Wanderers play Braga on brink of Europa League last 32

          THE LOWDOWN | Wolves Q & A

          2019/11/28 10:13
          By Stephen Gillett (Intro)

          Six Premier League games without a win at the start of the season had some questioning Wolves' ability to balance European football with their commitments in the English top flight. However, the Midlanders have roared back into contention on the domestic front and stand on the brink of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

          With reported Arsenal target Nuno Espirito Santo returning to his homeland for tonight's clash against Braga, Playmaker caught up with WolvesAyWe writer Adam Carless to get the lowdown on Wolves' season so far...

          1. After a hairy start to the season, you are now 5th in the Premier League and on the brink of the last 32 in the Europa League. Were you always confident that Wolves would hit their stride?

          With the quality that we have in the side we knew that we would be ok, I think with the Europa League, as long as we are in a good position in the league, there was never really anything to worry about. We may not have a lot of depth in first team players but our U23s always give their all and I think that’s really helped us on our way.

          2. Wolves were winless in their first six Premier League games (two defeats, four losses) this season, how big a part did Europa League qualifying play in this? Did Nuno Espirito Santo stick to his guns during this sticky patch or did he tweak players and tactics to turn things around?

          During the qualifying we certainly did ourselves proud to see it through, especially with a game every week - it sort of acted as our pre-season so I think fans may have thought that it would give us the confidence we needed to start the Premier League season well. That clearly wasn’t the case, but having that fightback ability meant that we were still picking up points here and there.

          The real difference came when Nuno switched back to a 5-2-3 which we hadn’t seen since the start of the 2018/19 season. It’s allowed our more creative players to make a difference in the middle and final third of the pitch and I think really that’s where the wins have come from.

          ©Getty / James Williamson - AMA

          3. Ruben Neves is obviously an outstanding talent, but just how important to Wolves is his midfield compatriot Joao Moutinho (who signed a new contract this week)?

          If you ask any Wolves fan I’m pretty sure they’ll tell you the same thing, Joao Moutinho has been one of the best Wolves players that the club has seen for quite a while. His ability to control the middle of the park and make things happen going forward is a big part of our game. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon either which is music to our ears.

          4. Wolves' progress under NES has been sensational over recent seasons...what steps do you now need to take to become genuine challengers for a 'Top Four' spot in the top flight?

          I think really we just need to continue to strengthen the side, but at the same time play every game how we have played for the past two and a half years.

          If we can get a bit more consistency in our results then there’s no reason why we can’t break into those top places. It’s also important to note that it’s quite a young squad so the players are only going to keep on getting better, especially when they are surrounded by senior players like Moutinho and Patricio who have that top-level experience.

          5. What have been your strengths and weaknesses so far this season?

          I think our biggest strength this season, in particular, has been our never-say-die attitude, especially in the early stages of the Premier League: it’s helped us to put points on the board and has encouraged the players to go that extra yard in games and grab wins - which has given us even more confidence.

          In terms of weaknesses, the main downside has been the inconsistency in defence due to injuries. It hasn’t really had a chance to settle with both Willy Boly and Ryan Bennett being out of the side. When we had Matt Doherty out of the side we did seem to struggle, as we don’t really have any direct replacement of the same quality and playing style as him.

          ©Getty / Alex Livesey

          6. A quick question on Adama Traore! He is arguably the most explosive player in the Premier League, and now appears to have established himself as a starter, rather than an impact sub, at good can he be?

          He has been brilliant, his development since last season has amazed Wolves fans and I think that’s what they appreciate the most - his desire to improve game by game.

          He’s cemented his right to be in that starting XI as a winger and fair play to him for doing that. Away from home he’s been brilliant, Man City away in particular, but with the Molineux crowd behind him more than ever before it sort of gives him even more confidence to get forward and create goals.

          We can’t wait to see more from him and he’s only going to get better with Nuno and his coaching staff at the helm.

          7. And finally...speculation is growing that Nuno Espirito Santos is being lined up as Unai Emery's replacement at Arsenal - just how worrying are these rumours? Do you expect him to stay put at Molineux?

          I think it just is what it is - a rumour. I don't see why he would leave as he's still building his project here, which he has been for two and a half seasons now.

          When you have a successful manager it's always going to create speculation especially around the bigger clubs. Nuno has dealt with it brilliantly though, refusing to comment on the matter out of respect for all parties, much like when he was linked with the Everton job in 2017.

          So, no, not worried in the slightest really - he clearly loves it here and it's extremely hard to see him leaving any time soon.

          Many thanks to Adam for his time with this Q & A - give him a follow and also check out WolvesAyWe for more great Wolves-related content. 





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