Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Tottenham Hotspur under the Molineux lights on Wednesday as they try and earn themselves a place in round four of the Carabao Cup.
After a desperately disappointing performance in defeat against Brentford this past weekend and just one win to their name in the Premier League - it’s a game that suddenly feels like it has a bit more riding on it.
Not to mention the return of ex-manager Nuno Espirito Santo who has already beaten Wanderers once this year and it has all the ingredients to spice up what would have been beforehand, to some, just another cup game.
Wanderers are the ninth most successful club in domestic English history with 13 major trophy wins.
With that said, you have to date back over 40 years for their last “major” piece of silverware. It was this very competition, the Football League Cup which they most recently got their hands on, in the 1979/80 season.
For those old enough to remember, it was a 1-0 victory over one of the great Nottingham Forest sides at Wembley. Over 96,000 were in attendance to see the game. Wolves, captained by the late Emlyn Hughes, secured the win when Andy Gray prodded home from close range in the 67th minute.
The 1980 triumph was the second of two League Cup’s that Wanderers have in their cabinet - the first coming six years earlier in the 1973/74 season versus Manchester City.
Wolves recent history in the competition isn’t something to shout about, though. The furthest they have reached in the competition since 1980 is the Quarter-Final - once. A 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the 1995/96 season.
In fact, this year marks a decade since a Wolves team even made it to the Round of 16. For a club the size of Wanderers, it’s simply not good enough.
Will this year mark a change in attitude under Bruno Lage? Do the fans even really care if they progress at this point? Here’s what some of them thought about it all.
‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was Lage’s Wolverhampton Wanderers and sadly some fans think different’
A cup run gives us more opportunities for squad players to develop under Lage’s more attacking style and players like Fabio Silva to actually prove his expensive price tag that arguably he hasn’t yet. I think management and tactics take time to implement and the more games we have the better this transition can be. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was Lage’s Wolverhampton Wanderers and sadly some fans think different.
This season hasn’t started as we all would have hoped. Though most games we’ve played really well and look like a real threat going forward (excluding Brentford) Lage mentioned his team need to give the fans something to shout about, a cup run will certainly help with that.
I was (un)lucky enough to go watch Wolves v Watford at Wembley in the FA Cup semi final and whilst it was a memorable experience, I hope we can rid of that nightmare and actually hold onto a lead and get us into a final for the first time in many generations. Also, beggars can’t be choosers.
I would love us to finish top seven again but realistically I’ll bite your hand off if we finished top ten. A cup run will certainly give us something positive to build on. I still believe in Lage, we’re building and 80% of what we’ve seen on the pitch has been a breath of fresh air from the end of the Nuno era. Positional changes need to be made (from back three to back four) and we know that’s Lage’s plan. I fully believe our time is coming! (Andrew Irving - @andrewjirving)
‘In my lifetime we’ve never lifted a domestic cup so it would be fantastic to see us take these competitions seriously’
I’d say every cup competition is important to me as a Wolves fan. In my lifetime we’ve never lifted a domestic cup so it would be fantastic to see us take these competitions seriously and possibly an easier route to get back into European football.
I think Bruno Lage will take this fairly seriously. Looking at his mixed start so far, games like this one against Spurs can help improve morale and gain a bit of confidence, which Wolves seem to be lacking at the moment.
‘I don’t believe we’ll get higher than 11th or 12th so why not go for the cups’
In other seasons I’d have said the Carabao Cup isn’t that important because of wanting to push up the table to get Europe. But seeing as it looks like we won’t be pushing for that seventh spot I think it is important that we make an effort in it.
The poor start has affected my view when it comes to the table more than the cups. I don’t believe we’ll get higher than 11th or 12th so why not go for the cups.
I think Lage will rotate but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I’m hoping for him to try out a back four formation which includes Boly and Mosquera/Kilman which I think could be our strongest pairing, so he’ll take it seriously but also use it as an opportunity to try other things.
