By 90Min
December 12, 2017

As the second level down to the so-called 'toughest league in the world', the Championship has for many now been adopted as the 'toughest' league to escape, if not globally then certainly across the continent.

This makes Wolverhampton Wanderers' progress this season until now all the more astonishing - despite a large helping of exuberant spending.

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Money does not always guarantee success especially at the rather fragile level of Championship football but a man with a plan and an eye for success, can do. Herein lies the role played by Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

It is perhaps his lack of success at a professional level however - both managerial and as a player - that has propelled the Portuguese steward into becoming such a success in England's second tier.

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A former goalkeeper by trade, Santo spent five seasons during two separate spells at FC Porto respectively, but in that time played back up for the most part, making just 14 appearances as he battled to usurp first Vitor Baia and then Helton.

His early days in the dugout, however, were no easier. Resigning as Valencia boss after less than 18 months in charge, he was then sacked by Dragoes after a season bereft of silverware. So the story comes full circle.

Santo's relatively humble beginnings have allowed a renaissance in fortunes. Born in the Portuguese colony of Sao Tome and Principe in West Africa, the 43-year-old was brought in by Wolves' new multi-billion pound conglomerate owners Fosun International.

With his contacts in the Primera Liga and indeed in Spain also, Santo has put together a side that have blown away all before them this term.

Whilst the funds have been made freely available to the Wolves boss, his eye for what was needed for a Wolves side out of the top-flight since 2012 and struggling for direction, has been shrewd.

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With the coup additions of Porto defender Willy Boly on a season-long loan dea, a hungry marksman in Brazilian Leo Bonatini and the stunning recruitment of Atletico Madrid playmaker Diogo Jota, Santo has put in place a firm backbone into a side which in previous seasons has lacked even a spine.


There remains caution of a possible drop in form encountered by many a Championship side after the exertions of one too many mince pies at Christmas, and indeed the growing pressures of being part of the growing money playground of the Premier League.

But, with just three losses this season far and despite being held by rock-bottom Sunderland at Molineux over the weekend, Wolves have won six of the last seven games - having become the only side this campaign across all competitions to have prevented Manchester City scoring in normal time, albeit losing on penalties.


There will in all likelihood be a drop-off at some point, but with a four-point cushion over chasers Cardiff City and eight-point gap over the promotions spots also, the dreams of Wolves returning to the promised land grow ever more a reality in the new year, with Nuno Espirito Santo the matriarch-in-chief. 


Fans of the West Midlands side are still living in something of a dream scape, but come May and the end of the season, the need to pinch themselves may be at an end.

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