Where are they now? Wolves’ final XI before the 2016 Fosun takeover

Nostalgia

It’s fair to say a lot has changed at Wolves since the club was bought out by Fosun International Group in 2016.

In that time they have gone from the mid-table of the Championship to an established top-flight side, with a team featuring an array of international stars and challenging the Premier League elite.

To emphasise the transformation, we’ve taken a look at that final starting XI before the takeover – which came in a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday that secured 14th place in the Championship back in May 2016.

Carl Ikeme

A Wolves hero, Ikeme was preparing for what turned out to be the club’s promotion season when he was devastatingly diagnosed with acute leukaemia in July 2017.

The goalkeeper heroically beat the disease but was forced to announce his retirement from the game one year after his initial diagnosis.

Speaking to the BBC in September 2018, the former Nigeria international said: “I am not sure what the future holds. I am unemployed and just taking it day by day.

“I would love to go and learn from the Nigerian FA. Come to Wolves and learn a little bit from them. Maybe do a bit of media work.

“I am not anxious to jump into something because being with my family is my priority at the minute. I wake up every morning happy to be here.”

New signing Jose Sa will be the first Wolves player to wear the number one jersey since Ikeme’s retirement – something the former goalkeeper approves of.

Dominic Iorfa

Once considered a hot prospect at Wolves, Iorfa was capped by England at U21 level but was sent out on loan to Ipswich Town as the Midlanders won promotion under Nuno.

The defender then joined Sheffield Wednesday in January 2019 and has since made 63 Championship appearances for the South Yorkshire side.

Iorfa won Wednesday’s Player of the Year award in 2019-20 and will be looking to ensure the famous old club bounce straight back from last season’s relegation.

Danny Batth

In a similar scenario to Iorfa, Batth was a fan favourite at Molineux as a local lad who captained the club.

But the centre-back began to be phased out under Nuno and was loaned out to Middlesbrough for the first half of 2018-19 season before joining Stoke City on a permanent deal that January.

He probably didn’t expect to be helping the promotion favourites fight against relegation, but Batth’s performances in the run-in were crucial in ensuring Stoke stayed in the division.

The 30-year-old remains in the Potteries under the guidance of Michael O’Neill.

Kortney Hause

Another prospect who has featured prominently for Wolves and been capped by England at Under-21 level, Hause made the move across the West Midlands in 2019 following Aston Villa’s promotion to the Premier League.

He’s found game-time limited following the success of the Mings-Konsa partnership at centre-back, making only four league starts for Villa during the 2020-21 season.

But at least Hause has his rap career to fall back on should the football lark not work out.

Matt Doherty

Doherty operated at left-back on that day against Sheffield Wednesday but was briefly considered one of the best attacking right wing-backs in the Premier League.

The Republic of Ireland international took the top flight by storm and became a must-have on Fantasy Football between 2018 and 2020.

After signing for Tottenham in August 2020, Doherty deleted Twitter posts declaring his support for arch-rivals Arsenal in an actually-quite-funny promotional video.

He’ll be hoping to improve after a difficult debut season in north London.

Jed Wallace (Adam Le Fondre, ’45)

The win over Sheffield Wednesday was one of only 18 league appearances Wallace made for Wolves before the winger was sent on loan twice to Millwall, eventually joining the club on a permanent deal.

He remains in south London to this day.

His replacement at Molineux five years ago went on to cement his reputation as a lower-league goalscorer before moving abroad.

Le Fondre, who scored three times during his loan spell at Wolves, scored crucial goals as Bolton won promotion to the Championship in 2017 before making a permanent move to the north west.

Bolton’s financial struggles meant progress was impossible and Le Fondre ended up relocating to Australia to play for A-League side Sydney FC.

Two prolific years followed before the goals dried up and the striker made the temporary switch to Mumbai City in October 2020 – where his 11 goals helped the Indian side win both the League Winners Shield and the play-offs.

Conor Coady

Coady is the only player to continue in Wolves’ starting XI today. But, while the former Liverpool man played in central midfield that day, he now captains the side as a defender in a back three.

Coady’s transformation comes as no surprise to his former Liverpool team-mate Jack Robinson, who told us in 2018: “He has settled at Wolves and he has got that structure behind him now.

“They know exactly what he does and what he brings to the team. He is a captain and a leader. He’s the talker of the team. He always captained at every age group and England the same.”

Coady eventually gained international recognition, making his England debut against Denmark in September 2020 and scored against Wales on his next appearance.

Though he did not play any games, he was dubbed England’s ‘player of the tournament’ at Euro 2020 by assistant manager Steve Holland for his positive presence in the camp. 

Jack Price

An academy graduate, Price featured sporadically in the first half of Wolves’ promotion season before leaving for the sunnier climes of MLS outfit Colorado Rapids.

Rather brilliantly, upon crossing the Atlantic, the midfielder had to explain his nickname ‘the Shropshire Pirlo’, telling MLS’ official website: “They obviously see me as a bit of a Pirlo from Shropshire and I’m just happy to be in the same name as Pirlo, really.” You don’t say.

He’s lived up his own billing, mind. Price recorded 10 set-piece assists in the 2019 season, the most since David Beckham graced the MLS, and was named Colorado’s MVP for the 2021 campaign.

George Saville

A product of Chelsea’s youth system – he never actually appeared for the Blues’ first team, naturally – Saville spent three seasons at Wolves and was a goalscorer in that game against Wednesday but missed out on winning promotion with the club after being sold to Millwall.

After just one season at The Den, the midfielder earned an £8million move to Middlesbrough. Saville played 118 times for the club over three seasons before returning to Millwall in 2021.

James Henry

After helping Wolves win promotion from League One, Henry was a regular for two seasons in the Championship but returned to the third tier with a transfer to Oxford United.

He almost helped them into the Championship, but a play-off final defeat to Wycombe in 2020 put paid to that dream.

Henry remains at the club, making another 40 appearances over the 2020-21 season as the ambitious League One side look to play second-tier football for the first time since 1999.

Joe Mason (David Edwards, ’76)

We’re not saying Wolves’ attack has changed quite significantly, but between them, Henry and Mason mustered 25 goals in 146 appearances for the club.

Mason was one considered an exciting prospect at Cardiff City, memorably scoring against Liverpool in the 2012 League Cup final.

But his career stalled at Wolves as he was sent out on loan to Burton Albion, Colorado Rapids and Portsmouth.

He was released from his contract in January 2019 and had two semi-successful seasons at MK Dons. Mason now stars for Canadian club Cavalry FC following his move there in May 2021.

Edwards was a Molineux stalwart, spending nine years at the club and experiencing multiple promotions and relegations.

A member of Wales’ successful Euro 2016 squad, the midfielder left Wolves in 2017 and spent time at Reading and former club Shrewsbury Town.

Following his release from the latter in 2021, Edwards expressed a desire to play part-time football and signed for Welsh Premier side Bala Town.


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