Wolverhampton Wanderers Profile
|Major Honours||First Division/Premier League (3), Second Division/Championship (4), Third Division/League One (3), Fourth Division/League Two (1), FA Cup (4), Football League Cup/EFL (2), Community Shield (4), Football League Trophy/Papa John's (1).|
Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers - more commonly known as Wolves - are one of the oldest clubs in world soccer and have been playing in front of loyal fans at Molineux since 1889.
Wolves dominated English football in the 1950s, winning the Division One title three times, captained by the legendary Billy Wright.
In the 1960s and '70s, the club had numerous cup successes. However, from the 1980s and into the '90s, Wolves began to decline, falling as far as the English Fourth Division.
As the millennium approached, Wolves drifted between the Premier League, Championship and League One. However, under former manager Nuno Espirito Santo the famous club secured their place in the top flight once again.
The early years
The club were founded in 1877 and became Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 1879 after the merging of St. Luke's FC and local cricket club Blakenhall Wanderers. In the same season when they played their first FA Cup tie, Wolves also won their first trophy, the 1884 Wrekin Cup.
After turning professional, the club were nominated as one of the 12 founding members of the Football League in 1888. They played in the first round of matches ever staged in the Football League, against local rivals Aston Villa. They finished the inaugural season in third place and reached their first FA Cup final, losing 3-0 to Preston North End.
It was after this season when Wolves relocated to Molineux, the stadium where they have been ever since.
In 1893, the team won their first FA Cup, beating Everton 1-0. After dropping to the second tier for the first time in their history, Wolves won their second FA Cup in 1908 with a 3-1 win over Newcastle United.
Twenty-six years after relegation from the First Divison (and after a brief stint in the Third Division), Wolves found themselves back in the top flight in 1932.
Under Franklin Buckley, the team became one of the dominant sides in England in the years before the Second World War, finishing runners-up in back-to-back seasons (1937/38 and 1938/39). In 1937/38, they finished second to Arsenal by a single point, having lost the last game of the season 1-0.
Due to the Second World War, the Football League was suspended in 1939.
Top flight giants in the 1950s
In terms of success, the 1950s were the best in the club's long and illustrious history. Managed by Stan Cullis, Wolves would have a decade to remember.
Legendary captain Billy Wright guided his side to their first ever league title, winning the First Division in the 1953/54 season, beating rivals West Bromwich Albion to top spot.
Wolves would reinstate their dominance in English soccer later in the decade, winning two successive league titles in 1957/58 and 1958/59. Their run stopped in 1960, when they finished behind Burnley by a single point. missing out on the title 1960, finishing behind Burnley by one point.
During these impressive years, Wolves had made a number of improvements to their stadium, including the installing of floodlights, which allowed them to play floodlit friendlies.
As well as success in England, Wolves started to make waves internationally, defeating Hungarian side Honved in a friendly. This was particularly remarkable as Honved had a number of Hungarian internationals in their ranks, at a time when the Hungarian national team was one of the strongest in the world.
Captain Billy Wright
Billy Wright became an England and Wolverhampton Wanderers legend between the years of 1939 to 1959, placing himself in club and national team history.
Wright joined Wolves in 1938 at the age of 14, before making his unofficial debut a year later in a 2-1 win over Notts County. From this point onwards, he would become a legend in the Black Country.
Throughout the war, Wright became a Physical Training Instructor but continued to play for Wolves, making over 100 appearances during wartime.
After World War Two, he would captain his side to domestic and cup glory, leading his team to three First Division titles, as well as winning the FA Cup in 1949.
The Englishman retired the year of their final title win after making 541 appearances for the club. Wright also made 105 appearances for England, who he also captained from 1948 onwards.
He became the first player ever to earn 100 international caps and is the ninth-most capped player ever to have played for England.
Cup success in the 1960s and '70s, decline in the '80s
The 1960s began as the 1950s had ended for Wolves - sucessfully - as they won their fourth FA Cup in 1960, beating Blackburn Rovers 3-0 at Wembley.
They continued their cup triumphs into the 1970s, winning the Football League Cup in both the 1973/74 and 1979/80 seasons.
However, after their dominance in the 1950s and '60s, Wolves were on the decline. After a dreadful start to the 1964/65 campaign, the iconic Stan Cullis was sacked as manager and Wolves were subsequently relegated to the Second Division.
They returned to the top flight in 1967 before being relegated again in 1976, once again returning to the First Division the season after.
Although Wolves had generated a habit of bouncing back, the 1980s would bring devastating decline as after their multi-million pound renovation of Molineux, financial difficulties struck the club.
