3 key takeaways from Wolves' pre-season tour of Alicante
Wolves players celebrating Daniel Podence's strike against Besiktas on Saturday evening. (Photo Credits: Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

After a disappointing end to the 2021/22 campaign, Bruno Lage's men have enjoyed an encouraging start to their pre-season preparations. The La Lucia Summer Cup will not go down as the most prestigious honour in Wolverhampton Wanderers history, but it has caused excitement within a fanbase that has been starved of free-flowing football for the past few seasons. 

We take a look at three key talking points that will be discussed from Benidorm to the Black Country.

  • A change of system

Considered a long-awaited change by many Wolves fans, the five man defence has finally been dropped by Lage and his staff. Wolves lined up in a 4-3-3 formation in their 4-0 demolition of Deportivo Alaves before adopting a 4-2-3-1 in their 3-0 victory over Turkish giants Besiktas

With an extra man in midfield, the Molineux outfit have looked a serious threat in attack, with Raul Jimenez feeling less emphasis to create chances of his own. The trio of Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence and Morgan Gibbs-White have thrived so far, with their interchanging positions and one-touch passing adding a greater tempo to their sides play. Pressing teams high has also been a feature of the new system, with two goals against Besiktas coming after winning the ball in the final third.

Recent summer arrival Nathan Collins has also impressed in Lage's new-look side. The Irishman partnered Max Kilman on Saturday night, forming a defensive partnership that looked comfortable both in and out of possession. 

http://Embed from Getty Images New man Collins talking to Lage in pre-season (Photo Credits: Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

  • The importance of Gibbs-White

Gibbs-White's stellar Championship form last season will have shocked a few fans, who had seemingly called time on the youngster's Wolves career. 12 goals and 10 assists dragged Sheffield United from relegation battlers to promotion hopefuls, with the England Under-21 international becoming the key figure in their attack. 

His return to Molineux has been overshadowed with talks of him leaving the club, but his pre-season performances suggest Wolves should do all they can to retain him. Deployed on the right wing, Gibbs-White's link-up play has allowed his side to transition from midfield to attack with much more ease than in previous seasons. His willingness to run at defenders, paired with the ability to drop into a midfield three, has seen the Staffordshire-born player become a key piece of the Wolves jigsaw. 

When drifting inside with the ball, the 22-year-old creates space for on-rushing fullback Jonny Otto to exploit, creating another angle of attack. With no news of an imminent exit, supporters will be hopeful to see one of their own in the old gold and black this season.

http://Embed from Getty Images Gibbs-White in action for Wolves (Photo Credits: Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

  • Weakness in depth

A thin squad has plagued Wolves ever since promotion in 2018, but it is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer. In their most recent friendly, Wolves' bench ran bare with high quality options, with Luke Cundle being their most experienced attacking option with 4 Premier League appearances. Connor Ronan and Theo Corbeanu, who were also on the bench, enjoyed loan spells last season, but are both yet to start a top flight game in England.

The first-half substitution of Jimenez on Saturday evening has fans waiting nervously to hear the severity of the injury. With Fabio Silva on loan at Anderlecht and Patrick Cutrone out of the first team fold, supporters will be hoping that it was nothing more than a precautionary change.  Whatever the outcome, many are calling for Fosun to bolster the squad with the addition of a new striker.

Wolves begin their Premier League campaign on August 6th with a visit to Elland Road, facing a Leeds United side who only secured survival on the final day of last season. While the early signs have been promising, there is still a long road ahead before Wolves can mount a season-long challenge to those who are already in European competition.