For a team that has only been back in the top flight of English football since August — after gaining promotion from the championship last season – it is fair to say that Wolverhampton Wanderers can consider their campaign so far as a resounding success.
They sit in eighth position in the Premier League standings (a higher place than big spenders West Ham and Everton to give you an idea of their efforts to date) — and have already enjoyed memorable wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and gained draws against Arsenal and Manchester United and beaten Liverpool in the FA Cup. Indeed, they kept their cup hopes alive with a last-gasp leveller against local rivals Shrewsbury at the weekend and are expected to go through in the replay.
Next the Molineux outfit will look to add to their points tally once more when they host West Ham in a top-flight clash on Tuesday night and an entertaining tussle is expected with the Hammers fresh from the humiliating FA Cup fourth round defeat at AFC Wimbledon.
But all of this positivity, both on and off the pitch, has given the chief executives of rivals Premier League clubs yet another manager/head coach on whom to fix their beady eyes. That’s because the boys from Black Country would seem to have an exceptional leader at the helm in the shape of Nuno Espirito Santo. And he is definitely a target on the radar of those who stroll the corridors of power at bigger clubs than Wolves, both domestically and on the continent.
There is no doubt that his coaching, recruitment and game management has been looked at enviously by other clubs who may not hesitate to dangle a mega-sized contract, along with big playing staff budget, if they felt they could lure the Portuguese chief.
As well as his ability and personality being attractive qualities for potential suitors, he has bundles of enthusiasm, too. And he is his own man as well — after being fined £8,000 fine for running on the field of play during a Premier League game, he hasn’t ruled out repeating his joyous antics.
He was charged and fined by the powers that be at the FA after running on to the Molineux pitch to celebrate Diogo Jota’s late winner in a recent 4-3 top-flight win over Leicester City. Of course, he accepted the penalty and stumped up — but now says he may have to dip into his funds once more given his desire to enjoy special moments.
“Everybody knows it is hard to contain those emotions in such a special moment. Last minute of the game, last goal, it gave us such an important victory. I tried to be as far away as possible to avoid the situation.
“But I maintain my opinion the referee made the right decision but at the same time I think everybody understood why I went onto the pitch. It’s very difficult to say I won’t do it again. I think that goes for everybody, managers and players. It is such a moment of thrill that sometimes you cannot contain yourself – it’s difficult.”