Wolves have been backed to gatecrash the top six next season – provided they splash the cash, according to pundits Alvin Martin and Ray Parlour.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have taken many by surprise this season with the relative eas in which they have settled into the Premier League. Wolves are sitting in seventh place with two games left, in stark contrast to their opponents this Saturday who they were promoted with – relegated Fulham.
Wolves spent around £70m last summer while the Cottagers splashed out £100m, yet have struggled around the drop zone all season before being sentenced back to the Championship at the first attempt.
TalkSPORT pundits Parlour and Martin both believe Wolves can maintain their progress and take on the top six – not just in results, but where they finish in the Premier League next season.
“They have been magnificent, they really have,” said former Arsenal and England star Parlour, 46. “Now it’s all about next season for Wolves. If they could finish seventh – which would be a brilliant season for them – then now can they invest a little bit more to keep pushing on?
“We look at the managers in the Premier League and there are some fantastic managers, but the Wolves head coach knows exactly what he wants from those players, and those players have really responded to him.
“Every single department has really performed well and Nuno has done a fantastic job. I thought they would be in the top 10 before the start of the season because of the quality and players they had.
“I just thought they could go forward because of that. The two up front, Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota, have been excellent, Matt Doherty at right wing back has been outstanding this season and Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves – we’ve seen what they can do and the quality they have in midfield.
“That result (3-1 Wolves win) against Arsenal wasn’t really a surprise to me because the way they have played this season against the top sides has shown how good they are. And they seem to up their game against the bigger sides.”
Former West Ham and England centre back Martin believes Wolves can challenge the top six but believes it will be harder because of the fans’ expectations will be higher.
“That’s got to be the aim,” said the 60-year-old, who enjoyed some tasty tussles with Wolves record scorer Steve Bull in the early 1990s in his 598 games for the Hammers. “But I think that’s why it will be difficult for them next season because they have set such high standards this year. It’s 10 years since any promoted side got 50 points so can they take it to the next level?
“If Wolves can keep the same side together and add to it, then they will have a real chance.
“I think Wolves will have to invest some money in the summer but the managers of both Wolves and Watford have had settled sides. Java Gracia has played predominantly 15 players, and they have performed well throughout this season.
“I always say that once you’ve got players who know each other inside out and they know exactly what a team-mate is going to do with a ball, it almost becomes telepathic. For example if I’ve got a team-mate who wants it, I know exactly where and when he wants it.
“I think that’s something you can use as a weapon against teams who are chopping and changing.
“First and foremost, it will take investment. I think it will get more difficult for them next season because of obvious reasons. Teams will go there and the home fans will expect to beat them, whereas this season they have come in and not known what to expect to some degree, but would have been happy to stay up.
“They will have thought if they can get anywhere near to halfway, they’d be delighted with it.
“Next season, they will subconsciously think ‘Can we get anywhere near the top seven?’”