After taking Wolves to their first FA Cup semi-final in more than two decades, Nuno Espirito Santo is urging his players not to let the trip to Wembley next month distract them ahead of a crucial run of Premier League games.
Wolves, sitting seventh in the Premier League table, head to Burnley’s Turf Moor on Saturday before Manchester United are visitors to Molineux next Tuesday evening, as Nuno’s side face three matches in the space of eight days.
But the head coach is insisting his players will be sticking to their usual mantra of taking it one game at a time and are not looking ahead to the semi-final clash with Watford.
On making the FA Cup semi-final
“From the beginning, we knew how important the FA Cup is; what it means for us, what it means for the club and what it means for football. It’s the oldest competition there is, and we are very proud that we are able to compete in a semi-final.”
On the atmosphere at Wolves
“The atmosphere is good, but that cannot distract us. We know the job that we have to do, and we know our focus is only on a daily basis. We go training session after training session, we have an international break, and there are two games before the semi-finals.
“We go game-by-game, so we cannot allow ourselves to get distracted and not allow ourselves to not do our things right.
“It helps [having the focus of a semi-final and league targets], but it doesn’t change. We do what we did before and the routine, philosophy is clear, and we just have to continue playing.”
On his ambitions at Molineux
“The best way to be ambitious is to work hard every day. Dreaming doesn’t give you things – hard work gives you things. We have to realise the history of the club is important; it’s massive, but it was in the 50s, the 60s, the 70s – it was a long time ago.
“Our ambition is that we’re able to compete the best way that we can every game to make our fans proud. If we can achieve things, that will be in the future; it’s in the present where you put the focus on your tasks.
“My job is to prepare for the next session. My ambition is to prepare well for the next game. This is how I think.
“I want to be ready to play the next game the best way that I can. Have the team well-prepared, have the players focused, and ready to compete and fight, like we do every game. This is my job and ambition.”
On being Premier League’s ‘best of the rest’
“It’s a big challenge for us as a team, to be inside such a competitive Premier League. So much quality in the players, so much quality in the managers, so strong teams. It’s a privilege, at the same time a big challenge for us.
“But I don’t look at the table. Our view is simple, we want to compete, we know that we have to play against all the teams and what we want to do is prepare ourselves well for the competition.
“I don’t see a difference [between Wolves and the rest of the league], for us it’s the same. They’re very good teams, tough opponents, we know what we have to do, we’ll try our best and we want to compete game-by-game.
On balancing multiple games in a week
“It’s tough, but it’s about anticipating well, preparing the players well for the cycle ahead of us and the, as the game goes by, we know there is a tough cycle.
“Three games in a week requires a lot of effort, a lot of energy, and we have to prepare well, but also recover well after the game. The way we allow players to recover from their games to be ready again is basic.
“But we know it’s going to be a tough challenge, three games in a week is tough.”