Legendary Wolves striker John Richards believes Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will go all out to do well in this season’s Europa League, and their results last season against the top teams in the Premier League will give them confidence to go far.
A finalist with Wolves in the competition when it was under its former UEFA Cup guise back in 1972, Richards has high expectations for the current set-up at Molineux and is excited to see the gold and black colours back in major European competition when Crusaders come to town on Thursday night.
On the current Wolves side
“I’ve been very impressed with the way that they’ve played, especially as they’ve only been playing under Nuno for a couple of years and they’ve already managed to get to this level.
“The speed at which they’ve been able to get themselves to their current level has been very impressive.
“When you look at the squad, they seem to have a very strong team spirit, which is what we had in 1972 and this really helped us when we were travelling around Europe.
“We had a very strong team spirit and I think the current team have got a similar feel about them.”
On Europa League expectations
“I think they’ll do well, but obviously the competition will get tougher as it goes on. I don’t think they’ll have any problems with the early qualifying round, they should deal with those quite comfortably as we’ve got far better players than teams like Crusaders.
“However, when it gets to the group stages then it’s going to be a little bit tougher – but that will be the measure of them.
“We’ll see how the squad can cope, but it will be interesting because they’ll have a lot of games this season and I think that is a concern to the supporters. If they get a few injuries it can make the real difference between winning and losing the games.”
On Wolves’ return to European competition
“As a fan, I’m really looking forwards to it. Fans are no different to players, in that respect, because there is the excitement of something different.
“We see the league games, we see the same teams all the time on the television, but you don’t always get the opportunity to test yourself against some decent foreign opposition, so I think everyone associated with the club is looking forwards to it – I certainly am.
“Like I said, looking at the quality of players Wolves have at the moment, they shouldn’t have any problems in the early stages, but it will interesting to see how the team does in the later stages when they come up against some really good foreign team, because that’s really what they want.”
On results against the ‘big’ teams
“The way that this Wolves team raise themselves up against the so-called bigger sides could help them go far in this competition.
“They did it in the FA Cup to knock out Liverpool and Manchester United. When there is that little something extra, from a playing point of view and a fan point of view, the players raise their games.
“This side were capable of matching any of the teams in the Premier League last season – they performed really well against the top teams and those results are what gives us fans optimism that the players will be up for the challenge of the European games, no doubt about it.”