Premier League Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers

In my final Premier League preview I focus on Wolverhampton Wanderers. After last season’s impressive 15th place finish manager Mick McCarthy will be looking to make the club into a stabilised Premier League side.

An impressive summer for Wolves has come after a notable 2009/10 season. McCarthy has strengthened his squad with players that have Premier League experience and a few that are going to want to prove themselves in the top flight of English football. Steven Fletcher scored eight goals for Burnley last season in the Turf Moor side’s relegation battle and the Scottish striker will be looking to have a more enjoyable time this term after joining for six and a half million pounds. After Hull were relegated last season Stephen Hunt decided that he wanted to stay in the Premier League and joined Wolves for £3 million. The winger’s pace, quality of crossing and assurance on the ball will be a great asset to McCarthy’s side. Hunt’s teammate at Hull, Steven Mouyokolo, has also signed for Wolves in a deal worth £2.5 million. The centre-back struggled to show his quality last season but Wolves will be hoping that the French defender can stand up to the plate this season. Also joining the club are Jelle van Damme, Adlene Guedioura and Geoffrey Mujangi Bia. Van Damme made 110 appearances for Anderlecht and the Belgian defender, who briefly played for Southampton between 2004 and 2006, will be looking to establish himself as a first team player. Algeria midfielder Guerdioura, who is one of many Algerian internationals who are actually French-born, spent the second half of last season on loan at Wolves, where he played fourteen times, scoring one goal. The central midfielder will be hoping to have an extended run in the first team this season. Mujangi Bia also spent the second half of last season on loan with Wolves and has now rejoined the side on loan for this season. The Belgian right-sided midfielder adds more width to the squad, as well as his  strength going forward.
Wolves could struggle at the back this season. Jody Craddock, Ronald Zubar and Mouyokolo are all decent defenders but can be inconsistent; they could struggle to keep most teams at bay this season. Greg Halford and George Elokobi have not proven themselves at the top level and so, again, could struggle, while Christophe Berra is feeble in defence. Van Damme could add some much needed strength to the back-line but this may not be enough; Wolves could do with another defender who is proven in the Premier League.
The side are a little stronger in midfield with Nenad Milijas and Hunt the main men. Milijas impressed last season after his move from Red Star Belgrade in June 2009. The Serbian midfielder has a powerful shot and links up well with the defence and attack. Young English winger Michael Kightly could use this season to propel himself into the England spotlight but will find it difficult to hold down a first team place. As with the defence Wolves could do with some more experienced midfielders as there seems to be very little quality in their squad.
Goals are going to be hard to come by for Wolves this season, although the fact that Kevin Doyle is now fully fit and raring to go is a huge boost for them. The Republic of Ireland international struggled with injury last season but still managed to score nine goals. Doyle and Fletcher could possibly form a partnership, while Sylvain Ebanks-Blake still fails to live up to the hype created by his Manchester United youth team days. Wolves will stay up like last season and will probably finish above the 15th place mark, but the lack of quality in the squad is going to make it another gruelling season for this squad.
Where will they finish?: 14th
Official relegation odds: 2/1 (Bet365)
Star man: Stephen Hunt and Kevin Doyle
One to watch: Michael Kightly
Main weakness: They have a sever lack of Premier League experience 

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