Kenny Hibbitt: A superb Wolves season regardless of FA Cup result
Former European finalist Kenny Hibbitt insists it has been a brilliant season for Wolves regardless of the outcome of tonight’s FA Cup final.
If Chelsea beat Arsenal at Wembley, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side – having finished seventh again in the Premier League – will have another Europa League opportunity.
A Gunners victory, though, would see them grab a place in the Europa qualifying rounds instead of Wolves.
Hibbitt reached the final of the competition under its former guise, the Uefa Cup, in 1972, and he said: “I don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all, but it’s very important.
“Everyone in the Premier League is looking to do it now.
“We’ve got in there and have two chances of staying in there for next season as well.
“With some of the decisions that have gone against this season, we could’ve been in the top four.
“But we’ve had a fantastic season again, especially with it being our second season in the Premier League, as it always more difficult the second time around.
“Whatever happens, I think we’ve got to say that it’s great because I don’t see us going backwards.
“It’s a great squad, with great owners and, most of all, a great manager. They’ve been outstanding this year.”
As alluded to by Hibbitt, Wolves’ European hopes are not all over if Arsenal win tonight.
They are still in this season’s Europa League – playing Olympiacos at Molineux next Thursday in the last 16 – and will grab a Champions League spot if they go all the way in the competition.
Hibbitt, who won the League Cup twice with Wolves and made 574 appearances for the club, said: “We’re talked about now as a very difficult team to beat – and a very well-run football club.
“That’s how you know we’ve got something going for us.
“It’s really great, as top managers are always talking about Wolves and how difficult they are to beat.
“That’s a great step for us, and I think we’ve got a great chance of getting Europe again – either through the FA Cup final or winning this season’s Europa League.
“Yes, there were a couple of indifferent performances after the lockdown – but every club has had that problem. Without the fans there, it’s very difficult.
“With no atmosphere, it must be very difficult for players to perform when it matters.
“But whatever happens, it has been another terrific season. They’ve done extremely well.”
Former midfielder Hibbitt has also praised Ruben Neves for his classy displays in the middle of the park for Wolves.
The Portuguese has been one of the club’s brightest players over the course of 2019/20, scoring four goals and coming up with three assists.
The 23-year-old has made the most successful passes of any Wolves player, with 2,023 in the league.
That makes him the fourth most productive passer in the whole of the top flight, too.
And Hibbitt said: “He’s terrific. He very rarely gives the ball away and has a great, wide range of passes – he can hit long balls or short balls.
“He’s got a great strike on him, and he is brilliant from set-pieces – free-kicks in particular.
“I’d like to see him get forward a bit more often.
“Nuno, though, obviously sees him more as a player to sit in front of the defence and supply the forwards with his tremendous vision, the passes he makes.
“Overall, I think he’s a great player. I like him a lot.”