Nuno Espirito Santo is going into the Black Country derby hoping to bring smiles to the faces of Wolves supporters following last weekend’s disappointment against Burnley.
The head coach believes the effects of the Covid-19 virus, which has struck a proportion of his squad in recent weeks, is a reason for a drop in energy levels during last Sunday’s match, and not a lack of commitment or motivation, but has promised supporters that his players will do everything they can to try and bounce back to winning ways when they step out against the club’s historical rivals on Monday evening.
On his second Black Country derby
“They have a very strong squad and they have been showing that, but we know that, and we have to prepare well. That’s what we’re going to do on Saturday and Sunday; prepare all our players to face a tough opponent.
“Every game is important. Every game is important to us and to our fans because we know our fans are committed to us, they feel our joys, they feel much more our unhappiness or sadness, so we are together on this because every game is important.
“What I can promise and what we can promise to our fans is that we’re going to do everything we can to give them joy, and hopefully we have them again because we feel their strength when they are behind us and we miss that.”
On coping with pressure in recent weeks
“Like I always did – focus on my work, focus on what we have to do and then people don’t talk about you. When people don’t talk about you, it’s because everything is ok.
“I address it by focus, dedication, trying to find why the mistakes happened, where it came from. It’s hard work, but not dictated by external expectations, mainly by yourself, because you have to address it, you have to look at it and realise that when you don’t do well, you get punished.”
On being his own biggest critic
“When you lose four-zero at home, you don’t play a good game; offensively we don’t do anything, offensively we were so poor, of course, the question has to be raised, and we made these questions among ourselves because it all starts from here.
“When you have a bad result and you know after a couple of days why this happened, you move forwards and the answers come after, and we had good answers.
“You don’t ask questions why you are upset. You ask questions when your mind is clear, you’ve assumed your own responsibilities and then you move forwards.”
On Covid affecting his players’ energy levels
“[Burnley loss] was not an issue of commitment, I’m totally sure about that. It had to do with energy.
“We have had several players who have been in isolation and immediately we have been using these players due to the circumstances of the squad, because the player during that period doesn’t show any kind of symptoms.
“But we’ve been affected by players losing and decreasing a lot of their performances a few weeks after the moment of the infection of the virus. Especially in the game of Burnley, we felt that.
“Some of our players were without energy, they were not able to do the actions they wanted to do because they were not physically capable of doing that.
“But why didn’t we see that before the game? Why did this lack of energy only show after one week? It’s something that everybody is going to take a look at and really see that after a player has been infected, the 10 days is not the issue. The issue is what is coming after the virus – this complete absence of energy.
“I can only put that down to the virus, nothing to do with the commitment because ever since my players arrived, they have been nothing short of extraordinary.”
On learning a lot from this season
“We have learnt a lot, but honestly what happened this season is not our reality. It’s something that we have faced, constantly been with issues, and we have to solve them.
“As a learning process, it’s been useful because we need to prepare and plan better. When you look back, of course there are circumstances that you cannot control, but what we wanted from our initial plan, we couldn’t make it, so we have to reflect and plan much better.
“I think it’s everybody’s idea, all the managers; to have more of the ball, to score more times – it’s the perfect scenario, and we will chase that.”