Arsenal legend Ian Wright has lauded Wolves for taking the Premier League ‘by storm’ this season – and reckons this could be just the start.
Wright has seen a lot of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side this season in his role as a pundit on BBC’s Match of the Day.
The former striker reckons Wolves, who beat his old club 3-1 last night, believes they have been one of the success stories of the Premier League in 2018-19.
“I’ve been very impressed. When they were coming up out of the Championship, the noises coming out of Wolves were that they were coming to compete, they were not coming to finish 17th,” said the 55-year-old, who set a club record of 185 goals for Arsenal until it was overtaken by Thierry Henry.
“I think a lot of people in the Premier League were saying things like ‘oh yeah? We’ll see what you’re going to do, we’ll see…’ but they’ve taken it by storm.
“They’ve been a breath of fresh air. It’s great to see a team who’ve come up and have been positive.”
Wolves owners Fosun have backed Nuno with the biggest investment known at the club, spending around £70m last summer, plus £18m on Jonny Otto in January. The record will be smashed again this July with the £32m permanent capture of Raul Jimenez, with other signings set to follow.
Wright believes this could be the start of something big for Wolves in the next few years.
The ex-England international visited the club’s Compton training base to interview Matt Doherty and was highly impressed by the facilities.
“Ideally, for Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters, this is just the start of big things for them,” he added. “They have got some great backing, but now it’s about sustaining it.
“The training ground looks brilliant, in respect of the facilities that I’ve seen just walking around, and they’ve got big plans.
“You wouldn’t think they would do all this for it to all fall away. You just have to see how it goes, and it all comes down to performing in the league, staying in the league, attracting those great players and continuing to progress.”
Wright believes Wolves spent wisely last summer and he believes the success of their signings has given them the confidence to excel at this level.
“When you’re confident enough to say to people that you’re coming to compete, that means you’re going to go for it,” he added.
“But how the team does in the Premier League depends on how the players deal with the situations they find themselves in, how they deal with the ‘top boys’ and Wolves have done all that – they’ve answered all of those questions.”
Wright also believes Raul Jimenez has proved himself in the Premier League even before his first season in England is over.
And the Gunners striking icon believes the Mexico international, who has has scored 16 goals in his first season in English football, is looking like he is worth every penny of the £32m club record fee agreed with Benfica.
“It doesn’t matter what you do in regards of link-up play – if you’re not scoring, that’s what people judge you on in the Premier League,” he said.
“Jimenez has done brilliantly well as people can see how he scores at this level.
“It’s a very difficult position to play. You come up against some of the best defenders in the world, and strikers are judged on the amount of goals that they score. He has done that.”
Wright believes Jimenez has benefited from the service he has had from his team-mates.
“When you look at the players Wolves have got, the ones who were already here last season and the ones that the team have signed, you always need someone to score goals and Wolves have that,” added the former England international.
“Being a top striker, and being a new forward in the Premier League, all depends on the service you are getting.
“If you’re getting the service he has been getting at Wolves, from Matt Doherty, Diogo Jota, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Morgan Gibbs-White – who’s been very impressive – from all of the guys, they make a lot of chances.
“If you’re anything worth your salt, you’re going to get chances and then it’s down to you to take those chances. Jimenez has been taking his chances and scored in very big games for Wolves as well, playing really well.”