Focused and committed Nuno wants Wolves to dominate
Nuno Espirito Santo has urged Wolves to be ‘more dominant’ as they look to turn heads once again in the Premier League.
After back-to-back seventh-placed finishes in the top flight – enjoying runs to the FA Cup semi-finals and Europa League quarter-finals along the way – they are kicking off the 2020/21 campaign at Sheffield United.
And Nuno, having signed a new contract until 2023, has outlined exactly what he wants to see from his side tonight – and into the coming season.
“I will not share too many details, but it’s evident that it’s a new cycle,” he said.
“We have to grow in some aspects of our game. I would like to be more dominant, and I would like to have more of the ball.
“I would like to improve our tally of goals scored, and decrease the goals (against).
“One thing we were able to do last season compared to the first one (in the Premier League), we were able to sustain our levels of performance. But we still had ups and downs.
“It’s about consistency of performances, not having so much ups and downs throughout the competition.”
It is such a quick turnaround from last term for Wolves – 2019/20 finishing on August 11 against Sevilla in the Europa quarters.
But Nuno, while openly admitting he would have wanted longer to prepare for the new season, pointed out that the break was long enough to mentally recharge.
Importantly, it allowed Nuno – who had not seen his family for months because of Covid-19 restrictions – to return to Portugal while it was on the safe travel corridor list.
“It was good. I already miss them but it was good. Thank you for asking,” he said on seeing his family.
“That was one of our concerns, allowing the players to disconnect from such a hard season.
“You have to recognise we are without our families, so there were hard moments and we needed to go back to those family comforts.
“We are happy, and we prepare ourselves in a confident and motivated way.
“I missed so many things and had to recover those lost moments. After that, it was about working.
“After doing well, you cannot stop and expect that what you did before will be enough. So, my main concern was to find new ways on how we play and do things, to be able to compete better.
“We have to find solutions. I was able to recover, and now we’re ready to go.
“It was never going to be a total stop. Our main objective was to allow the players time to recover, but to prepare for the next one as well as possible.
“Some went away with their national teams and had minutes, some had no minutes, but it’s about trying to compete well.”
So far in this transfer window, Wolves have made three signings – most notably bringing in striker Fabio Silva for a club-record £35million fee.
Experienced defender Fernando Marcal – who Nuno referred to as a ‘direct replacement’ for the injured Jonny Castro Otto – has come in too, as has creative midfielder Vitinha.
Nuno, who also said he will stick with the small squad approach, knows it will be hard to replicate what has been done over the past two seasons – but he is ready and excited for the challenge. “It’s going to be hard, very difficult very challenging and more demanding,” added Nuno.
“It will require more work, better decisions and better solutions. It will require better performances from our team and our players. We have a strong foundation and need to evolve, and become better.
“Let’s improve the way we perform. We are determined.”
Predicted Wolves XI
3-5-2: Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Traore, Neves, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Vinagre; Jimenez, Jota