Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club
Nicknames – Wolves, The Wanderers
Best PL Finish – 15th (2009/10)
Wolves have won everything there is to win in domestic football, even claiming to be the only side to have won all football league cups (FA Cup, League Cup and Football League Trophy).
They have been through the mill over their 141-year history, spending most of their time as an established top-flight club before a disastrous spell in the 80s which saw them suffer three consecutive relegations, from the top tier to Division Four.
They recovered but have spent almost all of their time since in the second tier. Three seasons of Premier League football from 2009-2012 brought hope of a sustained spell in the big-time, but consecutive relegations once again brought the club to its knees.
They climbed back to the Championship and consolidated there, until Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group launched an ambitious takeover in 2016, immediately pumping money into the club in an attempt to quickly return to the Premier League.
It worked, and here they are. There are people who believe Wolves will challenge for European football next year. Could they?
Top 5 Record Transfer Fees (as of 04/02/19):
- Adama Traore – £18 million (from Middlesbrough – August 2018)
- Rui Patricio – £16 million* (Sporting Lisbon – October 2018)
- Ruben Neves – £15.8 million** (from Porto – July 2017)
- Jonny – £15 million (from Atletico Madrid – January 2019)
- Helder Costa – £13 million (from Benfica – January 2017)
*Fee paid as compensation after Rui Patricio bought out his previous contract with Sporting. Date given is the date the fee was agreed, Patricio officially joined the club on 18th June 2018.
**Fee officially undisclosed but believed to be £15.8 million (BBC).
(Figures include initial fees in GBP at the time of the transfer, as reported by the BBC unless specified otherwise)
Biggest Flop – Roger Johnson
Having survived for two seasons under the leadership of Mick McCarthy, fans began to believe that Wolves were in the Premier League for the long haul.
They signed Birmingham City’s Roger Johnson in a deal reported to be worth between £4-7 million and immediately made him club captain.
The 28-year-old was meant to be the pillar of a team typified by resilience and strength in defence, he was anything but.
Johnson performed well below par, and Wolves finished bottom of the Premier League. It was reported that the defender turned up drunk to a training session in March just weeks after McCarthy had been sacked, to the fury of Wolves fans.
He stayed at the club to help them fight for promotion from the Championship, but he failed again. He played 42 times as the club suffered successive relegations.
He was then cast aside by incoming manager Kenny Jackett.
It seems rather likely that Roger Johnson does not receive many Christmas cards from Wolves fans any more.
Biggest Bargain – Steve Bull and Andy Thompson
Wolves have picked up some incredible bargains in the last decade alone. Michael Kightly and Matt Jarvis were signed for peanuts before becoming key components of the side that won promotion in 2008/09, while Matt Doherty and Ryan Bennett are star performers for Nuno Espirito Santo’s current team, with Bennett free and Doherty signed for just £75,000.
But they pale in comparison to Wolves’ greatest ever bargain, Steve Bull and Andy Thompson. Signed together in 1986 for a combined cost of £65,000, both players went on to become club legends.
With Wolves preparing for their first ever season in Division 4 in 1986/87, Bull and Thompson transformed the club. They finished fourth that campaign, narrowly missing out on promotion, before successive promotions to the second tier.
Bull top-scored in his first eight seasons, eventually staying until his retirement and becoming Wolves’ record goal scorer by a country mile.
Thompson’s impact was less obvious; being a full-back rather a striker, but fans adore him just as much having stayed for 11 years.
Though £65,000 was worth far more back then, Steve Bull and Andy Thompson proved to be worth so so so much more still.
Records & Trivia
- Ruben Neves remains the Championship’s record signing.
- Three of Wolves’ five biggest signings are Portuguese; Rui Patricio, Ruben Neves and Helder Costa.
- Scottish Striker Andy Gray was Wolves record signing for 16 years, from 1979 until 1995.
- While in the Championship in 2017/18, Wolves had six loan players. Five of those have since joined on a permanent basis.
- In the last three seasons, Wolves have signed three players from Atletico Madrid. No other English side has signed more than one in that time.