Nuno Espirito Santo has praised the fighting spirit of his Wolves players ahead of a challenging tie with Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday.
With his side returning to league football this weekend, the head coach said he was proud of the way his team continued to compete until the final whistle in their recent games, including Thursday evening’s last-gasp winner against Besiktas in the Europa League to give the club their first main stage European win in almost 40 years.
On Europa League group stage win
“We are pleased and we are proud of achieving the win in a tough environment. Besiktas are a good team, it was a tough game, the boys work hard, but there was space for improvement, and this is what we try to work on.
“It was massive to win on Thursday, but not being able to celebrate it doesn’t put aside the importance of the meaning of the victory. We did it because we prepare well.
“If you get all this preparation in the right way, you always be able to achieve something. We did it, so let’s try and do it again against a fantastic team.”
On preparing to face Man City
“What I see is a fantastic and amazing team, fantastic squad, fantastic manager, the champions of the Premier League, one of the best teams, so a really good challenge for us.
“Sustaining a level of high performance through all the season is very difficult. The big teams do it; City does it, Liverpool does it, other teams do it. A comparison with these teams is fantastic for us because two seasons ago we were in the Championship.
“Their quality is all over the pitch. They are a fantastic team and the idea of football, the way they play football – the how – it’s very difficult to find solutions to stop how they do it, but we’ll try, and we have to play also. We are going to compete, and we enjoy playing against good teams because that can only raise our standards and make us better.”
On four-game unbeaten run
“It is about realising that there’s up and downs, we must react to be up again. We achieve good performances, but we still I think have to improve and get better, because sustaining is always our final objective. To sustain our level of performance, we know it is hard, but we will try and be obsessed on achieving that on a regular basis.
“I am very proud of the way we compete. It is all about that. Our spirit of wanting always to compete, preparing to compete, no matter which opponent you have, no matter which competition, being always ready and having this character of going all the game knowing sometimes you are down in the game, but you still want to compete and achieve something.
“I am very pleased and very happy of that because we started the season some while ago. We have played 17 games and it’s a lot of competition already, but always with the same spirit of fighting for each ball, and we are going to go again, knowing that recovery time is important.
“All the players are recovering. It’s important to give them some space to rest, to eat well and prepare well the game of Sunday.”
On Jota’s fitness
“He’s not 100 per cent, he still has some issues, hopefully he’ll be with us soon. It’s a matter of time, first is taking away the pain that he is still suffering every time he tries to run, but our medical department is taking care of it.
“The pain is not stopping him; he’s active, he does a lot of exercises, a lot of cardio, so it’s time to manage, then he’ll get the routine of the training sessions and if it’s soon – that’s better, because we are a very short squad and every player is important. Everyone.”
On Jimenez having an international break
“It’s something that we already predicted, so we knew. Now is the right moment [for a break], so it’s good that he isn’t going with his national team, so he’ll be with us here and maybe I’ll give him a couple of days to disconnect.
“But it’s not about stopping – a football player cannot stop totally, they always have to keep some training sessions, adapting to the moment that we want, and it’ll be his own programme, so he becomes stronger in the future.”