Wolverhampton Wanderers confirmed the departure of Bruno Lage as manager earlier this month but the Premier League side are still yet to appoint a permanent replacement.
Lage was brought in to replace Nuno Espirito Santo at the start of the 2021/22 campaign and guided Wolves to a 10th-placed finish at the end of his first season, just five points outside the European spots.
However, one of the reasons Wolves missed out on Europe was their poor form towards the end of the campaign which has carried over into 2022/23. Wolves won just one of their final 15 Premier League matches under Lage, with that coming this season against Southampton, and they sat 18th in the table at the time of Lage’s depature.
Ruben Amorim was the early favourite for the job, as one of the best young managers in Europe who also happens to be Portuguese, a route Wolves appear to be favouring with their past two bosses coming from the Iberian nation.
In the mean time, Steve Davis and James Collins have taken temporary charge of Wolves and after losing their first game against Chelsea have lifted the Midlands club out of the relegation zone. At the weekend, Wolves beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 to end a three-match losing streak and jump one place up to 17th, leapfrogging Southampton. While Wolves will be looking to build on that run on the pitch, behind the scenes the search continues for a permanent manager.
But who could it be?
Find the next Wolves manager odds here:
|Manager||Sky Bet||Paddy Power|
|Nuno Espirito Santo||5/2||5/2|
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A return for Nuno Espirito Santo?
The current favourite is Michael Beale, the QPR boss who is also being linked with a move to Rangers, but the 42-year-old appears to be focused on his life in London having only just moved to the Championship side. Taking over from Mark Warburton in the summer, Beale currently has QPR fourth in the Championship after 14 matches played, just one point off top spot. And he wants the focus to be on his QPR side.
“There has been a bit of noise but I had a really honest face-to-face conversation with [director of football] Les Ferdinand yesterday. The club’s not had contact, I’ve not had direct contact either,” Beale said.
“At the moment, it’s my first job, I could not be happier with how things are going, with the owners, the staff, the players. I want there to be noise about QPR, I want there to be noise about our best players, I want there to be noise about myself and the management team – and it is a team, it’s not my show, it’s everybody here. I want there to be noise because I want us to be doing well, that’s my job.
“What I don’t want is the outside noise to break anything we’ve got inside because what we’ve got inside and what we’re building is something that really excites me. My focus is on that.”
Beale isn’t the only manager who appears to have distanced himself from the Wolves job. In recent days Espirito Santo has been linked with a remarkable return to Wolves, just over a year after he left the club to join Tottenham.
When Espirito Santo first joined Wolves in 2017, the club had just finished 15th in the Championship and were closer to League One than they were to a top-flight return. But in his first season in charge, Espirito Santo led Wolves back to the Premier League by claiming the Championship title.
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He wasn’t done there either. While some newly-promoted sides have struggled to stay in the Premier League, Wolves finished seventh in their first season back and qualified for the Europa League. In his second season another seventh-placed finish wasn’t enough to secure European football but Wolves fans enjoyed their run to the Europa League quarter-finals.
Things did stagnate for Espirito Santo at Wolves in his final two seasons, and after a brief spell at Tottenham, the Portuguese boss returned to management in the summer with Saudi club Al-Ittihad.
“My life in football as a player and manager is long. Everything about my exit from the Federation is rumours, and my mind is now focused on the team’s camp and how to prepare it during the down time,” he said recently.
“We will work during the coming period to play with two squads after the players return from the World Cup break. I wish the Saudi national team success in the World Cup.”