Nuno Espirito Santos was appointed Head Coach on 31st May 2017. Since his arrival the on-field success has been nothing short of incredible. The first season under Fosun saw the club seesaw on a rollercoaster of chaos under Walter Zenga. This moved onto enduring some of the worst football seen for many a year from the clueless Paul Lambert.
Nuno’s arrival was greeted with a sense of anticipation given his growing reputation in Europe.
Nuno was born on the 25th January 1974 on the island of São Tomé and Príncipe.
Officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is an island country in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres (155 and 140 miles) off the northwestern coast of Gabon, respectively.
The first successful settlement of São Tomé was established in 1493 by Álvaro Caminha, who received the land as a grant from the crown. Príncipe was settled in 1500 under a similar arrangement. Attracting settlers proved difficult, however, and most of the earliest inhabitants were “undesirables” sent from Portugal!
In 1994, Nuno began his goalkeeping career with Vitória Sport Clube, commonly known as Vitória de Guimarães. He was transferred to Deportivo de La Coruña during January 1997. During his six seasons here he spent 3 of these out on loan. He was primarily seen as a back up keeper to Jacques Songo’o and José Francisco Molina.
During the 1999/00 season Nuno played at CP Mérida in the Spanish second division. The club finished in 6th place at the end of the regular season but they were relegated to the third division due to some “irregularities”.
The 2000/01 saw Nuno plying his trade at CA Osasuna. The team finished the season one point above the relegation saving Nuno from suffering back to back relegations.
Nuno spent 5 years in Russia before returning to Portugal. He had a brief stint with C.D. Aves before making a final return to Porto until June 2010.
Nuno represented Portugal times in the 1996 Olympics. The team finished fourth in the competition. As an uncapped player, he was called up for the Euro 2008 full squad as a replacement for the injured Quim.
Following his release from his contract at Porto, Nuno rejoined former Porto manager Jesualdo Ferreira at Málaga CF, as their goalkeeping coach. This was to be short-lived as both moved to Panathinaikos FC in the November of 2010.
Nuno was appointed manager of Portuguese club Rio Ave in May of 2010. In his 2 year stay Rio Ave, the club qualified for both the Taça de Portugal and Taça da Liga finals. They also reached the UEFA Europa League for the first time in its history.
A move to Valencia CF followed in July 2014. Initially signing a one year contract. This was extended in January 2015. Valencia CF finished 4th in La Liga in Nuno’s first year. 11 months later Nuno resigned followed an away defeat at Sevilla.
After taking a break for 6 months, Nuno returned to Porto as head coach. In his first season, he guided the club to a second place league finish. However, this was not acceptable to the ones of the club and they relieved him of his duties in May of 2017.
During his time at the Wolves Nuno has consistently referred to “The Project”. It is clear that to him, this is far more than a head coaching role. The owners of the club, the carefully recruited backroom team, the wider employees of the club and certainly the players are invested into the future.
Neves, Jota, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Boly, Jonny, Patricio, Saiss and Raul have all embraced life in Wolverhampton. Combined with Coady, Bennett, Doherty and Gibbs-White the togetherness displayed by the playing staff is remarkable. You are left in no doubt they would fight for each other, and the Club, no matter what was thrown at them.
The early cynical attitudes of the media experts are dissipating. Yes, these guys can do it on a cold wet Tuesday night in Hull, and any other city or town you are to mention. The sniping by other clubs has faded away, the realisation that there were no rules broken. The owners were smart. They looked at the puzzle of escaping the Championship. They identified a method that no one else had contemplated and executed the plan to perfection. The sour grapes displayed by the likes of Aston Villa, Derby and Leeds just confirmed they had been outsmarted by some new kids on the block and they didn’t like it.
Nuno has coined the phrase “Make your ideas stronger than theirs”. A philosophy he implements every day. Focusing on what you want to do rather than being distracted by what you think your opponent may or may not do.
During an interview with The Coaches Voice, Nuno talks about his “idea” and how he decided to challenge the old school thinking regarding promotion from the Championship. It makes for excellent reading for any Wolves fan and gives a wonderful insight into the man himself.
What does the future hold for Nuno and Wolverhampton Wanderers? Our current league position and upcoming semi-final appearance would indicate it is going to be very very bright.
Other clubs are taking notice. Chelsea has been reported as having more than a passing interest in appointing Nuno as Sarri’s replacement. If we are completely honest with ourselves, this situation will become the norm as Nuno’s stock and reputation continue to grow.
We all know that players, managers and head coaches come and go. Many question loyalty in modern day football, especially with the ridiculous amounts of money involved. However, this for some reason feels different. Nuno is totally invested. The players are invested. The owners are certainly invested and are prepared to invest more financially.
I think it would be foolish to suggest that Nuno will be at Molineux for the rest of his career. Yet, I do not think it beyond the realms of possibility he will be with us for a few more years to come. The continual improvement of the paying staff, combined with the added attraction of breaking into the top 4 of the Premier League and European football will ensure Nuno remains focussed on creating what could be the greatest period in our history.