note: all players mentioned in this can be viewed in this imgur album: here.
Welcome to a slightly different update. I’ve returned to Wolves in a bid to create a properly dominant side, based on attacking football. Reading records from FMers on Twitter about games unbeaten has made me realise that I’ve never actually gone a season unbeaten on any Football Manager, and it’s about time I did. With £300m in the transfer kitty, my Wolves side should be more than capable of doing just that. So, this article will hopefully allow me to not only get my thoughts down on ‘paper’, but to also illustrate the methodology I employ when overhauling my squad.
The reason a squad overhaul is necessary is the relative failings of last season. Whilst we won the Community Shield, European Super Cup and Club World Cup in the first half of the season, we were only able to add the FA Cup to this. Falling to PSG in the quarter finals of the Champions League was frustrating, however, losing the title for the first time in eight years was even more so. This was compounded by the 92 point tally we recorded being enough to win the league in any other Premier League season except this one. And yet, Man City rack up 94. Great.
So here we are.
The first stage of the overhaul is to determine your tactic. When you’re a club at the top of the world, and a fantastically large transfer budget, you have the luxury of being able to build a team around a philosophy. This may not always be possible if you’re performing an overhaul whilst working your way up the leagues, for example. However, in my case, I can. And as previously mentioned, I’ll be going for an attacking tactic with the aim of scoring, on average, three goals per game. I have a number of talented central defenders, so conceding two or less goals per game should not be too much of a problem, even if we do end up going fairly gung ho.
I’ve decided that my formations will be my crooked 4-2-3-1, however, I’ll be replacing the anchor man at DM with a playmaker moving up to CM, and making the RCM a Jack Wilshere-style all-action midfielder. Alongside this, I’ll have a fairly standard Pellegrini-esque 4-2-2-2 with plenty of attacking movement. I’ll then use a large number of different 3atb formations as my third choice, depending on how many suitable central defenders I find myself with. If it’s successful in pre-season, then I’ll look to play a 3-2-3-2, with two defensive midfielders, a central midfielder, two wingers, and two strikers. I won’t have a particular passing or footballing style as I’ll adapt it depending on the oppostion.
Now that I’ve figured out the tactic I want to use, it’s time to figure out which gaps I have fulfilled. And the first place I always go then is to the Contracts Expiry tab. This is because I have a policy of getting rid of any players that are 28 or over, once their contract hits a single year remaining. The only player I’ve broken this rule for is Nicolas Dalmolin, the Inverse Wing Back – he’s special.
This year, there are plenty of tough decisions too. The three players over the age of 28 to have contracts expire at the end of the year are all key players in the team – arguably the team’s three best – Miguel Cuevas, Nicolas Dalmolin and Daniel Santa Cruz. I’ll immediately remove Dalmolin from the equation, as I’ve already decided I’m still not ready to part from him.
Immediately, I decided that Cuevas had to go. An absolutely fantastic central defender cum anchor man, he’s been the rock in the league’s best defense since he joined at the turn of the decade for £29.5m from AC Milan. However, last season there were signs of decline already. From 2022-2025, Cuevas racked up seasonal average ratings of 8.18, 8.38 and 8.11 with 10, 11 and 11 Player of the Match performances, respectively. Last season, these dropped to 7.68 and 1. It’s with much sadness that I need to do this, but with our switch to a new brand of attacking football, it’s time Cuevas was moved on. For a hefty fee, though, no doubt.
Daniel Santa Cruz was a much, much tougher decision. In the last year of his contract, he wanted £170k p/w, and I have a general rule of keeping players below £100k, let alone £170k. However, as the best deep-lying playmaker in the world, I’ve decided to keep him on. His 18 positioning in particular is handy as he’ll be playing as a DLP – Defend this season as the deepest midfielder. In my bid for three goals a game, I’ve broken my rule, again. He’s already beginning to lose value, but I’ll take the hit, and get rid of him next season.
