On 9 November 2020, Wolverhampton Wanderers sat in ninth place in the Premier League table, fresh off the back of another impressive away victory, this time against Arsenal in north London.
The 2-1 win came at a price, however. Star striker Raul Jimenez suffered a sickening head injury and it quickly became apparent that his participation for the rest of the season was in serious doubt.
Without their talisman, Nuno Espirito Santo had little choice but to make the most of his paper-thin squad and fall back on the raw inexperience of future prospect Fabio Silva.
Hopes were high for the boy they’d signed from Porto for a whopping £35m in the summer, and expectations were even higher due to his sizeable transfer fee.
It’s safe to say this introduction into English football has come far, far too soon for the 18-year-old. The Portuguese starlet has managed four goals in the Premier League, but having watched him play, it makes you wonder how he has ever managed to find the net at all.
Silva clearly boasts bags of talent, and he has the makings of a good striker in the long run, but he is just not ready for top-flight football. And his poor displays have certainly got the better of him, as he now looks stricken with fear on the pitch.
Every shot at goal is dragged or snatched at, every decision is the wrong one, every run is down a cul-de-sac. His display in Wolves’ 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur was as bad as it gets. He dragged two first-half shots well wide of goal when presented with time and space on the right of the box, and wasted a bulldozing run from Adama Traore. I’d be terrified if I spoilt that man’s hard work too, to be fair.
The second half was equally as disastrous, after he was picked out on the penalty spot with the whole goal to aim at, but sliced his first-time strike painfully wide. Other than that, he contributed nothing to Wolves’ overall play.
It is not pleasant watching him suffer, and unlike the Nicklas Bendtners of the world, we take no pleasure from seeing him fall flat on his face.
This is a kid who definitely would have benefitted from a loan away from Wolverhampton to learn his trade and cut his teeth, rather than be thrown into the deep end of the Premier League without any inflatable armbands.
While we can hope for an improvement in the future, Wolves fans will be hoping even more for Jimenez to return to action as soon as possible. For it turns out, when he picked up his season-ending injury, his side’s season ended at the same time.
Having won five of their opening ten league matches with Jimenez spearheading the attack, Wolves have gone on to take maximum points in only seven of the next 26 games.
That dismal return has seen them slide as low as 14th in the table, and having slipped to 11th only a week after the Mexican’s injury, they have failed to reappear in the top half of the division all campaign.
All of this has culminated in one pretty miserable season for the Midlands club.
Having spent a fortune on the likes of Silva and full-back Nelson Semedo, they have struggled to recapture the intensity and drive which made them one of the most exciting and successful newly-promoted clubs back in 2018/19.
While those glories feel like a distant memory in the aftermath of Sunday’s despairing defeat, there is one quick fix: take Silva out of the firing line for his and our sake, and pray for Jimenez to come back as deadly as he was at the start of the year.