Mel Eves believes Wolves need a bigger squad for next season.
Head coach Nuno Espirito Santo used just 19 players last campaign until he throw on late substitutes Will Norris and Max Kilman in the last home game against Fulham. That was the lowest number by a Premier League club in 2018-19 and Wolves enjoyed a season free from serious injuries.
But League Cup winner Eves, 62, doesn’t believe Nuno can get away with again, after qualifying for the Europa League, the club’s first foray into European competition since Eves was their last scorer in Europe in October 1981. Wolves will have six additional fixtures if they reach the group stages of the Europa League, but they are only planning on two or three new signings this summer.
“They’ve got to look at the players and think about the make-up of the squad, what is their philosophy on how big they want the squad to be?” Eves told wolvesbite.com
“Nuno has intentionally gone with a smaller squad from January onwards, but for me, I don’t think he can start next season with that kind of set-up.
“It’s great for a manager to work with a small squad because you keep everyone on side. But I would be wanting a bigger squad and also better quality, but he’s probably looking at keeping people happy as well.”
Wolves have made one-time club record signings Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro available for transfer this summer. If either player leaves, they are sure to be replaced. But Eves, who netted 53 times in 214 outings in gold and black and was twice top scorer, in 1981-82 and 1982-83, believes Nuno might think he has got the maximum out of the duo and it’s time for them to move on, in the best interests of both parties.
“There are a few players who need to step up to the plate in my opinion,” added Eves. “But Nuno knows the players intimately; I don’t know their characters or what’s going on in their lives or if they’ve been carrying knocks or little niggles. There are loads of different things to be taken into consideration.
“Another thing is whether Nuno feels he has got everything he can out of a certain player, or he feels there’s a lot more to come that we don’t know about.
“He will know then what other players he can bring in, or what other players are coming through the Wolves system as well. There are lots of things to take into consideration, as well as those who, on the surface, we can say ‘it might be decision time for one or two players who aren’t first choices on the list at the moment’.
“They’re going to be looking to shape and make decisions on what they’re going to do next season. That’s what any team would be doing.”
One player who the jury is still out on is Adama Traore, who made just eight Premier League starts after his then club record £18m arrival from Middlesbrough last August.
Nuno is set to keep faith with the exciting Spaniard next season to see if he can unlock the 23-year-old’s potential. Eves believes Nuno needs to see end product from the former Aston Villa flier.
“On his day, he can win a game for you and cause havoc for a defence,” said the former striker. “But it’s all about end product – defenders, do they defend? What else do they bring to the game? Midfield and forwards the same. You have to analyse every player on the two aspects – what he does with the ball but also what he does for the team without the ball. That’s the massive thing as well.
“How does he effect the game for your side? How effective is he at stopping the opposition when Wolves haven’t got the ball, and how good is he when they have? Because the vast majority of a player’s game is without the ball.
“But Nuno will know the player far better than I do because I’ve never met Traore or watched him train.”