Nuno Espirito Santo knows the ambitions of Wolves and Chelsea rely heavily on the outcome of Sunday afternoon’s final Premier League tie of the season but insists he will be treating it as any other game.
Wolves require a victory at Stamford Bridge to guarantee Europa League football for a second consecutive campaign, while the hosts need the three points to satisfy their aims of finishing in the top four and a place in next season’s Champions League.
And although the head coach is expecting another high-quality match against the Blues with both sides coming into the last day of the season with something to play for, he wants his players to focus on their own tasks and compete when they step out onto the pitch.
On a final day showdown with Chelsea
“It’s a big game and a big challenge for us, against a very good team. It’s another chance to play well and to give a good football game to those spectators back home.
“Chelsea is a fantastic team and Frank [Lampard] is doing a fantastic job. The talent and the quality they have is very good. We have to be focused on the game and look at Chelsea as a big opponent, but at the same time let’s play. Let’s compete.
“Hopefully, it’s going to be a good game for everybody, especially for the players. The players are highly motivated to play the last game of the Premier League.”
On both sides needing the three points
“When you play for something, it’s always better for the game itself. I think both teams are relying and putting a lot of their own ambitions on this game.
“One of the things we always look at is trying to improve on a daily basis, hoping this will improve us through the season.
“Our players love to compete, they want to play the game, they want to try and do things well, searching for the improvement of the team. We’re always looking for a new challenge, and a new game is a new chance to do things better.
“This game is no different than any other. The approach is exactly the same, knowing Chelsea is a very good team, full of quality and talent in their squad.
“They play good football and we want to compete. We have one more training session tomorrow, so let’s prepare it well to compete on Sunday. Then, what happens after, we will see.”
On the unpredictability of football
“I don’t know how the game is going to develop. This is a mystery for everybody. This is football. This is a new game and new things are going to happen.
“These things are going to need answers from us and we need to find solutions to compete against a good team.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the game. Nobody knows. We can predict, we can guess, we can think about it, but when the moment comes, new things will happen.”
38 of 38.— Wolves (@Wolves) July 23, 2020
We go again.
On not focusing on the table
“We’ve always operated like that since the beginning. We always prepare for the game and approach the game thinking about what we want to do in the game and how we want to play.
“Of course, we take a look at our opponent before we decide how we want to do things. Basically, it’s like saying it’s always the same, no matter which team we are involved against, it’s always the same preparation and obsession to detail that will bring us an advantage.”
On spending time with family between Chelsea and Olympiacos
“Hopefully, yes. We have some time after Sunday to prepare the second draw against Olympiacos.
“Everybody needs a break, we need time to rest and recover in a good way. It’s not holidays for us, it will be a small break and we have to go again. But definitely, everybody needs a couple of days off.”
On Saturday marking two years since Wolves’ season began
“This season, football, life and the world had something that nobody was expecting. A pandemic situation. The pandemic has been the biggest challenge for football, for everybody; all the teams, all the managers, all the players.
“This has robbed all the teams, all the preparations, all the planning that we had and has been about how to regain your levels of fitness, how to approach and be relentless enough to know that in a tight schedule you’ve got to go over and over again.
“This was definitely the biggest challenge; how to perform again after a pandemic.”
On possibility of five substitute rule remaining
“The rule of the substitutions came because of the pandemic, and the need that the teams had to manage better the time of competition after such long periods without competition.
“But honestly, when I look at the future and I look at next season, hopefully things will be normal, and I don’t see why this rule has to change.
“I truly believe that we should go back to three subs and no other breaks.”