“It’s like trying to fill a big bottle of water, each day you have to put something in there because you’re going to need it for the future.” The simple, yet powerful message of Nuno Espirito Santo, who is continually improving his Wolves group.
As the old gold prepare for a short trip across the West Midlands to take on Aston Villa on Saturday, they do it on the back of consecutive victories following the return of the Premier League. West Ham United and AFC Bournemouth have been defeated in the past week, but for Nuno, this project needs improvements every single day to move forward – and that’s exactly what he demands from his group.
On a strong start since returning
“We were able to anticipate well the scenario of the Premier League. Before the lockdown, we prepared well in terms of individual planning for players, the way they changed their behaviours and normal lives. Since we’ve come back, the players have been amazing.
“This is our philosophy, it’s like trying to fill a big bottle of water, each day you have to put something in there because you’re going to need it for the future – it’s a simple view. That cannot be a surprise, because as long as we keep this belief and work ethic, we are ready to compete.”
On the table’s significance
“The table doesn’t mean anything. This mini tournament we have, a tight schedule, anything is possible. We look at Villa as a strong opponent, because Dean Smith I know and faced in the Championship. His ideas of football, the players and talent, this is what we are focused on. It’s a special game for everybody so let’s compete well in a very different, but tough environment.”
“It’s been tough for everybody. I think the schedule is tiring. For us, it’s been tight since the beginning. 50 games in one season for us is many more than other teams, and it’s very demanding on the players."
On respecting the opposition
“What I know is I appreciate Dean Smith a lot. The time we spent together talking was really enjoyable, I respect him a lot, and his staff and players. Of course, we are rivals and it’s special for us, but I appreciate Dean Smith and I was very thankful for the words I read from him. It’s both ways, enormous respect and admiration.”
On the fixture ahead
“Both teams are full of talented players. Villa have such good players, they’re a good team, with good dynamics. We have to be really focused, it’s going to be a very tough game, hopefully enjoyable but us, as manager, don’t look forward that, especially me, I want organisation, focus, action after action, and us competing until the end – this our spirit. After that, if people enjoy it, fantastic.”
On the relentless schedule
“It’s been tough for everybody. I think the schedule is tiring. For us, it’s been tight since the beginning. 50 games in one season for us is many more than other teams, and it’s very demanding on the players.
“All the teams in the Premier League, Villa, us, whatever, you can see every game you watch it’s demanding. It’s a tough period. We have to be careful because we didn’t have a pre-season, nobody can honestly say that this is the best way to prepare a football team.”
On not benefit of empty stands
“It’s not helpful for any team in the world, playing without fans. It’s a question of trying to adapt and under the circumstances perform well – realising things are different, but at the same time, focusing on the pitch. There’s no less or more advantage, football is to be played with fans.”