Taking a trip to the west Midlands down the Jorge Mendes Highway

·6-min read


Being held to a draw early in the season by a newly promoted side such as Fulham can be enough to send some people into a blind panic, the sort of wild flat spin and concomitant loss of perspective that eventually leads to Clockwork Orange-levels of base delinquency. But the folk at Wolverhampton Wanderers have signally calmer dispositions than the uber-rattled Darwin Núñez. Disappointing draw with the Cottagers? No need to fret, fuss and feud! Let’s simply respond by quietly and efficiently breaking the club transfer record for one of the most talked-about young midfielders in Europe! And there we have it, spirit restored at a stroke. All tranquil again, and no need to be putting the nut on anyone quite yet.

Matheus Nunes of Sporting is the latest player to come careering, in more ways than one, down the Jorge Mendes Highway, that well-trodden toll road that runs direct from Portugal to the west Midlands. This particular journey has cost Wolves an initial £38m, plus five million of your continental euros in potential add-ons, should stuff happen. The fee exceeds Wolves’ previous biggest outlay, the €35m they paid Porto for Fábio Silva, who is now on loan at Anderlecht where he’s already scored more goals (five) in six appearances than he did for Wolves (four) in 63. That’s very promising news for Wolves in the long run, and yet they wouldn’t be human if those stats somehow didn’t make their teeth itch. It’s OK to be unsure how to process this sort of stuff.

Silva was very young when he arrived at Molineux, though – he’s still only 20 – but more will be expected from the get-go of 23-year-old Nunes. He’s already helped Sporting to their first Portuguese title in nearly 20 years, while Pep Guardiola has described him as “one of the best players in the world today”. Given that Manchester City were sniffing around the all-action, sashay-happy midfielder as a result, and Liverpool had shown serious interest too, this is something of a coup for Wolves. The only slight downside for supporters is the almost certain knowledge that the club will only be able to hang on to Nunes for so long – the words “it’s the right next step for me!” betray that state of affairs in plain sight – but they’ll enjoy him while it lasts, and it’s not as though there won’t be plenty more fresh meat hurtling down the JMH soon enough.


“It has been a crap start, we can’t say that enough” – Leipzig sports director Oliver Mintzlaff isn’t mincing his words after two draws from their first two Bundesliga games.


In pod we trust. It’s the latest Football Weekly Extra.


“I always feel bad for fans at abandoned matches and therefore spared a thought for those supporters who turned up for Grimsby v Carlisle on Tuesday, only to see it washed out after 39 minutes. In August. Possibly to make them feel better, does anyone have any good/bad tales about washed-out match trips?” – Clara Sidney.

“Given all the excitement after Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge, I am surprised no one appears to have taken us back to the 14th June 2006 when Peter Crouch scored England’s opening goal against Trinidad and Tobago in the World Cup by pulling Brent Sancho’s hair. Crouch escaped a ban, Sancho said it was all part of the game, and England continued on to exit in the quarter-finals. And Crouch was playing for Liverpool at the time. Selective memory?” – James Hepple.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Clara Sidney.


Another day, another billionaire placing themselves in the Manchester United ownership discussion. This time it’s Brexit’s Jim Ratcliffe. “If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer,” cheered a spokesperson for the Ineos founder. “If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.” In response, the United Supporters’ Trust declared: “Any prospective new owner or investor has to be committed to the culture, ethos and best traditions of the club. They have to be willing to invest to restore United to former glories.”

Two African players from Viborg are not able to travel for their Tin Pot playoff against West Ham due to English entry rules for non-EU citizens after Brexit.

The annual Deloitte report is out, with the latest edition suggesting revenues across European football’s combined market increased by a whopping 10% to €27.6bn in 2020-21.

Aldershot Town have apologised to Boreham Wood for the behaviour of fans during Tuesday’s 2-1 National League win. “We are having to hang our heads in shame thanks to a minority in the away end that embarrassed our club with their mindless, destructive behaviour,” said chairman Shahid Azeem, adding that home keeper Nathan Ashmore was verbally abused and damage was caused to Meadow Park.

Juventus forward Lina Hurtig is now Arsenal forward Lina Hurtig.

If you weren’t feeling old, this might well do the job: Stoke City are a point better off in the Championship after D’Margio Wright-Phillips – grandson of Ian Wright – scored in the 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough. Then again, it also says Phil Jagielka bundled home an own goal, so perhaps all isn’t lost?

And it wouldn’t be a daily football missive these days without mention of a Nottingham Forest signing: they’ve agreed a club-record £35m deal, plus add-ons, for Wolves’s Morgan Gibbs-White.


Tin Pot comes good! Or at least Victor Edvardsen does for Djurgarden in their 3-0 playoff win over Apoel.


“Young people cannot believe I played for Chelsea,” says Gus Poyet in this interview. Then again, your on-the-ball Fiver wasn’t even aware he’s in charge of Greece, so …

You, us, everyone wants a quick fix, but sometimes changing a strategy takes time. Karen Carney reckons Arsenal could be about to reap the rewards.

Seven years after signing for Liverpool, Taiwo Awoniyi has finally made his mark on the Premier League, as Will Unwin explains.

“I’ve seen a few clips here and there. I’m not going to lie … I’ve watched my pass a few times from the final” – Euro 2022 winner Keira Walsh is back in Manchester City action as Women’s Big Cup gets under way. She talks to Luke McLaughlin.

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