Nuno Espirito Santo described Leander Dendoncker as “huge” to his team on the day the Belgian midfielder committed his future to the club by signing a new contract.
Dendoncker has missed just one game this season and his influence in the middle of the park is considerable for Wolves, so his new contract was a big boost to the club. Nuno, speaking ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Chelsea, spoke positively about Dendoncker, Raul Jimenez’s recovery and the growing versatility of his squad’s shape.
On Dendoncker’s influence on the team
“He’s important. You can see by the number of games that he’s been involved in. What he gives to the team is huge for us. He’s a talented player, a hard worker and a fantastic boy. He’s huge and very important for us.
“Not only Leander, all the team must realise we must find solutions, occupying areas of the pitch Raul [Jimenez] gave us naturally, it requires adaptation and an extra effort from a lot of players, to try and engage in the box. Leander does that fantastically well.”
On Moutinho’s suspension
“It was harsh. But the decision is made and there’s no point in talking about that anymore. Joao is not going to be with us, another player must come in. But I saw the images after and it was a harsh decision on him.”
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On Raul’s absence
“It’s always a big disruption when you lose a player, especially Raul and especially when you consider the circumstances. The situation that happened was a traumatic moment for everybody, but we have to overcome that, and this is the way we work.
“Raul is going to be OK and he’s going to be back to what he was; back to the same player and the same person that he was – this is more important – and now, we have to work together to keep improving and competing. It was a traumatic situation, but I’m positive that with time, step by step, things will get back better with Raul.”
On the last game
“I think we improved on our performance. I know that at the end of the day, all that matters is the result, but I think we did a very good game against Villa. We were a good team, we were organised and we created a lot of chances, and maybe I’m different to everybody else, but what is really important to me is the performance, the way we play the game, and we improved a lot on our game.”
On the defence against Villa
“We already worked on the game. There was a lot that we can improve. The shape with the back four is different. The runs are different. The points of pressure. How the midfield engages with the backline, this requires work and we are on it.
“Being versatile enough and having a squad that can understand both ideas (back three or four) is better for us. We are trying to find the best solution for the team game by game. Being able to control two ideas is better for us, no doubt about that.”
On the transition between systems
“It’s good. Some games good, really good, some games not so good. This is the process of any team, of us in this particular moment, even before. We are trying to build an idea that can give us other options, even to try and adapt during matches.
“It’s something I really want. Success can come in different ways. As long as you prepare them, and this is what we’re working on, trying to prepare better for our immediate future. It’s about getting different solutions inside the squad, so we can compete better game by game.
“We are working very hard every day with the players, no matter what system we’re going to play. We are improving players, we are trying to make players better. Those that were here before, that that are arriving, it requires a different idea and we look for it.”