Wolves boss Gary O'Neil expecting hostile atmosphere for Matheus Nunes' Molineux return
Gary O’Neil does not believe a hostile atmosphere will affect Matheus Nunes, but expects the former Wolves player to receive a bad reception at Molineux today.
The midfielder went on strike in late August to force through a £53million move to Manchester City, and he has made a good start to life at his new club.
Nunes is expected to start today as he returns to face Wolves, and when asked if he expects the player to get a good reception from the home supporters, O’Neil said: “I have no idea. Normally when people leave like that it suggests they won’t (get a good reception), but we’ll see.”
When asked if a bad reception could be counter-productive and spur Nunes on, O’Neil added: “I’m not going to tell the Wolves fans how they should treat Matheus Nunes or anybody else.
“If we’re really nice to Matheus Nunes he’ll still try and kill us with the ball and if we all boo him and jeer him, he’ll still try and kill us with the ball.
“I don’t think what we do, apart from how we stop him as a team, will have too much impact.”
Despite that, O’Neil did fire a parting shot when quizzed about Nunes, as he referenced the player’s late red card for Wolves at the start of this season.
O’Neil said: “He got wound up a bit by Brighton and got sent off when he was here didn’t he, but I don’t think there’s anything in mentality or games with Matheus Nunes.
“It’s just a game of football, he’s one of their good players and we will try to hurt them with our good players.”
O’Neil added: “He’s a talented player and he moved for that amount of money to the best side in the world, and it shows what quality you have.
“We knew that already from the couple weeks I spent with him. He’s an incredibly talented boy. I haven’t done too much thinking about how he’ll do at Manchester City, it’s not really for me, but it looks like he’s played a decent part in their recent games.
“I expect him to play and like the rest of their fantastic players, we have a plan in place where we look to have our say in it as well.”
Nunes’ behaviour towards the end of his spell at Wolves took many by surprise, and O’Neil publicly but carefully condemned it at the time.
But for O’Neil, he believes it is a result of how modern football has changed.
He said: “I think we’ve seen across world football that some players attempt to force through moves in that way, it’s not just here and with Matheus. It happens fairly regularly now. I don’t feel it helps but they’re obviously being advised by people that it may help.
“We have a big game that he may play for the opposition in and there’s lots of other things we have to be ready for as well.”
When asked about Nunes’ behaviour before he went on strike, O’Neil added: “He was fine. He was willing to work, willing to learn.
“Of course, the transfer stuff turns heads and the situation is that. It was never part of the plan to lose him either, we expected to have him for the year. We were fully planning for him to be here for the whole season and be a big part of what we did, so we were working hard on that.
“When a club the size of Man City come calling, with the figures they were talking about, you end up where we end up.”