Nuno Espirito Santo was delighted with the way Wolves’ young players have been stepping up to the plate when called upon by the first-team so far this season after under-23 stars helped his side to victory over Besiktas in the Europa League.
With a small squad of senior players, Nuno has often relied on players from the development team to come into his sides this season, with Oskar Buur, Taylor Perry and Owen Otasowie all featuring on Thursday night.
Although the head coach is expected to revert to his regular first-team squad for the visit of Jose Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur for Sunday afternoon’s Premier League clash, Nuno was pleased with how his young charges have performed in the first-team environment, but insists they still have a long way to go in their growth as professional footballers.
On giving opportunities to young players
“The idea is to build them, try to make them grow, try to make them better and stronger so that they are useful options and solutions for us.
“I’m delighted and cannot thank them enough – all the group of the under-23s, the under-18s, the help that they’ve been giving us in training sessions, playing, playing well and competing well. It’s fantastic, some of them were amazing and this is what it’s all about.
“I’m really pleased, but it’s step by step as they have a long way to go.
“It’s one of the jobs that every manager has to have, to look and see how I can improve, no matter how old the player is, how can I improve him. If he’s not in a good moment, what can I do to change, what solution can I have – every manager gives all their energy into that aspect.
“Sometimes you do it, sometimes you are not able, but what is more important is the player believes in you and the things that you say and they go alongside, side by side, to try and improve the player.”
On facing his former Porto manager
“He’s one of the greatest managers, so should be in football, and it will be a pleasure to receive him here in Molineux, and compete and play, but it will be a tremendous pleasure to have him.
“I don’t have to say many things, just see what Mourinho has done wherever he goes. I have too much work [to speak with Mourinho], we’ve had too much work since the beginning of the season, we don’t switch off, we’re always working to prepare ourselves, this is what it’s all about.
“It will be a chance to catch up after the game, but now I’m focused on what we did on Thursday, we will watch the game, there were players training in the afternoon and then we have to prepare on Friday and Saturday.”
On expectations of Spurs
“I don’t know, I don’t know. What I know is that it’s going to be a very tough game, competitive for sure, against a fantastic team, fantastic players, fantastic manager, so it will be very tough for us. But we recover today, tomorrow and Sunday, we will be ready and we will compete.
“This is what it’s all about, to compete – no matter what opponent you have, let’s go.”
On the bond between his players
“The most important thing is the relationship they have between them, among them; the way they gel, the way they can lift themselves to prepare and compete, the way they compete on the pitch – this is the biggest motivation that they have.
“They have competition driving them on, while cooperating with each other to compete – that’s the idea. What drives us is that we think we can always improve. This is what drives us, always can improve, always can do things better.
“We knew what we were expecting [by going to Marbella], but that’s the idea, to go and regroup, be in a nice environment 24 hours a day. There were a lot of things we did as a group besides training, but we trained and we prepared ourselves well. It was enjoyable but we are ready to go.”