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After Brentford’s late equaliser against Fulham at the weekend,

Wolves sealed their promotion back to the Premier League.

Four steps to Championship promotion: The Wolves modelIt was some feat considering their 15th place finish the season before. I’ve taken a look at the steps behind Wolves rapid success, to see how they’ve gained promotion, and what other Championship teams can learn from them for the future.

Step 1 – Owner Ambition

Wolves are owned by International conglomerate Fosun, who took over the club in 2016. They arrived with a clear ambition of turning Wolves into an established Premier League Club.

They arguably made too much change too quickly in their first season with the appointment of Walter Zenga to replace Kenny Jackett an unsuccessful move, as well as several signings who failed to make the desired impact. Lessons were learnt, and they approached their second season with a better understanding of the division and the fan base, heavier financial backing, and a manager with European experience in Nuno Espirito Santo.

With the Championship becoming increasingly competitive, owners will need to invest heavier into their club’s infrastructure, as well as take calculated risks to give their teams the best chance of reaching the promised land.

Step 2 – Playing Style

Wolves adopted a 5-3-2 formation under Nuno which required a lot of work to introduce to the players on the training ground. The formation, when executed well, makes teams incredibly difficult to break down with the added defender, as well as enabling teams to stretch the play with wing backs constantly free in the wide areas of the pitch.

Nuno also introduced a passing and possession retaining style which encouraged attacks to begin from the goalkeeper and out of defence, a style rarely before seen in the Championship.

Many teams in the Championship are guilty of adopting a direct style of play. Whilst arguably this can be effective (Cardiff being a prime example), Wolves adopting a formation unseen in the Championship before gave them a competitive edge against many teams and one which other managers struggled to set their teams up to stop.

Step 3 – Support

Wolves have always had a fantastic support, but this season they’ve consistently sold out both home and away. A noisy and passionate fan base, they rally behind their team from the very start and keep the atmosphere going for 90 minutes.

Many Championship grounds struggle to maintain an atmosphere past kick off, a key problem being lower attendances, in particular, in the midweek games. Clubs need to address their match day atmosphere with more affordable tickets for fans, as well as encouraging their fans to get behind the team as much as possible.

Step 4 – Players

Wolves went against the traditional model of signing experienced Championship players, instead, opting to scout further afield. Whilst the majority of their talent came from Portugal in the form of Helder Costa, Ivan Cavaleiro, Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota, they also picked up a few gems from the lesser known divisions.

Scottish left-back Barry Douglas was signed from Turkish league side Konyaspor for £1.2m and contributed an unbelievable 5 goals and 14 assists. They also signed Brazilian striker Leo Bonatini on loan from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal, who scored 12 goals and provided 6 assists.

Whilst many clubs don’t possess the financial firepower of Wolves, it shows that there are players out there on the market that can be snapped up for cheap who can make a real difference. Clubs need to improve their global scouting network, so they don’t miss out on players who could become real assets for their team.

Post written by Jonathan Roberts
Blog: missingstudsfootball.wordpress.com, Twitter: @missingstuds

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

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