Nuno Espirito Santo wants to ‘out-smart’ Manchester United tonight like Burnley did Wolves as he revealed why their form varies against the top and bottom teams.
The Wolves head coach admitted his team were undone by the quick free kick that let in Chris Wood for Conor Coady’s own goal inside 90 seconds at Turf Moor at the weekend.
“Of course we have looked at all of the game – it’s about finding the why,” said Nuno. “Why we didn’t perform well against Burnley was we conceded a goal in the first minute, and that required a different performance.
“We should have been more concentrated and more focused because Burnley were smarter than us in those moments.
“You reflect and you analyse, and you see all of the games Burnley played before, they never did a fast free kick like that, for example.
“They have such height and strength in their aerial duels, that when they have a free kick, you expect the ball to go into the box.
“So you finish up and say ‘why did that happen?’ Because they were smarter than us.”
Wolves beat Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup 17 days ago at Molineux. Much of the personnel battling it out tonight will be the same as the last encounter. But Nuno wants them to be smarter than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
“Yes – this is the game. I don’t know if you use the expression ‘cat and mouse’?” he said. “Sometimes you have to try to surprise our opponents again.
“I don’t know if we surprised them (last time). What I know is that we performed really well and we competed really well.
“We had a lot less of the ball than Saturday but we still had the capacity to win the game. Saturday was the other way around – we had more of the ball and didn’t win the game.”
Wolves have fared better against the top six than the teams in the relegation zone this season.
Nuno hinted that not enough credit is given to the opposition or the unpredictability of each game.
“It doesn’t matter who you face, or which position we are in the table, it’s always a new challenge, it’s always a new game,” he stressed.
“The unpredictable part of the game is so important that you cannot just say ‘this happened because of this’.
“On Saturday we didn’t win because we played against a team that has not performed so well in the competition and is not at the top, yet we lost because it is a game, that’s why it’s called a game, because it is so unpredictable.
“The reasons for it is the hardest part of our work and we still have to improve on that.
“But sometimes we reflect on the other results we have had. It’s not a mystery, it’s the reality of the game.
“You really have to focus on what you have to do.”