Attendances declined and accompanied by the failure to repay loans, Wolves almost plummeted into liquidation before being saved by Saudi brothers, Mahmud and Mohammad Bhatti of the company Allied Properties.
After being relegated to the Second Division once more in 1982, Wolves were expecting an imminent return to the top flight. However, a lack of investment from the new owners saw the club suffer three successive relegations to plunge into the English Fourth Division.
The club found themselves in receivership for the second time in four years in 1986, with Wolverhampton City Council purchasing the stadium and surrounding land to bail them out. A local developer paid off the club's debts in return for planning permission to develop on the site.
In the 1987/88 and 1988/89 seasons, thanks to new manager Graham Turner and goals from record scorer Steve Bull, Wolves earned back-to-back promotions to the Second Division, as well as winning the 1988 Football League Trophy Final. Both Turner and Bull had starred in the 1986/87 season, when Wolves had narrowly missed out on promotion.
Wolves going into the Millennium
After Allied Properties' failure to push Wolves to success, lifelong fan Jack Hayward purchased the club in 1990, providing investment for stadium upgrades. By 1993, the focus was on pushing for promotion into the newly formed Premier League.
Wolves failed to gain promotion in 1995 and 1997 but reached their goal in 2003 after beating Sheffield United 3-0 in the Championship Play-off final, ending a 19-year absence from the top flight.
However, in Wolves style, they were relegated the season after. Glenn Hoddle failed to return Wolves back to the top, but the club were rebuilt by manager Mick McCarthy.
Under new management and new ownership, with Hayward having sold the club to Steve Morgan in 2007, Wolves returned to the Premier League once more as 2008/09 Championship winners.
They enjoyed two seasons at the top table, being relegated once more in 2011/12, before falling to League One in 2012/13.
Although the club were bouncing between divisions, Kenny Jackett implemented an element of consistency, leading the club back to the Championship in 2014, where they would stay for four years.
Revolution under Nuno Espirito Santo
After Wolves' takeover by Chinese investment group Fosun International in 2016, the club would become an established name in the Premier League.
Kenny Jackett was dismissed of his duties and was replaced by Walter Zenga, who was in turn replaced by Paul Lambert. He would then be sacked after the 2016/17 campaign.
History would be made when Wolves appointed former Porto manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Under the Portuguese boss, Wolves returned to the top flight in the 2017/18 season after a six-year absence.
In their return to the Premier League, Nuno helped his side achieve a seventh place finish, their best since 1980. Their position also earned them a place in the Europa League for the 2019/20 season.
Nuno led his side to the quarter-finals of the competition before losing to Sevilla. In the league, he once more achieved another seventh-place finish.
Nuno left Wolves in the wake of a disappointing 2020/21 campaign in which they finished 13th. He was replaced by former Benfica coach Bruno Lage.
Lage had Wolves flirting with the European qualification during the 2021/22 campaign, but they fell away at the end of the season and finished 10th.
But his stint only lasted 16 months, and he was sacked after a 2-0 defeat to West Ham left Wolves in the Premier League's bottom three at the start of October 2022.
Despite spending over £100million in transfers over the summer, Lage had overseen just one win in the last 15 matches, a run that dated back to April.
After three games at the helm interim boss Steve Davis was left in charge for the rest of 2022, as Wolves failed to lure a high profile permanent manager to the club.
Wolves' biggest rivals
Wolves have a strong and established local rivalry with West Bromwich Albion, with the teams participating in the Black Country Derby.
The two clubs are separated by only 11 miles and have met over 150 times. The rivalry dates back to 1886, with their first match being an FA Cup clash. In the 1953/54 season, the two clubs battled for league honours, with Wolves claiming the title.
Both founding members of the Football League, the two sides battled for the title in the 1950s, with Wolves coming out as champions in 1953/54.
As well as West Brom, Wolves also share local rivalries with Aston Villa and Birmingham City, while the game against Stoke City is also considered a local derby as Wolverhampton was historically in Staffordshire.
Wolves and their fanbase
The Wolves fanbase is particularly passionate, with the club staying connected with their fans by holding a fan parliament that regularly meets officials to discuss important issues.
Wolves have played at Molineux since 1889, with their signature song being "The Happy Wanderer", particularly in the 1950s. It was even a chart hit in 1954 as Wolves won the title.
Wolves are currently owned by Chinese conglomerate group Fosun International, who took control in July 2016. Founder and co-chairman Guo Guanchang is believed to be worth £5bn.
For the year ending May 2021, the club made a pre-tax profit of £18.4m during a period heavily impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.