Kenny Jackett tonight reflected on a “feisty and competitive” encounter with Celta Vigo at Molineux – as a 1-1 draw ensured Wolves finished their pre-season programme unbeaten.
Nouha Dicko’s first half goal was cancelled out by Joaquin Larrivey in the second half, in a game which often threatened to spill over thanks to some lively challenges.
Gustavo Cabral appeared fortunate to see only yellow after pushing his head into Dicko’s head, whilst at one stage Jackett was left standing his ground and reminding the opposition bench not to step into his technical area as they reacted to an incident.
But there were handshakes all round at full time, and Jackett was pleased with the nature of the workout ahead of the start of the Sky Bet Championship season against Norwich a week tomorrow.
“Celta Vigo were excellent opposition and it was a really good test for us,” said Jackett.
“They played terrific football and their movement in a 4-3-3 situation was fantastic.
“They had us at full stretch as you’d expect from a side which plays top level football in La Liga which is exactly what we wanted.
“There is a lot we can learn from them but also we caused them plenty of problems and had several chances ourselves.
“James Henry hit the post at 1-0 to go 2-0 up but by the end of the game I don’t think we’d done enough to win it.
“It’s good for our crowd to come and watch a top flight side because those games have been few and far between for us in preseason
“You can see where the bar was for us, it was high, and there are a lot of lessons we can learn from it.
“We did very well and we needed to if we were going to get something out of the game.
“I was pleased with the players and we defended very well but were also a constant threat and created plenty of chances.
“It was a good exercise and hopefully we haven’t got any knocks and can now get ready for Norwich.”
On the many lively tackles during the game, including the first half flashpoint involving Dicko and Cabral, Jackett said: “What I would say is that at the end both sets of players shook hands and everyone shook hands.
“But it looked as if it could explode out there at any time.
“It was very feisty and had it been an English league game I think there would have been some reds and I would suggest more than one.
“It seemed as if the guy was dropping his head on Dicko.
“Unless there was something happening before that I didn’t see but as I was looking he was pushing his head at Dicko and even a quarter of that is a red card.
“You can’t go chasing people and putting your head into them.
“From our point of view it made it a strange situation – are you going to let people headbutt you and kick lumps out of you?
“They made it very competitive and when they get tight they try to win the ball at all costs.
“They had a lively bench and they really wanted to win today.
“I could hear them in the tunnel and in the dressing room before the game and that made it a good game for us.
“There are times as a coach when you have to stand your ground and that’s what happened.
“It looked like at any stage it could end up in a mass brawl with some of the challenges.
“But as I said it’s all gone now – the players were shaking hands and o-k after the game and football-wise it was a good test.
“I’m quite positive on it – it was a step-up for us and they were an excellent footballing team.
“They tested us and we rose to that test.”
As well as Tommy Rowe – expected to return to training in the week after the Norwich game – Leon Clarke, Jack Price and Bakary Sako were missing from Jackett’s line-up but all are expected to return to training within the next few days.
“Price and Clarke should be back training Tuesday and Sako on Wednesday which gives them plenty of time to be o-k for the weekend,” said Jackett.
“Price has an Achilles injury that he got in the Oxford game and Clarke a back injury from the same game.
“They may have had an outside chance had this been a league game but I didn’t want to risk them.
“Tommy Rowe will train the week after the Norwich game.”