results and with full back pairing Kevin Foley and Stephen Ward emerging as regulars in the Irish set up, Trapattoni and his team will be keen to ensure that as many DVD’s as possible make their way to the Italy.
Ward in particular will be keen for the new season to start; the former Bohemians man had a fine season last time out, a winning goal against Liverpool and an Irish debut capping a memorable year.
Despite excelling in a more central role behind a lone striker, the return to fitness of Doyle will see Ward return to his left back berth.
Speaking of Doyle, his return could prove vital to the cause. The hard working forward, who could do with being a tad more prolific in front of goal, has been linked with Arsenal and Sunderland during the close season however McCarthy would loathe letting his highly rated forward leave.
Wolves open with an away trip to Blackburn and with games against Fulham and Aston Villa before the end of August a good start will be crucial to their hopes for the season.
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