Nuno Espirito Santo views the final four matches of the season as an opportunity for his whole squad, regardless of age or experience, to improve in time for next season.
The head coach handed youth a chance in the Black Country derby on Monday, and wouldn’t have been disappointed, so now must find the right balance in his starting 11 against Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend. Helping his players develop in training every day gives Nuno huge satisfaction and he hopes a strong performance against the Seagulls will be a reflection of the hard work going on behind the scenes at Compton Park.
On using the final four matches
“It’s an opportunity for everybody. As a squad, we have four games to go that must and should be very useful for us, in terms of how we compete, how we approach the games, and it’s an opportunity for everybody, so we have to decide the team.”
On players improving individually
“They show every day in the training sessions, it’s not about the games in terms of evaluation. All the players in the squad, those that are available, they show every day in the training sessions that they can be options for the game.
“I truly believe every player has room to improve, no matter how old they are, how experienced they are, how many matches they’ve played, there’s always room to improve. We look at the players this way, there’s always some detail that we can support and give for him to perform better.”
On Silva working hard
“What you see on a matchday is a result of all the things that the players do. Fabio is a talented player, very young, he’s been growing in different situations during the season. He started coming from the bench, then had to play over and over.
“Then he had a moment where he was not starting and doing well. He started against West Brom – let’s see if he starts against Brighton or comes from the bench, but he always is a player that we still know has a long way to go and improve. I insist the talent is there.”
On the balance between youth and experience
“It’s finding the right balance among our squad, realising that we need a good mixture of experience and youth to be consistent, because all the seasons are really long and anything can happen, but it’s not the moment. We still have a lot of games to play and having the players available, it’s up to us to decide and choose the right way.”
On looking to a bigger squad
“This season, all of us have been affected, and that can’t take away our philosophy. We have to find the right balance. We’ll never decide numbers on ‘ifs’ – if you go around your life with ‘ifs’, it’ll be very difficult to decide. One of the ideas is to try and increase the numbers so we can be more prepared.
“We have to decide on the players that we have on loan, but it’s not the moment, we have specific dates to do so, and we’ll approach this situation in the right moment.”
On a tough situation for managers
“It’s been tough for everybody. We are no different from other teams, all the teams have suffered problems, the pandemic has affected us as a society and community, so we are trying to deal with all the situations, knowing it’s been hard and is going to be even harder to prepare what is in front of us because we don’t have access to the full protocol how it’s going to be, we don’t even know if when we return, if we have to be in quarantine according to the government.
“All these things have question marks in our daily situation, so it has affected everybody around the world, so we are no different.”