Shropshire Star

Wolves v Sheffield Utd: Gary O’Neil determined to keep Wolves in European hunt

Wolves now begin a season-defining seven weeks, starting with tomorrow’s clash with Sheffield United.


Gary O’Neil is trying to limit conversations of a push for Europe, but Wolves are certainly in the mix.

And to achieve it they will need to overcome their hoodoo of failing to beat the teams below them, with a run of fixtures coming up that could determine Wolves’ fate.

Struggling Sheffield United travel to Molineux tomorrow, before next week’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Brighton, where a win would put them just one more victory away from Wembley.

A trip to European rivals Newcastle follows, before games against Fulham, Bournemouth, Villa, Burnley, West Ham and Nottingham Forest, taking Wolves up to April 13 and with just five league games remaining.

If any hope of making it into Europe is to come to fruition, Wolves must take advantage of these next seven weeks and the head coach is eager to avoid a capitulation similar to Bruno Lage’s first campaign in 2021/22, where Wolves went from challenging for the Champions League to finishing 10th.

“It is a big few weeks, of course,” O’Neil said. “They will all be incredibly tough games.

“I’m sure Fulham, Bournemouth and Burnley are all looking at those fixtures thinking they can win them as well.

“Premier League games are always tough. Of course, we look forward to every game.

“Newcastle away is still an incredibly tough test, whether they’re near us in the league or not. It’s a really tough place to go against an excellent side.

“There will be tests every weekend. We’ve done OK so far with the majority of the 25, so we’ll keep pushing to do as well as we can.

“We have some opportunities to keep putting points on the board and it’s important that we do.

“The club, a couple seasons ago, reached a decent spot in the league and then the end of the season tapered off a little bit. That can happen, but we’re working extremely hard to make sure the level is maintained and even improved over the next few weeks.”

O’Neil’s side must begin beating teams determined to sit in and frustrate Wolves if they want any chance of qualifying for Europe, and Sheffield United will pose a unique challenge in that regard.

The Blades have conceded five goals in their last three home games and remain rooted at the bottom of the Premier League.

Often playing with a back five, they are expected to set up in a compact shape designed to keep Wolves’ attacking talents at bay.

Wolves have excelled against expansive sides this season – beating Manchester City and doing the double over Chelsea and Spurs – but have endured losses to the Blades, Crystal Palace, Fulham, West Ham and Brentford.

Now, O’Neil’s side must embrace being the favourites if they want to achieve a special finish to the campaign.