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Next Wolves Manager: Gary O'Neil takes over from Julen Lopetegui

Less than a week before the start of the new Premier League season, Wolves have parted ways with manager Julen Lopetegui, who has been replaced by former Bournemouth boss Gary O'Neil.

Lopetegui officially took charge of Wanderers in November last year and led them to 13th spot in the Premier League, so what could his departure mean for the club?

WhatEngland Premier League 2023/24
When11th August 2023 - 19th May 2024
How to watchSky Sports / TNT Sports / Amazon Prime
Odds - RelegationLuton 1/3, Sheff Utd 4/7, Wolverhampton 9/4, Bournemouth 5/2, Nottm Forest 5/2

Lopetegui exit finally confirmed

Wolves were in a precarious position when Lopetegui, who has previously managed Spain, FC Porto and Sevilla, took charge in November 2022.

The club were rock-bottom of the standings and looked likely contenders for relegation, but after the Qatar World Cup, Lopetegui won four of their subsequent seven matches to move the club out of the drop zone.

It turned out to be a respectable season for Wolves, who also made the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, but there have since been rumours about Lopetegui's exit following speculation about the club's financial situation.

Club chairman Jeff Shi insisted that Wolves must be cautious in their spending to comply with the Premier League's financial fair play regulations and, as a result, they have allowed a handful of players to depart and been limited in who they can bring in.

Ruben Neves was the most notable departure, moving to Al-Hilal for £47million, while Nathan Collins was sold to Brentford for £23m and Raul Jimenez has gone to Fulham for £5.5m.

On the flip side, arrivals have been few and far between with free agent Matt Doherty's return to the club their most notable piece of business.

With the club reluctant to spend, it is believed Lopetegui has wanted out of the club and talks over his departure from the club took place on Tuesday.

Wolves expected to be in relegation mix

With Lopetegui's exit and a concerning lack of recruitment this transfer window, Wolves have been priced at 9/4 to be relegated from the Premier League this season.

Only newly-promoted pair Luton and Sheffield United are above them in the relegation betting at 1/3 and 4/7 respectively, and the future looks bleak for Wolves, who have finished seventh, seventh, 13th, 10th and 13th in their five seasons in the Premier League since promotion in 2018.

Despite their respectable finish, the warning signs were there for Wolves last season with the club having lost 19 matches in the Premier League, while their return of 31 goals was the lowest in the division - even basement boys Southampton (36) scored more.

O'Neil could face another survival mission

Wolves appeared to have an immediate replacement for Lopetegui lined up in the form of O'Neil, who led Bournemouth to safety in the Premier League last term.

Despite the club's 15th-placed finish, O'Neil was consequently sacked by the Cherries in June and replaced by another Spaniard, Andoni Iroala.

O'Neil initially took charge of Bournemouth in a caretaker role following Scott Parker's sacking in August 2022, but was kept up on after having been nominated for Premier League manager of the month in September.

He was given a permanent 18-month contract at the end of November and led Bournemouth to survival against the odds in April this year after a run of five wins in seven matches.

Crucially that streak featured wins over fellow relegation contenders such as Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton.

Having experienced and survived a relegation battle firsthand as manager should do O'Neil plenty of favours, but his managerial CV is light with Bournemouth having been his first club.

Indeed, the chances of Wolves's survival could hinge on what further business they conclude before the end of the transfer window, with their attack an obvious priority following last season's poor goal return and the loss of last term's joint-top scorer Neves.

Forward Matheus Cunha's loan deal with the club has since been made permanent, but he scored just twice in 17 Premier League appearances last season and Wolves likely need to bring in a few more players to stand a chance of survival.

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