Transfer

Worrying update on Gary O’Neil’s Wolves future as West Ham claim made

At the start of the season, Gary O’Neil and Wolves looked to be in trouble. Julen Lopetegui had plunged the club into a crisis by resigning just three days before the season started, and the squad looked to have got weaker rather than stronger over the summer transfer window, with big names like Matheus Nunes and Ruben Neves leaving. Even by the transfer deadline, they still had the second-lowest net spend of any side in the Premier League.

Opta’s supercomputer predicted that Wolves would finish in 14th place, but some journalists thought this combination of circumstances could lead to relegation after the club faced the threat of going down the previous season.

How Opta predicted the Premier League bottom half would look

Rank

Club

11

West Ham United

12

Crystal Palace

13

Fulham

14

Wolverhampton Wanderers

15

Burnley

16

Nottingham Forest

17

Everton

18

Bournemouth

19

Sheffield United

20

Luton Town

But now into Matchweek 26, O’Neil has managed to steer Wolves into a comfortable spot in mid-table. Rather than peering nervously over their shoulder, they’ve been able to look up at the sides around them, and European football isn’t out of the question. Level on points with Chelsea, they’re only four behind Brighton in seventh.


O'Neil-Wolves

While much of the Molineux faithful will be delighted by this apparent overachievement, it also carries a risk. Clubs with existing or upcoming managerial vacancies may have taken note of O’Neil’s exploits so far, and included him on their shortlist of candidates.

One side who may need to look for a new boss is West Ham, with David Moyes out of contract at the end of the season. Moyes says he’s been offered a new deal but won’t make a decision on his future until the campaign has concluded.

Insider talks up chances of O’Neil West Ham return

Speaking to GiveMeSport, transfer insider Dean Jones warned Wolves that the “sharks” would begin to circle in the midst of their impressive season. He reckons that West Ham may be interested in O’Neil, having previously employed him as a player between 2011 and 2013.

He said: “It’s a weird situation that Wolves are in right now. At the start of the 2023/24 season, their biggest worry was being relegated. Now, they are in a pretty comfortable situation, but the guys that have gotten them into that place will now be looked at by some other sharks across the Premier League, looking to eat up Wolves and get them out of there.

“I think O’Neil has done a brilliant job so far, and it wouldn’t totally surprise me if West Ham did end up having to look back into the Premier League if that was the sort of manager that did interest them from the top flight.”

Wolves face O’Neil and Neto concerns this summer

It’s not just Wolves where O’Neil has shone. He also did an excellent job in his first gig at Bournemouth, taking over a side that predecessor Scott Parker had said was “ill-equipped” to compete at the top level and guiding it to 15th place, five points clear of the bottom three.

Related

“First time” – Reporter shares big update on Matheus Cunha’s Wolves injury

Cunha has been one of Wolves’ best players this season.

While Bournemouth ultimately decided to go a different way by hiring Andoni Iraola in the summer, O’Neil is becoming increasingly hot property in the managerial sphere. After losing Nunes and Neves last year, Wolves may have hoped for more stability this time around, but they could yet have to field interest in both their coach and their star player.

Pedro Neto, who has provided more assists (nine) than anybody else in the squad this season, is apparently expecting to be given the chance to leave and has instructed agent Jorge Mendes to start lining up some options. Clearly, when you’re a mid-table side, success can come at a price.

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