The Nuno Espirito Santo era at Wolves is over. The Portuguese tactician has confirmed he will step down at the end of the campaign, and the search is already on for his successor.
Having slumped to mid-table mediocrity this season, Wolves are keen to find somebody to drag them back towards the European spots again, and there are several names already emerging as early contenders for the job.
Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
The man on the radar before Nuno became an option in 2016, there have been suggestions that Wolves are ready to go back for Julen Lopetegui this summer.
He’s an excellent manager who has undoubtedly repaired the damage his stint with Real Madrid did to his reputation, but that’s the problem with this. Sevilla aren’t going to let him go, and he’s got no reason to leave.
It’ll be too tough to get Lopetegui, so Wolves would be better off focusing on other targets.
A concern with Rui Faria is that the only eye-catching thing on his CV is ‘worked under Jose Mourinho’. He spent one year working with Qatari side Al-Duhail and has been out of work since January 2020.
Appointing Faria would be an enormous risk from Wolves. As Mikel Arteta has shown us at Arsenal, just being near someone smart doesn’t guarantee success.
Having impressed in China, Vitor Pereira has been followed by Premier League sides for a while now, and the stars could be aligning now that he is out of work.
Favouring the three-at-the-back style that Wolves are already familiar with, Pereira likes his side to press high and control possession, and that would make him a popular choice at Molineux.
He’s not the manager who led Porto to consecutive titles between 2011 and 2013 anymore, but he’s still an intriguing option who deserves some real consideration.
Paulo Fonseca will leave Roma this summer to be replaced by Jose Mourinho, who you can’t help but feel would be at the top of Wolves’ wish list if he hadn’t already agreed a contract in Rome.
Known as someone capable of getting players to exceed expectations, Fonseca enjoyed a lot of success in Portugal and did very well in Ukraine, and although his spell in Italy hasn’t set the world on fire, he’s proven to be capable of leading a top side.
Fonseca favours a patient, fluid brand of football which is designed to dictate games against any opposition, and the thought of what he could do with Ruben Neves means he should be in with a shout.
If Rafa Benitez is ready for a return to management, Wolves should be all over him.
It’s well accepted that Benitez worked wonders with his hands tied at Newcastle, so he’d be glad to have the chance to work under owners who enjoy backing their bosses.
With a wealth of experience both overseas and in England, Benitez is the kind of big name Wolves like to target.
Bruno Lage has been out of work since leaving Benfica last summer, so he’s a straightforward hiring for any suitor, and given he’s a client of Jorge Mendes, it’s no surprise to see him linked with Wolves.
Famed for his transformation of Benfica in the 2018/19 season, Lage is another boss who enjoys an aggressive, high-tempo style of play, and his track record with young players only adds to his appeal.
It’s a bit of a risky appointment – he set both positive and negative records in Portugal – but he showed enough to suggest he’s capable of taking a job like Wolves.
Having missed out on his third title with Porto, Sergio Conceicao could be on the lookout for a new job this year and would have plenty of offers if he does choose to walk away.
He replaced Nuno at Porto in 2017 and quickly led them back to success, making a considerable dent in Europe as well with his fast, aggressive style of play. His high press creates plenty of counter opportunities, and Wolves’ squad is full of players who thrive on moments like that.
Conceicao’s personality has also made him incredibly popular among his players, so if Wolves are looking to raise spirits ahead of the new season, he could be a smart hiring.