Jose Sa is relishing a chance to get back on the pitch for the first time in two weeks after a pair of Covid-enforced postponements saw Wolves not feature during the Christmas fixtures.
The Portuguese goalkeeper has become an instrumental part of the gold and black squad, both on and off the pitch, since his arrival from Olympiacos in the summer, helping Wolves to the joint-second best defensive record in the Premier League so far this season.
But Sa admits the team still has plenty to improve upon if they are to reach their aims for the campaign, which is due to get back underway with their first game of 2022, as the old gold travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Bank Holiday Monday.
On conceding just twice in last seven games
“It’s very good. In the beginning we were adapting because we had a new coach, a new strategy and a new game, but we are improving game by game and we are happy.
“We have our targets and our goals, and we will fight for them. My target is to help the team to win and don’t concede goals. At the end of the season, we will see what happens and we will see what we achieve all together.”
𝚂𝙰𝙵𝙴 𝙷𝙰𝙽𝙳𝚂 x 𝙹𝙰𝚉𝚉 𝙷𝙰𝙽𝙳𝚂— Wolves (@Wolves) December 29, 2021
On facing Ronaldo and United
“I’ve never played against him before, and I’ve never played with him before, I’ve only been with him and trained with him in the national team.
“He’s an amazing player and a difficult player to mark, and it will be a very good game. I came here to play these games. But here, all the games are amazing. Amazing atmospheres, amazing stadiums, amazing pitches, and I came here to do this.
“We were close to beating them the last time we played them at Molineux, but this is football. We will try our best at Old Trafford and we will try to take the win because we play always to win the game.
“But we know it will be difficult because Manchester is a very good team, a very strong team, and we know we’re going to have to work and fight.”
On his first six months at Wolves
“It came in the best moment. If I waited one more year, maybe it was one year late. Maybe if I come here earlier, it wasn’t a good time too. But I’m happy with the time and I’m happy to be here.
“It was not going to be easy to replace Rui. He is a very good goalkeeper and he did history here in the club.
“Of course, it was difficult to replace him, but here we have a very good group and they helped me to adapt to the league and to the football. This helped me a lot and gave me confidence to help them too.”
On reuniting with Portuguese teammates
“It’s not just them, we have an amazing group and this reflects the table and what we are doing, because we are very much like a family. If I miss, I have my friends behind me, and if they miss, I am there for them. All of the players are like this.
“But I knew a lot of them from the national team and from Porto too, such as Ruben Neves, and I was happy to be here with them because they are all amazing players.
“Of course, it helped me to adapt to here because when you have friends here you could ask them what the club do and how they manage their rules here and they can help you.”
On working with Tony Roberts
“He’s a very good guy and we work very good because he has both sides. Outside of the pitch, he’s a very good guy and a very good friend, and inside of the pitch, he’s a very good coach.
“I’ve learned a lot, but it’s not just me, I talk for John [Ruddy] and Louie [Moulden] and Andy [Sondergaard] now, because we’ve all learned a lot with him.
“I’m really happy to work with him and I’ve improved a lot. I’ve tried to do different things and I try to learn because I’m here to do this – to improve and to learn and to be better all days, because I want to be better tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.”
On being a sweeper-keeper
“It’s not easy to practice that, but we work on it. Before, I already liked to be out of the goal to try and take the balls when they are put behind the defence.
“Here, we work this too and the coach wants us to be high up the pitch because sometimes the team are high and he wants us to be there to help them.”
On Kilman’s impressive season
“I talked with him a few weeks ago and said, ‘Max, the first training session I was here, when I saw you, I thought this guy cannot be a player’, because he defended passive, he didn’t run and he didn’t mark, so I thought it was impossible.
“But three weeks ago, I had to say sorry to him and eat my words. He is amazing. He’s doing a very good season, like all of the defenders; Saiss, Coady, Marcal, Rayan [Ait-Nouri], Nelson [Semedo] and Ki [Hoever], they are all doing an amazing season.
“For me, it gives me more confidence because I know they are there for me when I need them. This is good for the goalkeeper when you have a very good defence.
“It’s the same as when you have a goalkeeper who can help you, it gives more confidence to the defence too.”