I’m not sure if I’d take something like 17th and a Carabao Cup because of the aesthetics of coming that low in the league, but midtable, kind of 14th and above and a League Cup would be an incredible success. (@BrunoLages442)
‘Not one player played well on Saturday, so there’s definitely a big opportunity for these players to prove themselves’
I’d say it does mean something, it’s probably the competition that we have the most chance in, as a lot of teams don’t take it serious!
I think the poor start does make us look at it differently, it’s a chance for us to immediately put Saturday right and like I said, to progress past a top team and give ourselves a chance of getting far in the competition.
I think Bruno will take it seriously, he’ll definitely switch it up a little, give other fringe players a chance to get themselves into the starting 11 for the Southampton game. He’ll be quite right to shuffle, too, not one player played well on Saturday, so there’s definitely a big opportunity for these players to prove themselves!
Wolves have been under strict FFP for the last two years which requires us to break-even, so no money has been spent, but that is over next year. So another year of consolidation in the Premier League wouldn’t be the end of the world if we won some silverware, but I think only if we won silverware would that be acceptable as a lot of top players could leave next season.
I feel for Bruno as he hasn’t had the backing financially to take us to the next level, but the football we’ve been playing needs to be trusted and backed. (Dan - @WeAreWolvesFans)
‘Silverware is something that gets talked about for years, you’ll be talking to your kids about the cup run’
I’ve mainly always seen the cup as a bit of an inconvenience at the start and mainly because Wolves never take it seriously. This season regardless of the league, the indications are that we are taking it seriously. An opportunity to get to Wembley would be special.
We have never really had a decent Carabao Cup run so I really want to see us go far, I’d be very shocked if we don’t select a strong team against Spurs. It won’t be easy at all but we want revenge. Silverware is something that gets talked about for years, you’ll be talking to your kids about the cup run, you won’t talk to them about a low season where nothing happens. (@wwfc_bibb)
‘I think all fans believe that the goals will come and cup games are a chance to work out the remaining kinks’
As a realistic fan, it’s unlikely that we will make the top four any time soon, regardless of how well we play or how good Brunoball is. But, it’s clear that the big four teams see this tournament as not important to them and so there is a chance that we could win silverware for the first time in 40 years. I think that is very much worth pursuing, provided we aren’t fighting relegation.
Realistically I think we place ~10th this year, but we could very easily make it to the semis or finals of the cups. That would be an enjoyable accomplishment.
I don’t think we’ve really had such a poor start. We lost the first three games 0-1 but dominated possession and attack. We then won a harder fought game against Watford and stumbled against Brentford. But to play as well as we did against Leicester, Spurs and Man United is something to be very proud of. I think the cups are a good chance for this team to develop some confidence.
I think all fans believe that the goals will come and cup games are a chance to work out the remaining kinks. This is not to say that I think the current stating 11 should start going forward. I wouldn’t be against seeing Adama as an impact sub again, since he is too one-note for me. I also think Podence and Hwang need to be starting more, since they are the most creative and make our best chances. I’d like to see them start. (@ButNeto)
And the rest...
Success in any competition shouldn’t be overlooked. I think after the poor start, a good cup run could give the players a lift and allows the players not used so far to fight for a place. I think Bruno will take it serious, he played quite a strong team at Forest away and I’m sure he’ll want a win Wednesday night. (Luke Barratt - @lukee_barratt)
Cups are not important, we need to concentrate on league. I don’t think Bruno will take it too seriously, maybe he will play the younger, less experienced players. I would take silverware even if we had a worse Premier League finish, but not for relegation! It would be nice to have something to celebrate! (Donna Alos - @DonnaAlosRadio)
As a smaller club silverware is always important for the club and fans. He [Bruno] seems to have a different idea with regards to the importance of cup games compared to Nuno (although he’s only had one cup game so far). Silverware is a dream, it gives us our first trophy since 1980 and also European qualification. (Franco Vernava - @franco_vernava)