THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Face Norwich at Molineux today

icon wolvessad10 August ~ The acrimony of Wolves' previous match in the Championship feels an awful long time ago. That was the day in May 2013 when the club's relegation was confirmed at Brighton, Roger Johnson couldn't even give his shirt away and Jamie O'Hara was derided by both sets of supporters. Tellingly, only two players who featured there will be in the team to face Norwich on Sunday. Kenny Jackett's steadfast refusal to reintegrate the so-called "bomb squad" – a group of highly paid players training separately from the rest – is well-documented.

As well as O'Hara and Johnson, there is Kevin Doyle and Stephen Ward plus a host of little-seen foreign figures from the failed Stale Solbakken experiment (the Norwegian was manager for the first five months of 2012-13). They remain on the payroll, compromising the club's ability to reinvest. As a result, but for low-key additions in the injured Tommy Rowe and free transfer Rajiv van la Parra, Jackett must rely on the group he assembled for the successful League One campaign. That means we will witness the results of an intriguing case study on the importance of momentum.

After all, these Wolves players arrive in the Championship with minor reputations and the experience to match. Arguably the club's most talented player is Michael Jacobs, discarded by Derby County for a small fee, while last season's top scorer Nouha Dicko was deemed not good enough for Wigan Athletic. These are young hopefuls with plenty to prove at Championship level.

Will it be an eye-opening experience with defensive errors punished more readily and attacking opportunities not so prevalent? Or will team spirit pull them through? Jackett insists the Premier League is the target and the examples of recent back-to-back promotions for Norwich and Southampton are thrown around Wolverhampton enthusiastically. Wolves' tally of 103 points last season certainly suggests that's rather more than mere blind optimism.

However, it is a very different incarnation of the Canaries that they face on the opening weekend and much will become clearer for it. Norwich's three-season stay in the top flight mirrored that of Wolves before them and they are now saddled with figures from that disappointing experience. Reputation and pedigree suggests Norwich will show why they were two divisions above their opponents just a few short months ago. Momentum and confidence would indicate that Wolves can show how little that can count for in the Championship. One way or the other, today at Molineux will provide some clues as to which way this season will go. Adam Bate

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