Nuno Espirito Santo admits his side’s defensive performance against West Ham United took away from a positive attacking showing as Wolves fell to a 3-2 defeat at Molineux.
The head coach was disappointed after witnessing his players produce another slow start, allowing the Hammers to go three goals ahead before Wolves hit back just before half-time. In spite of being the stronger of the two teams in the second-half, Nuno felt his players gave themselves too much of a mountain to climb due to their play at the back.
On another slow start
“I’m not pleased with the way we started the game. In possession we were good, but very bad defending, especially on transitions of West Ham that we should have done better with.
“They require different approaches, trying to stop the game and not allow players to run. All the good things we did in attack was taken away by how poor we approached these defensive situations.
“We’ve been struggling with this situation and we are not starting the games well, we always concede first, and that’s something that we have to look at, but it’s not easy.
“A couple of games before we’ve been able to deal with that situation, we have reverted that situation, with really good first-halves, but today we go back to that pattern of not staring well and conceding. That makes our tasks very difficult.”
On poor defending for West Ham’s goals
“It wasn’t a bad game. In possession we started well, but very poor on defence, especially on transitions and counter-attacks, we should have done better.
“We produced a lot of situations. The problem with this match was clearly on our defensive aspects, not our offensive. Players running 30/40 metres requires a different approach, so that takes away all the good things we did in attack – how poor we defended.
“We produce, we create, but we require better finishing. We had some chances but conceding three goals at home against a tough opponent like West Ham becomes very difficult to revert the result. The reaction of the team was good, but not enough to take something from the game.
“We have to analyse and see that we cannot start the game so bad. It becomes much more difficult when you concede a second and a third. Every time West Ham went to our goal there was a situation that if they didn’t score, there was danger. That takes away the balance and the confidence to attack.”
On injuries to Jonny and Boly affecting defensive showing
“Of course. When you don’t have the same routines, the same players, everything is not the same and becomes harder. Even though the reaction was good, we started the game very bad.
“We lost important players in the last moments and trying to move and find a team that we thought would be able to compete, but losing routines always affects.
“It’s been a test all season long. Not only for us but for all the teams. For us, the circumstances of the players back, losing players, players returning, it’s testing us and making us find solutions so we can finish the season well, but it’s been a tough test.”
Wishing a speedy recovery to Jonny Otto who will begin a period of rehabilitation after injuring both his ACL and MCL.— Wolves (@Wolves) April 5, 2021
We're with with you every step of the way, @JonnyOtto19.
On scoring before half-time
“It gives you belief, it gives you the momentum that you feel that you can still chase the game, and that’s what we did in the second-half.
“We played a good second-half, but not enough to take something from the game. West Ham is a good team; they defend well, they are organised, they always have the danger on the counter-attack, and our attitude was good, but I’m disappointed on the way we started – I didn’t like it.”
On aims for the remaining eight matches
“We must try to improve. Today was not the best one, but we keep on the situation, try to improve, getting our players better so we can finish the season well.
“It’s very important, because it’s a lot of games to be played, and we must compete better. That’s always been our aim and will be the aim for the rest of the season because the way we finish is the way we can start [next season].
“But we must compete better, we must play better if we want to finish the season the way we want. A lot needs to be done and there is a lot of things we can improve on.”