Todays update, is much more than a summary of the 2023/24 season, it is a comprehensive review of our alignment to the ‘projection’ brand of attacking football, the Holy Grail.

Picking off from the last update from Wolves: The Renaissance series – Midpoint Musings todays post also includes a focus on a few key performers, along with a deep dive into team mentality, there is also a segment on recruitment, and a familiar face returns to the club.

A massive team effort sealed Wolverhampton Wanderers a record finish in the Premier League. The historic points record set by Nuno Espírito Santo‘s 2019/20 team was trumped by 20 points, whilst we also broke records for both goals scored, and goals conceded.

Not too bad for our first season!


The run of form (or lack of) which spanned across both February and March, played a significant role in our inability to secure a Top four finish. As you can see from the above, we only managed to secure 11 points, from the possible 24 on offer.

What the results don’t tell you on paper, the context. Was this a case of 13 points dropped, or was it in fact a determined side, which managed to salvage points, continuing the push for the Top Four.

The above context helps to provide the narrative. Firstly, examining the expected goals, both for and against, we rightly suffered defeat against Liverpool, and the draws against Tottenham, and Brighton were fair results. However, we were fortunate to secure any points against both Manchester City and Arsenal who both dominated the expected goals battle, Arsenal scoring in the 89th minute, was actually more than a fair result. Finally, on another day we could have defeated Chelsea, the xG difference of 0.18, is a clear cut chance, which on another day could have made all the difference.

The main differentiator between ourselves and fourth placed Tottenham, is that Ange Postecoglou’s team drew less games. They also took more risk, which is reflected in both their goal difference (+53), compared to ours (+36) and goals scored, closing the season with 27 more goals than ourselves.


We defiantly need to improve our for away from Molineux, with six of our seven defeats coming on the road. You will note that all losses were against sides which finish the Premier League season inside of the top 10, apart from the freak defeat to Bournemouth.

Again, statistically we closed the season with eight wins, five draws, and six loses on the road. Whilst only posting a positive goal difference of +2 (scoring 22, conceding 20).


Our home form formed a critical component of our success in the Premier League. Across the 2023/24 campaign we managed to establish Molineux as a fortress, where visiting teams struggled to secure points.

I sit here with a smirk on my face knowing that I have managed o close the season with THE best home record in the Premier League. Remarkably we only conceded eight goals in 19 fixtures, and 66% of all goals scored across the 2023/24 campaign were in front of our season ticket holders.

This strong home form was one of the core pillars which formed the foundation of our overall success, we will need to ensure we remain dominant at Molineux if we are to retain our competitive edge across 2024/25, and contend for a place in the Premier League’s Top Four.


A truly exceptional performance from a Wolverhampton Wanderers side that clearly wanted to set the record straight, after the embarrassing defeat earlier in the season (0-5) to Unai Emery’s side.

To make the victory even sweeter, we aligned pretty well with our footballing philosophy.

  • 45% possession vs 55%
  • 45% ball share vs 55%
  • 1.79 NPxG from 10 shots
  • 0.179 xG per shot

The only draw back being that we completed 99 final third passes , compared to Aston Villa’s 75. However, Moussa Diaby’s sending off in the 68th minute certainly helped inflate our numbers.

The fourth and final goals scored by Rayan Aït-Nouri is another fine example of our projection style football in action. Matt Doherty strips Álex Moreno of the ball inside our box, the ball falls to Mario Lemina who progresses the ball to Tommy Doyle, one of four wolves players attacking the vacant space. Doyle carries the ball to the final third, before playing a pass out wide to Rayan, who inverts on the ball, unleashing his shot past Emiliano Martínez from by the penalty spot.

Let the boys play!


Get your passports at the ready, Wolverhampton Wanderers are going on a European adventure. The club were last qualified for a UEFA competition back in 2019/20 when under the guidance of NES Wolves made it tot he Quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League. However, what is this, we received notification in our inbox (not spam or phishing) that Wolves have secured qualification to the UEFA Champions League!

That’s right, fifth place was enough to secure the club direct passage to the new League Phase, the Old Gold will be tested against the finest opponents the continent has to offer, what a time to be alive!


I wanted to provide an overview of some of our key performers from across the 2023/24 campaign, highlighting some of their key outputs which have contributed to the overarching success of the Wolves side.

The form of José Sá across the season was immense, with our Number 1 closing the season with a save percentage of 87%, a figure 2% higher than his expected save percentage. His ability to make an excellent ratio of saves compared to the average seen him finish as the leading goalkeeper with regards to his save percentage and also a significant outlier with regards to his advanced goalkeeping statistics. José also picked up the most clean sheets (20) in the Premier League, beating Guglielmo Vicario of Tottenham by four.

