They say that a football season is more of a marathon than a sprint. In the case of Wolves, they’ve been on an ultra marathon because they want to squeeze every drop from the 2019-20 campaign.
No one could have predicted the pandemic that caused a three-month hiatus in the middle of their campaign, yet they faced a daunting task when the match list was drawn up.
After all, they had to start pre-season training in June – well ahead of most other Premier League games.
Nuno spoke to the Wolves players during a practice session last summer
Wolves took on crusaders in their first Europa League qualifying match on July 25
That was on the back of those who had to keep Europa League commitments after finishing seventh in the Premier League – with Manchester City winning the FA Cup.
While other teams like Burnley have played in the Europa League qualifying games over the past few seasons because they chose not to tackle the sizeable workload, Wolves probably never gave up so easily.
After all, their Europa League commitments were an opportunity to play continental league for the first time since 1980.
So while doing their exercises in the sun in June, they faced a first game of the season on July 25 against Northern Irish side crusaders.
Before that, they even squeezed two games in the Premier League Asia Trophy on July 17 and July 20 against Newcastle and Manchester City.
Wolves drew with Olympiacos in its last game before the season was ended by coronavirus
In their first games they overcame two-legged crusaders with a total of 6-1.
They then traveled to Yeravan in Armenia to meet Pyunik on August 8 before playing their opening game against Leicester on August 11 – meaning they had played three competitive games before the domestic season even started.
In March of this year, BBC expert Garth Crooks commented, ‘I have to admit, I thought Wolves’ Europa League commitments would discover them. ‘
At first, their tough schedule seemed to be a problem – they didn’t win any of their first six games – but over time, they started collecting points and became challenging for the Champions League Premier League places.
What probably helped is that they left the Carabao Cup after just two games and lost to Aston Villa in the fourth round on October 30.
Adama Traore fights with Declan Rice for the ball in their first game after the restart
They then flew through the Europa League group stage, winning four, drawing one and losing one of their six games.
Nuno and his side also played only two games in the FA Cup – the third round and the third round of the replay – meaning they could fully focus on the Europa League knockouts when they turned around on February 20.
They have played three games in that phase and have a 1-1 total in their game against Olympiacos after a draw in Greece.
That was their last game before the coronavirus break on March 12. They then waited until June 20 to play again and beat West Ham.
In total, with 33 Premier League games played before coming across Sheffield United on Wednesday evening, they played two FA Cup matches, two Carabao Cup matches, six Europa League qualifying matches, six group stage matches and three knockout matches, played 52 matches over 50 weeks .
Their last game against Arsenal in the Premier League was their 33rd league game
It will also be 349 days since their first game of the season when they line up at Bramall Lane on Wednesday.
They will also play five Premier League games and possibly four Europa League games, as the remaining rounds, after their return game, will be played in a single-leg format.
This means that if they reach the final in Cologne on August 21, they will be able to play a total of 39 games in a 393-day period.
That would be a season of 56 weeks, 9,432 hours, 565,920 minutes or 33,955,220 seconds.
Still, they may not have the longest season in English football in 2019-20.
Liverpool, Exeter City, Portsmouth and Manchester United have also all played 52 games and in the case of the two Premier League games, five more are guaranteed.
Leander Dendoncker has played the most games for Wolves, with 50 appearances
United could also play more in the Europa League depending on how far they are from Wolves while still in the FA Cup.
Manchester City, at 51 games, could also lead Wolves to most games if they get far in the FA Cup and Champions League – although there are fewer games left in Europe’s elite club league.
Leander Dendoncker, Joao Moutinho and Conor Coady are their most used players, who have all played 50 times, while Raul Jimenez, with 24 goals in 48 games, is their top scorer in all competitions.
Their Portuguese manager will also prioritize matches soon. Winning the Europa League guarantees a place in the Champions League – which would be a huge result for them.
Wolves are nearing the end of their marathon, but they may still not be the farthest. As they approach the finish line, there are others to watch for just over their shoulder.
They could finish the season on August 21 if they reach the Europa League final