Conor Coady insists the Wolves players have known the significance of the Black Country derby since the second they walked through the doors of the club and, now it’s here, the excitement within the group in tangible.
For Coady, like the entire Wolves dressing room, Saturday will be the first taste of the fierce local rivalry, with Wolves and West Bromwich Albion going nine years without a meeting. As football supporters themselves, the Wolves players know the stature of the fixture and will be doing everything to do their absent supporters proud when battle commences come Saturday lunchtime, insists the skipper.
On the importance of the game
“We’ve been looking forward to it for years, we’ve just not had a chance to play in it. It’s a game you want to play in when you join the club. The lads know the importance of the fixture and it’s a game we need to improve in.
“It’s just a shame we’ve got to do it in front of an empty stadium, that’s the worst thing about it, that’s the massive negative, but in terms of stature of game, we know all about it and can’t wait for it.”
On the players being aware
“Everybody, first and foremost, is a massive football fan in our team. We’ve all grown up supporting teams and watching derbies, and been involved in derbies as players, so we all know the significance of them when they come around and it’s no different with the Black Country derby.
“We’re all massively looking forward to it, me in particular, I knew all about it when I joined the football club and really wanted to be involved. Now it’s here, it’s absolutely fantastic, but it’s just a bit of a downer that we can’t have the Wolves fans in Molineux to experience it as well.”
All focus turns to Saturday...— Wolves (@Wolves) January 14, 2021
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On playing for the fans
“We understand what it means most importantly to the supporters, that’s what the game is all about. We’re all football fans and understand what these games mean, not just us to as players and people, but to a lot of other people involved in the club. We understand how big it is going into it, but also understand a need for improvement from ourselves.
“We’ve not had it for so long, everybody’s been waiting for this sort of game. Now it’s here, we’ll take it as another game but knowing the importance.”
On the need to get back on track
“If we look too much into it, we’ll get side-tracked from what we’re really looking for, which is an improvement from ourselves. You’ve seen all season, we’ve been trying to evolve, finding new ways of playing, so it’s important we don’t go away from that, but also take in the feeling the supporters have about the game because we know how big it is.
“We’re trying to listen to new ideas from our manager. We’re trying to get better every day in training, and it takes time. When you look at playing a different way, I think people think it comes easy, but we had a certain way of playing for three or four years, and we knew it like the back of our hand.
“In terms of putting our finger on the last couple of weeks, it’s hard because you come up against fantastic teams who try to beat you and over the last few weeks we’ve not been good enough to come away with results and we’ve got to make that better. It’s important we start in what is a huge game on Saturday.”
On the positives in recent weeks
“I think there’s been huge positives in all the games, I’ll be honest. We’ve had an awful lot of young players playing, who have done fantastically well. We train with them every day and they’re improving every day, and to see them come into the team and play the way they have has been really good, but it’s up to us to improve and get better.
“It’s not just the Everton game, where we dominated for large spells, because we switched off and came away with no points. That’s the biggest thing we’ve got to look at because we’ve got to be picking up points as soon as possible.”
On the belief remaining strong
“That will never be in question with our team and our football club. We haven’t become a bad team overnight; we’ve been in the Premier League for three years and we’re trying to improve.
“We’ve had to improve and we’re trying to do it a different way, by listening to our manager. I mention him all the time and the ideas he has are fantastic, so we listen to him every day to try and get better.
“Every day there’s a belief in our heads that we can go into the next game and get a win, and that will never change.”