O'Neil | 'An incredible performance with ten men'

Gary O’Neil says his players produced a performance to be proud of, particularly with ten men, despite defeat at Liverpool on Sunday.

The Old Gold were well in the game when Nelson Semedo was sent off, following a VAR check which frustrated his head coach. From then, Wolves fell behind, but stuck to their game plan, caused Liverpool problems and were unlucky not to finish on the scoresheet. Reflecting with a hint of what might have been following Pedro Neto’s return to fitness, O’Neil was full of praise for his players post-match.

On the final day performance at Anfield

“We worked well this week. We had a real focus about what we were trying to do, and we produced an incredible performance with ten men, for that long at Anfield. Not many teams would have held out for that second half the way we did.

“There was a big penalty shout on Matheus Cunha while we were down to ten men. We scored a really good goal that is marginally offside through ‘Doc’. Rayan and Cunha should score and Pedro had a good free-kick. We should be really proud of the lads what they managed to produce today with ten men. It was a disappointing result but that second half and that togetherness sums up what we have shown this year.”

On having Neto back available

“What a difference Pedro Neto would have made. We’ve seen at the end with what he gives us. To have been missing him pretty much since October has hampered us, but the lads have never given up and I’m really proud of what they showed today.

“The first half of the season we had everyone available, and we were a good side. Really tough to stop and then we got into a tough spell when we lost players and we had to dig in. Today we showed we can do that.”

On the officiating in the Premier League this season

“I think the game is in a bad place. The ref gives a yellow card for the sending off firstly. They can’t even pause it at the right place with VAR. It looks really high where they pause it. If you just play it a couple of frames longer then you see Nelson comes down on his foot. Even if we say it could be a red card, it’s definitely not clear and obvious. No one can tell me that cannot be a yellow card. The ref said it’s a yellow, so I don’t understand the need to get involved. Don’t understand it all.

“Then when you think, go on then, if you are going to get involved all day, then let’s have a look at the Cunha penalty. But no, they decided not to get involved on that one. I am unbelievably proud of the players.

“Unfortunately, and people will think it’s me moaning about VAR, but it’s funny how I get asked about it so much. The level again today is below what we expect and what we need it to be in the Premier League.”

On how VAR can be amended

“VAR is meant to be for big things. Like when Thierry Henry handballed it against Ireland. For massive things that everyone can see has obviously been missed. The referee has seen Nelson stand on the guy’s foot and said, 'That’s a yellow card’. That’s it. That’s all it is. There is no way that there is a clear and obvious error in there. I think people would probably argue it’s a strong yellow or somewhere between yellow and red possibly. There’s no way it is clear and obvious once it’s been given.

“We’ll see what they do in the summer and what they do for next season. When you talk about a game being indicative of what we have done this season. The VAR incidents today and the struggles we have had and the togetherness we have had to show is pretty much all encapsulated in today’s game.”