Nuno Espirito Santo has expressed his pride in being the first manager since John Barnwell to lead Wolves in major European competition, as Northern Irish side Crusaders are the visitors to Molineux on Thursday evening.
Wolves return to competitive football in the Europa League second qualifying round following their impressive seventh position finish in last season’s Premier League, but despite his side being huge favourites to take the tie, Nuno will not be taking Crusaders lightly.
On an early start to the season
“What has been required from us regarding the preparation for the season is a different approach. Things have been well, and we are inside what we expect.
“It’s a different approach because of the travels that we had to do, all the different competitions that the players were involved in during the summer – they’ve all come in at different dates, those who’ve started before, the young players, the squad; all these things are different.
“The most important thing is that we start the official competition tomorrow and we are ready to do it.”
On importance of Europa League
“We go game by game. The next game is the Europa League qualifiers and that is the most important one.
“We started our journey two years ago, I remember on the pitch at Compton on the left side, and our philosophy was clear – we tried to build a team, a strong team that can play and compete in every game.
“It gives me a lot of pride (to manage Wolves in Europe) because I’m the manager of a fantastic group of players, a fantastic group of men who every day want to improve.
“It’s our third year that we start together, we know each other very well, better than we did before, so we expect things to improve.”
On respecting Crusaders
“No matter who you play against, it’s about how you prepare yourself to compete. Of course, tomorrow is a big game for the club, for the years without European football.
“It’s up to us to make something special so people are proud of us once again. It’s fantastic to be back at Molineux, what Molineux gives us is huge and a real adrenaline punch that we must take on to the pitch.
“I have visited the museum a couple of times, so know the history of the club, and it proves how big Wolves are.”
On the return of Jimenez and Saiss
“They haven’t had the same amount of time off as the other players and we have to manage them, but they are ready in case we decide (to play them).
“That’s the best thing – they are fit and healthy.”
On summer transfer plans
“We know what we have to do. The approach on the market has been done by the club, so we still have time. Things are going normally and as expected.
“We don’t speak about players who are not in the squad, the links doesn’t mean anything, what it important is the work that is going on indoors – the way we analyse and make decisions; this is what counts.
“What goes on in the press is normal at these moments of the market, every day there is speculations, but we don’t care, and we don’t mention anything about it.”
On China Tour
“China was work. There’s no space for ‘fun’ in our days; it’s work, prepare yourself, attend the events that we had to attend, the players were patient, the players were available every day to do it, and as a club it was a big impact.
“We won the Asia Trophy, which means a lot, but it was not fun, it was work.
“Football is global, and we are very proud that we went to China and we were able to compete against big clubs, especially in Shanghai where the ownership is from.
“We felt good there, but it was about preparing yourself, doing the right things in the right moments and coming here stronger than we were before.
“But it was a good experience, and as a club I think we made a step forward because the perfect journey that we made, all the staff, all the details that we attend, the recovery of the players, the jet-lag, all these efforts prove that we can do things right.”