Nuno | On 'cruel' defeat, learning from loss and taking positives

Nuno Espirito Santo felt his Wolves side were inflicted a cruel blow having fallen in the final moments of the game against Manchester United, as they ended 2020 in defeat.

The head coach, who gave first Premier League starts to Ki-Jana Hoever and Vitinha, as well as bringing Rayan Ait-Nouri back into the defence following injury to Marcal, believed his players performed admirably after just a 48-hour window between the match and Sunday’s draw with Tottenham Hotspur, but knows the late loss will act as a moment of learning for his players.

On finishing the year with a defeat

“It hurts a lot, especially when you work so hard, but football is that, it goes both ways. It’s what we did in the game which is important. Of course, it’s a tough one to take, but we will take it and go to the next one.

“It was a tough game, but I think we started well. In the first-half, we created situations and created some chances. We combined well and did well in the attack, and sometimes we should have finished better the actions, but we created good offensive situations.

“In the second-half, we were very organised and didn’t allow too many chances to a tough team, until the last moment, unfortunately. It’s cruel, but it’s the game.

“We have to know it requires focus to the last moment, but we did a good game. We were a threat and it’s disappointing in the end and a tough one to take. But the effort of the boys was amazing and the answer of the team was very good. The players that had only one day to recover did brilliant and showed a lot of character.

“It’s too bad that we didn’t take something, but the attitude and the work was amazing.”

On the performances of Ait-Nouri and Hoever

“They’re very young and this is a learning process and this game will teach them a lot, especially the cruelty of the game that requires focus and good defensive actions until the last minute.

“The talent is there and they will have options because it’s a tight schedule and they are ready to go. But I’m really pleased with the attitude and the efforts of the boys, in a tough schedule and the boys who came in gave us good answers, so let’s keep moving forward.”

On learning from the last-minute loss

“This is football. It’s a learning process and we have to know that sometimes it’s cruel in the moment, but you cannot stand and be sorry about what has happened.

“Of course, every time we concede a goal, it’s something that is a concern. Every time we don’t score a goal, we are concerned also. It’s both parts of the pitch. It’s the process of the team.

“There’s nothing personal in our philosophy – it’s all ‘us’. They will learn because it’s the cruelty of the game and when you have bad moments, I truly believe it’s a good chance to learn, and know new solutions are required.”

The talent is there and they will have options because it’s a tight schedule and they are ready to go. But I’m really pleased with the attitude and the efforts of the boys.
Nuno Espirito Santo

On the January transfer window

“We speak every day. Now when the transfer window opens, we have to sit down and plan and take a chance to rebalance our squad.”

On the rise in Covid cases at Premier League clubs

“The rising of the cases is increasing massively all over the country, and we are not an exception, we are part of society.

“The protocols that we try to follow, try to avoid a lot of things, but some things are impossible to avoid and if there is a break coming, I will have to realise and people have to sit down and see if it’s for the better.

“What’s going to happen next, how we’re going to do the schedule – there’s a lot of issues that require good answers.”