New Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui has a huge job on his hands at Molineux if he is going to keep the Old Gold in the Premier League this season.
The Spanish manager takes charge of his first Wolves game after the World Cup break and must transform a side that currently sits 20th in the Premier League after some woeful performances.
Bruno Lage was backed with a transfer war chest during the summer and spent heavily on the likes of Nathan Collins, Goncalo Guedes and Matheus Nunes, with far too many talented players in the squad underperforming.
Nunes, in particular, has disappointed with his displays in midfield, with Wolves fans’ expectations high after the Portuguese maestro joined in a club-record deal after some sensational form at Sporting Lisbon, which saw Pep Guardiola label him as one of the best in the world.
So far this season, the 24-year-old has featured in 12 Premier League games, in which he has failed to score and has just one assist, earning a shocking 6.46 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
Can Lopetegui get Nunes back to his best?
By comparison, the 2021/22 campaign saw him average a superb 7.08 rating for his performances in Portugal, after contributing three goals and two assists, so he is clearly struggling to adapt to the Premier League.
Journalist Pete O’Rourke certainly agrees that Nunes has let his new side down with his less-than-impressive displays in a Wolves shirt.
He told Football FanCast: “They also brought in Matheus Nunes who was their marquee signing and he’s not lived up to expectations so far. But I’m sure that Julen Lopetegui will be looking to get the best out of the players who are already at Wolves.”
When deployed alongside Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho in Wolves’ side, there has been a lot of pressure on Nunes to be the legs and creative outlet in midfield when perhaps he is better suited to being a deeper midfielder who can enjoy more possession, as is evidenced by his much-improved passing stats at Sporting compared to Wolves.
The Portugal international averaged just less than 20 more passes per game with Sporting and enjoyed a far better success rate (86.2% v 81.2%), so Lopetegui might consider dropping him deeper in order to get the best out of the Old Gold’s record signing after Christmas.
If Wolves are to avoid relegation this season, then the Spanish manager will have to ensure that quality players such as Nunes drastically improve in the second half of the campaign. However, judging by his huge experience on the continent, he seems well-placed to do that.
Just ask Ruben Neves, a player he brought through the ranks at Porto and helped make the player he is today.