Contenders to replace Nuno Espirito Santo as Wolves boss

Bruno Lage, Rafael Benitez and Sergio Conceicao
19:41pm, Fri 21 May 2021
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Wolves are on the hunt for a new manager following Friday’s shock announcement that Nuno Espirito Santo is to leave the club at the end of the season.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some possible contenders to take charge at Molineux.

Bruno Lage

Bruno Lage during his time at Swansea (PA Archive)

Perhaps an unfamiliar name to many in English football, Portuguese coach Lage has emerged as the early odds-on favourite with several bookmakers. Lage most recently spent a season and a half in charge of Benfica, where he also enjoyed eight years coaching in the youth system, and was an assistant to Carlos Carvalhal during his stints at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea.

Rafael Benitez

Rafael Benitez on the touchline (PA Archive)

The Champions League winner is out of work after he departed Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Professional in January. After successful spells with Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle in the Premier League, Benitez may be seen as a safe pair of hands who could get the best out of Wolves’ current crop of players and attract high-quality new additions.

Paulo Fonseca

Paulo Fonseca (PA Wire)

It is perhaps no surprise that there is a Portuguese flavour to the list of early contenders for the role, considering the size of the Portuguese contingent already at Molineux. Fonseca will leave his role at Roma at the end of the season, with compatriot Jose Mourinho heading to the Stadio Olimpico to replace him, and a Premier League job with a hint of home could be an attractive next step.

Sergio Conceicao

Sergio Conceicao at a press conference (PA Archive)

Conceicao succeeded Nuno in the Porto hot-seat four years ago and finds himself in the running to fill his boots once more. The 46-year-old Portugal winger has led the club to two Portuguese titles since then, having arrived on the back of a six-month stint in charge of Nantes in Ligue 1 – his only job outside Portugal to date.

Julen Lopetegui

Julen Lopetegui on the touchline (PA Archive)

Lopetegui almost became Wolves boss in 2016 but instead took the Spain job. He had been courted by new owners Fosun ahead of their takeover but was handed the reins of the national team on the same day the purchase of the club was completed. Lopetegui is now in charge of Sevilla, where he won last season’s Europa League, and he may be considered an outsider for the Wolves role this time around.

Others

The likes of Eddie Howe and Frank Lampard will be mentioned for most Premier League jobs at the moment but have been pushed down the betting by a sizeable Portuguese contingent on this occasion. Andre Villas-Boas is something of an outsider among his compatriots, despite having Premier League experience with Chelsea and Tottenham, while Vitor Pereira is another name fancied by some.

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