The next men in to sign contract renewals were Hamza Nouri and Remy Maurel, arguably the club’s two brightest youth prospects. Nouri has been a semi-regular in the team for a couple of seasons now, and Maurel did excellently to get 28 games in an immensely talented attacking midfield group. The two had average ratings of 7.39 and 7.44 last season.
After this, there were two young French players that I wasn’t sure whether I’d sell on or whether I’d keep – Amara Kouroumakan and Merouane Rahem. However, eventually I decided that I’d keep both. Kouroumakan spent last season on-loan at Chelsea and performed fairly well in his 12 league appearances. I’ll be looking to ship him out again this season, with hopefully a slight increase in his games. Rahem hangs on by the skin on his teeth. His flexibility at LB, LWB, LM, RB and RM means he’s handy backup and offers something different with his long throw capability. He’ll probably have minimal minutes next season but he’s a handy guy to have around.
After contract renewals, the next place I go is on the search for unnecessary squad options. I do this position-by-position and role-by-role. It’s important to do this after you’ve established what formations you’ll be using and what philosophy you’ll be implementing so that you can build your squad around that. A theory that I massively buy into is one suggested by furiousuk from the SI forums, where he emphasizes the impact that creating contract can make, here. And it’s a theory that reactionary managers such as myself tend to buy into as you can adapt your team depending on the way you want to play against different opposition. As furious also mentions, I’m looking to have at least two players for each slot, with a third backup who is able to play there.
#1 Daniel de Waard
– Rosario di Bartolo
– Keith Belford
I went through the 2025/26 season with two goalkeepers, with Daniel de Waard a clear number one. Despite being only 19 years of age, he’s already a fantastic keeper, and has the potential to be the best I’ve ever had. Having already racked up over 100 appearances for Wolves, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on to break all the appearance records.
However, after letting Marcus Dawes go for free at the end of last season, it’s time for a new #2 keeper. Both di Bartolo and Belford are showing promising signs and both went off on loan last season, to Fulham and Celtic respectively. Both performed reasonably well. However, this season I’ll look to retain di Bartolo in the hope that Belford will develop slightly better and won’t be wasted as much on the bench.
OUT (loan): Keith Belford
IN (/loan?): #3 goalkeeper
#2 Shawn Malfleury
– Gheorghe Petrea
Since signing in 2020, Shawn Malfluery has always been my first choice right-back, and I’ve often had very little cover there. Even last season, we had to use Nicolas Dalmolin and Merouane Rahem on the right when Malfluery was out due to a lack of backup. However, this season we’ve brought in young Petrea from the Stade Rennais production line as we look for a succession plan post-Malfleury. I’ll look to play Petrea in the cups and get him tutored to work on his personality, which is currently ‘Fairly Ambitious’.
Malfleury is particularly flexible in that he can play as an attacking, supportive or defensive full-back all very well. But in keeping with the creating contrast theme, I’d like to bring in a full-back who is a genuinely excellent crosser of the ball from deep. Then against teams that we are able to physically dominate, playing wingers and attacking full-backs with a big target man would be an option.
IN (/loan?): rotation option with high crossing (high dribbling is a bonus).
#5 Serge Francois
#21 Andre Demuth
#28 Santiago Cuello
– Mohammad Tran
– Gheorghe Petrea
The centre of my defense has always been overflowing with talent, so much so that Miguel Cuevas (now sold) and Andre Demuth had been asked to play as an Anchor Man in my crooked 4-2-3-1. And it’s certainly not different now, even though Cuevas has been shipped on. In Francois, Fred and Cuello I have three world-class central defenders who I’ll be looking to rotate every week. Between them I have plenty of contrast in that Fred always plays as a ball-playing defender, Cuello always plays as a straight central defender, and Francois can play as either.
Because those three are all such talented players, I’ll look to loan out Tran and Demuth in order to give them proper game time. Demuth played 15 games last season but with my removal of the anchor man role, that would be lowered this season. Tran has a reasonable season on loan at Leverkusen, however I’ll be looking for him to play even more regularly this year.
To complement the three aforementioned central defenders I’ll look at bringing in a specialist stopper, so that teams who play with a #10 won’t find too much space between midfield and defense with the lack of a DM or Anchor Man.
