Shropshire Star

Gary O'Neil bemoans 'absolutely crazy' Wolves error for Liverpool winner

Gary O’Neil has bemoaned Jose Sa’s moment of madness after Wolves’ late loss to Liverpool.


With the game locked at 1-1 and Wolves hanging on, the goalkeeper’s loose kick handed the ball straight to Andy Robertson, who played it to Mohamed Salah, and then made a run into the box to receive the ball back and put the Reds ahead after 85 minutes.

Although the head coach was pleased with Wolves’ overall display, and in particular their impressive first half, he admitted he is trying to coach his side out of ‘unpredictable’ and erratic errors.

O’Neil said: “We didn’t manage to capitalise much but I think from a defensive point of view the lads worked extremely hard for a very long time.

“We conceded an absolutely crazy second goals which is a lot of the stuff I have been trying to get out of the players really since I got here.

“They play quite loosely and go off and do their own things. That is just the way they have been playing for an awful long time. So, trying to take that unpredictability out as much as we can until we get to the final third.

“We have done it for large parts and we managed to remain in control of the game for a long time but them it just shows that, if you do create chaos against a side like Liverpool, they can punish you like they did.

“So, still lots to be done but if there are positives to be taken in a 3-1 defeat, there were. Liverpool are going to be a top side this year, they will be right at the top of the league, no doubt.

“So, not games that we go into sort of needing to win, they are not the ones we are judged on but we have a big game next week that we look to go and win.”

A magnificent first half performance from Wolves was followed by a fairly dismal second, in which O’Neil’s side sat back and invited pressure.

But where did it go wrong? The head coach added: “If you look at the two sides and the gap in quality between us and Liverpool, it takes a big effort to close that.

“I thought we did for a very long time. I thought the organisation, the structure, the quality the players showed, managed to help us bridge that gap.

“But you know you are not going to be the best side against Liverpool for the whole game. It’s not going to happen so when we are on top we probably could have taken one or two more of our real good situations and capitalised on them.

“Then after that, once you start to lose a bit of energy and they get control and bring on Nunes and Diaz, you know you are going to have to hang on at that point a little bit. You are going to have to dig in and it’s not going to all go your way.

“We were digging in and hanging on at 1-1. Sa hasn’t made loads of saves really. And then we make a strange decision and create a bit of chaos and concede a second goal.

“We have spoken a lot about that, trying to keep the game in a structured, controlled manner because as soon as you create chaos against Liverpool they are very good in it.

“As you saw towards the end of the game, at 1-1 they had lots of the ball and had control but we knew where everyone was and we knew how the situations were going to unfold, but then we make a strange decision on 85 minutes, it cost us the second goal and from that point we are forced into a bit of chaos against them and they then create a lot of chances form that moment.

“Up until 80 minutes, I think to have pushed Liverpool that close was a big effort from everybody.”

Rayan Ait-Nouri was forced off with an injury in the second half but is not expected to be out for a prolonged period of time, while Joe Hodge is close to a return after his hamstring injury against Blackpool in the Carabao Cup.

O’Neil said: “Rayan’s injury was just muscle fatigue really. I don’t expect him to have any problems.

“We won’t know until next weekend, but he’ll probably just need a few days to recover.

“Joe Hodge is back on the grass running and should be back with the group some point next week.”