The Algerian has already been under the spotlight for his impressive outputs earlier in the campaign, there is no denying that without Rayan Aït-Nouri this Wolves side would lose a key creative contribution. This is evident in his 1.64 open play key passes per 90, and more importantly 0.30 assists per 90 outputs.

Comparing him to other defenders in the league, Rayan is a highly creative player, who is capable of high quality creating from open play. He has the third highest open play expected assist output per 90 in 2023/24, a figure higher than Trent Alexander-Arnold.

His nine assists across the campaign (1st), paired with his six player of the match awards (2nd), and an average rating of 7.21 (1st), seen Rayan Aït-Nouri crowned both Fan’s Player of the Season, and Young Player of the Season.

Jean-Ricner Bellegarde, for those of you who follow Wolverhampton Wanderers, or even the Premier League, it may have come to a surprise to see the inclusion of the 25 year old in this segment. However, the attacking midfielder demonstrated his ability in the final third, which is highlighted by his 0.20 expected assists per 90, and 0.25 non penalty expected goals. The Frenchman also posted a high pass completion of 88% and rarely lost possession of the ball. He was in fact our second highest goal assist provider (7).

Pedro Neto was the other leading candidate for our player of the season, the Portuguese winger (playing as a Shadow Striker) closed the campaign as our top goal scorer (16), most player of the match awards (7), and joint highest average rating (7.21). His ability to progress play through dribbling was exemplary (3.25 dribbles per 90), and he was also the standard bearer for pressures attempted (11.07). His composure in front of goal also seen him out score his expected goals total by 4.98.

Above is our best eleven, the only surprise omission from our frequent starting eleven is that of Mario Lemina, who was pipped to a spot by Tommy Doyle.


Here’s the moment you have all secretly been waiting for, our performance against the all important ‘Pitch Tilt’ visualisation. As you can see from the below, have some work to do, after closing the season (only just) on the wrong side of both metrics.

If we are to align to this projection style of football, based on this seasons outputs, we need to roughly reduce our final third passes per game by 10, and increase our opponents final third passes per game.

I decided to extrapolate the schedule view for the entire 2023/24 season and manually input the final third passes for, and against. This help to show me how effective we are playing when the shoe is on the other foot.

The data doesn’t make for a good read, as per my headline takeaway.

Now let that sit in…based on the above data, I would expect to see ourselves in a relegation battle, rather than pushing for the Top Four, playing a true brand of projection style attacking football. How can I look to make a minor tweak to the tactic, without placing the results under jeopardy?


An easy way to describe mentality on Football Manager is it is the base attacking intent of the squad. Mentality is a measure of the amount of risk players are willing to take within the confines of the tactical system. The more you turn the dial the less risk aversive players will be.

Risk can be seen to impact any of the following within Football Manager, width, passing directness, tempo, line of engagement, ad defensive line.

Mentality will be the first variable which I will look to put to the test, in search of aligning with this so called projection attacking style. This segment of the post will explore if I should take a more risk aversive approach, or do I play with fire.

I have tested both mentalities for a small sample of games to be in a position to carry out some analytics, this should help to provide you all with a deeper understanding of how this function works within Football Manager.

Above, the headline data from games against both Brighton, and Athletic Club. I have chosen to carry out further analysis on these two games, as we closed each with a very similar possession, and more importantly both sides played in a 4-4-2 formation.


There is a clear difference between the passing networks, with a larger volume of passes being completed between the team. This is likely to be a combination of the impact the mentalities play on both passing directness, and tempo.


Taking the teams average positions into account, there really isn’t too much difference between the two images with regards to both positioning in, and out of possession. The only marginal difference is visible in the compactness between the lines without the ball, as expected a cautious mentality has less spacing between the front three and midfield pivot, likely due to them making less forward runs and moving up and down the pitch as more of a collective/pack.


Again a further two points which I have been clearly able to demonstrate through the above completed pass visuals of the defensive trio. There is both an increased volume of forward passes from the central defenders, and they are completing more forward passes from a higher position on the pitch.


Looking at the above images, I am able to identify two clear differences between comparing the two visuals. Firstly, you will note that when playing under the ‘cautious’ mentality we have decided to deviate away from playing the ball out from the back. It is clear to see that we have opted to play a larger percentage of long goal kicks, likely due to the increased risk of losing possession closer to our own goal.

Secondly, when playing with an ‘attacking’ mentality you will note that we are accumulating more unsuccessful passes in the progression phase. Playing more low percentage passes with the view to entering the final third.