OUT (loan): Mohammad Tran
OUT (loan): Andre Demuth
IN (/loan?): Central Defender – Stopper
#3 Emir Sen
#17 Merouane Rahem
#24 Nicolas Dalmolin
Not much to talk about here. Plenty of contrast, three good options. No changes needed and we can move on. Love it.
Central Midfield (includes CDMs and CAMS)
#7 Daniel Santa Cruz
#8 Ridiger Sadiku
#14 Kamil Witkowski
#20 Remy Maurel
#30 Carles Coromina
– Amara Kouroumakan
– Louis Rousset
– Loic Furlan
The centre of midfield is a particularly tricky area for me this off-season. That’s because whilst we’ve got a number of talented advanced midfielders, we lack the quality deeper, Santa Cruz aside. This is because I’ve already decided to sell Carles Coromina and Assis, as neither fit a role in my tactic, and Coromina just isn’t good enough.
As the playmaker will play as the deepest midfielder, I’m looking at Santa Cruz starting with backup from Louis Rousset and Ridiger Sadiku on very desperate occasions. Alongside him, in the 4-2-3-1, I’ll be looking to find an all-action CM who is suitable at attacking and defending, who can become a key member of the squad for years to come. I’ll probably spend a fairly large chunk of money there. I’d also like to bring in a young player to act as his backup.
Kouroumakan and Furlan will go out on loan in a bid to gain more vital experience.
I’ve also made the tough decision of selling Kamil Witkowski. He’s been absolutely outstanding but the number of playmakers in the side is going to decrease next season as we attempt to fit more finishers into the side, and unfortunately he fills the same role as Ridiger Sadiku who is just better. It was after much deliberation amongst those on Twitter that Witkowski was chosen, as Franca manages to keep his place due to his flexibility and contrast with Sadiku. However, I should get upwards of £45m for Witkowski.
OUT: Carles Coromina
OUT: Kamil Witkowski 😦
OUT (loan): Amara Kouroumakan
OUT (loan): Loic Furlan
IN: All-action central midfielder
IN: Backup for above.
#18 Alan Correa
We’re really struggling for wingers. For the past couple of seasons, since selling Raheem Sterling to Chelsea, we’ve played with a RCAM instead of a RAM and I’ve therefore never really properly replaced him (Juninho and Correa are both LWs). However, this season I’ll look to bring in a right-winger or two.
However, I am also looking at replacing Juninho. This is because Juninho and Correa are very, very similar in terms of the way they play. And in keeping with the theme of creating contrast, I need one out-and-out winger and an inside forward. Therefore, Juninho will unfortunately have to go. I like Juninho, but Correa is perhaps the best proper winger I’ve ever had, and still has a star of potential to grow.
IN: Left-sided Inside Forward.
IN: Right winger 1.
IN: Right winger 2 (not essential?)
#9 Hamza Nouri
#10 Agustin Osuna
#29 Gilles Blanc
– David Barnes
– Alan Valotti
As for striking options, it would appear we’re quite well covered. Last season, Luizinho, Barnes and Valotti all went out on loan to Leeds, West Ham and Dortmund respectively. Barnes and Valotti performed well, however Luizinho was the pick of the bench as he single-handedly kept Leeds in the Premier League. And for those of you who read my False Eight article, yes, it’s that Luizinho.
We rotated Nouri and Osuna last season, depending on the situation. This season, I’ll be looking to keep Luizinho on as well as the aforementioned duo. Combined with Franca who provides a valuable deep-lying forward option, we have plenty of contrast and don’t need to bring anyone in. The youngsters will go out on loan and I’ll look to get some money for Valotti, with a buy back clause.
OUT (loan): Gilles Blanc
OUT (loan): David Barnes
OUT: Alan Valotti
I’ll be back soon as I come to the end of my Summer transfer window. I’ll let you know which players I sign and how they fulfill the roles I want them to. I imagine this is perhaps a slightly boring update for a lot of you but I feel it properly illustrates the process I go through when I want to really alter my squad.