Wolves: Nuno Espirito Santo to leave after four years as manager

Nuno Espirito Santo
Nuno managed Valencia and Porto before taking over at Wolves

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo will leave Wolves at the end of the season by mutual agreement.

The 47-year-old Portuguese, who left Porto to take charge in 2017, won the Championship title in his first season.

Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League in the past two seasons, and in September Nuno signed a three-year contract extension to 2023.

"We achieved our goals, we did it with passion and we did it together," he said.

Wolves are 12th heading into the final game of the season at home to Manchester United on Sunday.

"Since the first day we arrived at Compton [training ground], our ambition was to make a positive change and push this football club forward," said Nuno.

"I am proud to say that we did that every single day.

"Sunday will be a very emotional day but I am so happy that the fans will be back in Molineux and we can share one last special moment together, as one pack."

From the Championship to European quarter-finals

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo
Nuno led Wolves to the quarter-finals of the Europa League in their second season in the Premier League

Under Nuno, Wolves collected 99 points on their way to the Championship title in 2017-18, finishing nine points clear of second-placed Cardiff with 30 wins from 46 games.

They continued to impress in the top flight with their slick, attacking football.

Wolves went on to win their Europa League qualifiers to secure a place in the group stage - and a return to European football for the first time in 39 years.

Despite starting their season earlier that most sides and playing 59 games in all competitions, they again finished seventh in the Premier League while reaching the Europa League quarter-finals.

Under Nuno and aided by the influence of agent Jorge Mendes, Wolves signed several Portuguese players, including Joao Moutinho, Diogo Jota, Ruben Neves and Fabio Silva.

"Nuno has brought us some incredibly special moments at Wolves that will never be forgotten but every chapter comes to an end," said Wolves chairman Jeff Shi.

"His loyalty and dedication over the last four years has been immeasurable and we cannot thank him enough for the progress he has made for Wolves.

"Sunday was already going to be a very special day, welcoming our supporters back for the first time in more than a year, but it will also now be a fitting goodbye for someone who will forever remain an important part of Wolves history."

Analysis - 'Some thought Nuno had taken Wolves as far as he could'

Simon Stone, BBC Sport

The shock of Nuno's departure comes more from the timing rather than the fact it is actually happening.

It has been clear all season he has not found it easy working in a pandemic, away from his family and trying to find answers to unexpected problems on the pitch.

There was concern he might walk away at the end of last season, but the club funded an expensive rebuilding exercise, partly through the sale of Diogo Jota to Liverpool.

That was supposed to usher in a more expansive style of play compared to that which had taken the club to successive seventh-placed finishes.

It didn't work. Switches between the trusted three-man back-line to a four, inconsistency in midfield and the horrendous, season-ending injury for Raul Jimenez all combined to create a disappointing campaign that led to grumbles from many Wolves fans that Nuno had taken the team as far as he could.

That judgement seems harsh. In the past 60 years, Wolves have only finished above their present 12th spot in the top flight on seven occasions - and two of them were the past two seasons under Nuno.

Given chief executive Laurie Dalrymple and director of football Kevin Thelwell have already gone, Wolves will have lost three major figures in their rise from the Championship to the Europa League quarter-finals in the space of two years.

Chairman Jeff Shi now has a major task on his hands but, given the influence of agent Jorge Mendes at Molineux, don't be surprised if there is a familiarity of nationality at least about Nuno's successor.

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