I have decided to play with fire, we will now be playing on an ‘attacking’ mentality. For me the cautious approach looked, and felt within the match engine as if it would result in us playing more passes in the final third, when compared to attacking. This is due to the players adopting a more risk aversive approach, which would see them not want to lose possession and therefore play more passes, looking for that perfect opportunity to score.

I feel the more attacking approach will hopefully steer us more in the direction of the ‘projection’ brand. Yes, we might have more attacks, but these will likely to stem from a more direct progression phase, meaning fewer touches in the final third.

I have also decided to change one of our midfield roles, switching from a BWM on support, to a Anchor on defend, with the view to reducing another body from entering the final third. Finally, an addition of a single player instruction (cross from deep) to our right sided (less creative) wing-back, has been added. This will instruct him to cross from deeper more often, again hopefully reducing the number of touches in the final third.


As with any close of season, there is the opportunity to assess your playing squad, with the view to making the team stronger for the season ahead. This was certainly the case at Wolverhampton, whilst European qualification is great, the increased volume in fixtures could potentially place a significant burden on our playing squad.

Fortunately, Wolves had a few assets on loan, and through the sale of a couple we managed to generate a whopping £63 million.

Gonçalo Guedes secured a move to Al-Nassr Football Club, his departure smashed the club fee for a sale, historically held by Diogo Jota, moving to Liverpool for £42 million back in 2020. A good piece of business, given the 27 year old hadn’t played for Wolves since 2022/23.

The other player to leave the club for a notable fee was Daniel Podence with Olympiacos taking up the option to buy in his loan contract (£4.3 million).

Tommy Doyle made 26 appearances for the club across the season. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we made the decision to sign the 23 year old on a permanent basis from Manchester City. We were able to agree a deal for £2 million with City, despite him having an option to buy for close to five.

The main signing was that of Lamine Camara the 20 yar old joining from FC Metz for a structured deal totalling £22 million (£8m upfront, with a further £7m in 2025, £3.5m in 2026, and £3.5 in 2027).

  • Possession won 13.66
  • Tackles won 2.47
  • Pressures attempted 11
  • Expected assists 0.29

Camara was again cherry picked based on his statistical outputs, his determination, work rate and commitment shine through, along with his ability to pick out a team mate, making him the perfect long-term replacement for Mario Lemina in the role of the Segundo Volante.

Four further signings were made, bringing in some younger players to the club, with eyes set on the future.

  • Bastien Meupiyou – the 18 year old, left-sided centre back was stripped from Nantes 2 for £3 million. Capped at U20 level for France, Bastien is an exciting young prospect who isn’t far from first team level.
  • Efe Korkut – the 18 year old Turkish midfielder joins from Stuttgart for £500k. Unlike Bastien, Efe will be loaned out to affiliate side Grasshoppers to continue his development, he is showing early signs of being a useful signing for the future.
  • Noha Lemina – the younger brother of Mario, Noha was signed on a permanent deal from PSG for £350k. Similarly to Efe, Noha will continue his development out on loan, his first step in his journey to the first team begins with League One Preston North End.
  • Moisés Ramírez – the 24 year old was signed for £2 million from Ecuadorian side Club Independiente del Valle. Moisés is currently the national team ‘Number 1’ and will join Wolves in June 2025, after the decision was made to defer his signing until the end of the next season.


After his departure from Molineux, there was a surprise candidate in the applications for an additional coaching spot, allocated by the Board at the close of season.

Gary O’Neil had been unemployed for over a year, and clearly wanted to get himself back involved in the game. I immediately offered him a contract, the position, my number two.

A determined individual, with exceptional motivational skills, along with a strong tactical knowledge. The recruitment of the 41 year old was a no brainer, especially when considering his preffered formation matches our own.

Welcome back Gary.


  • SteinkelssonFM

    SteinkelssonFM is a distinguished tactician in the Football Manager community, celebrated for bridging the virtual and real football worlds through meticulous analysis. His knack for recreating iconic real-world tactics in-game, like Mário Zagallo’s 1970 Seleção strategy, offers a nostalgic yet innovative gameplay experience. An active blogger on Medium and WordPress, SteinkelssonFM shares his football philosophies and FM adventures, enriching the community with guides on youth development and tactical masterclasses. His contributions extend to the official Football Manager website, affirming his position as a reliable mentor for aspiring virtual football managers. Through his content, SteinkelssonFM continues to blend historical football charm with modern-day FM gameplay.

1 thought on “Wolves: The Renaissance – 2023/24 Season Review

Leave a Reply