Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy insists the squad has been enjoying the intensity and challenge of a first pre-season under new head coach Bruno Lage.
The experienced stopper played the full 90 minutes of the team’s opening friendly of the Lage era against Crewe, and although the result might not have gone Wolves’ way, Ruddy believed there were plenty of positives to take – none more so than the return of Raul Jimenez who was back on the pitch following the horrific injury he suffered in November.
On getting pre-season underway
“It was really good for us. I thought the first half-an-hour, 45 minutes, we were very good, playing exactly the way the manager wants us to play and we were getting a little bit of joy from that.
“Overall, it’s a good learning curve for the two week’s we’ve been going now, it’s been tough, quite intense, but it’s another step in the right direction for the way we want to be at the start of the season.”
On preparing for a new campaign
“It’s always been the case, certainly under Nuno and now under the new manager, that the club wants to improve year on year.
“Our aim this season is to improve, and the manager has come in with a brand-new philosophy, a brand-new way of playing, he’s challenging the players tactically and physically, and it’s about rising to it for us.
“We have to adapt to the way he wants us to play, and I thought the first half-an-hour today we saw glimpses of that. We faded a bit at the end of the first-half and at the start of the second, but that’s due to the fact we’ve been training very intensely over the last few weeks.”
On working under Lage
“It’s been really good. I’ve got nothing but positives to say about him. The way he is as a man, the way he treats the players, the way he conducts himself on the training pitch; because he’s very thorough in what he wants.
“But he’s got a good group of lads to work with. We’re a very receptive bunch of players and we’ve been very receptive of him as he has to us as well.
“We’re all really enjoying the work, he’s a fantastic coach and I think we’re going to reap the rewards with working with him over the long-term.
“What we’ve done in the last two weeks has been really good, it’s just a shame we couldn’t match it with a result today, but there’s been plenty of positives.”
On the return of Jimenez
“It’s amazing. He’s been back in training for a few months, but to see him out on the pitch is brilliant.
“It’s surreal to see how well he’s done in such a short space of time. I think it was only three or four weeks after he did it and he was out and about, walking, doing keepy-ups with the ball, and it was incredible.
“But he’s worked tirelessly hard to get back to the point that he’s at now. We take our hats off to him and we’re delighted to have him back. It’s a testament to himself and the medical team, and obviously the support that we got at the time for the injury.”
On Raul getting 30 minutes on the pitch
“He’s done all the tests, he’s come through everything, and that’s why I said it’s a testament to our medical team because they’ve made sure he’s ticked off every box that he’s needed to before he stepped out onto the pitch.
“Fair play to Crewe, they gave him a good reception as well, which is brilliant to see, and I thought we saw exactly what he brings to the team in the half-an-hour he had.
“His link up play, his intelligence and the way he presses for us is vital. He was well up for it and his flick-ons and heading ability in general hasn’t really been affected, and he might even have a bit more power because he’s got the headband.
“It’s been a long overdue return for him, but we’re delighted to have him back and look forward to him playing more this season.”
On the impact of Jimenez’s absence
“We had a lot of different factors that created a but of unbalance, or a little bit of indifferent performances last season.
“But without a shadow of a doubt, Raul being out was the biggest of those differences. It’s very rare that you come across a player who is so valuable to a team, but I think that’s exactly what Raul is to us.
“He brings so much to the team, he starts the press for us, and he’s such an intelligent player, he knows where to send players, in link-up play when we’ve got the ball he lets players know they can bounce it into him with one touch, so he’s invaluable to us.”
On new signings settling in
“Rayan [Ait-Nouri] was with us last year, so he knows the changing room well, we know him well and know what he can bring to our team because he’s a superb player.
“[Francisco] Trincao has settled in quite seamlessly, as you would expect. He already knows a lot of the changing room anyway, and he showed glimpses of fantastic quality and I think he’ll be a great player for us.
“But we’ve still got a few of the boys to come back.”
On this week’s training camp in Marbella
“Pre-season is always a slog, but when you get the chance to get together as a group, have a few days away and really bond together, that will really help.”