Richard Stearman has urged Wolves not to allow their FA Cup disappointment define their season – and grab a European spot instead.
The former Wolves defender, now at Sheffield United and hoping to join his old club in the Premier League next season, was a summariser for radio at Wembley as his old team-mates went down 3-2 after extra-time to Watford.
Wolves are eighth in the Premier League behind Leicester on goal difference and they can claim a place in the Europa League if they finish seventh and Manchester City beat Watford in the Cup final.
“There are still things on offer for them – the obvious European spot to go for and this shouldn’t define their season. It’s not the end of the world for them,” the Wolverhampton-born centre-back told www.wolvesbite.com
“They have lost in the semi-final of the FA Cup but they still have seventh place to fight for.
“They will have been devastated in that dressing room and rightly so. They came so close to an FA Cup final, but this game shouldn’t take away from what has been an incredible season for them.
“They need to get back to the league and finish off the job that they have done so well in.
“Europe is the obvious goal that’s an offer for them currently. The FA Cup has gone for them now and they can look ahead to the league games and Southampton away and hopefully get the three points.
“They can have a few days of being devastated from this then get back to work and hopefully there will be no hangover.
“The staff can be fantastically proud of what they have achieved, not just in getting to the semi-final, but the season as a whole.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow and the league can’t come around quickly enough for Wolves.”
Stearman is a self-confessed Wolves fan whose father Paul used to work for Marston’s Brewery in the city. The former Leicester defender played 253 games for Wolves over two spells and famously scored in front of The Kop to knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup at Anfield in 2017.
He admitted he found watching his hometown team far more nerve-wracking than playing, especially with friends and former team-mates such as Matt Doherty, Conor Coady and Ivan Cavaleiro in action.
“It was hard for me to watch – I was more nervous watching it than when I play!” he said. “It was tough for me to see the lads lose and be upset. These are ex-team-mates as well.
“I’m delighted those boys are doing so well too and I’m very proud of my friends who are still playing for them, and of Wolverhampton as a team. It’s the team I support so I want to see them do as well as I can.
“They have done fantastically well, not just this season but last season as well and it’s a good time to be a Wolves supporter.”
Stearman admitted he was as stunned as anyone after his old side led 2-0 up until the 77th minute then were still ahead 180 seconds from the final whistle until Troy Deeney’s penalty sent the tie into extra-time.
“It’s a devastating blow for everyone connected to Wolverhampton Wanderers,” he added. “For 80-odd minutes, it looked like Wolves were going to do it and get into the final.
“As it happened, it wasn’t meant to be. Watford came back strongly in the second half, Gerard Deulofeu was a game-changing introduction and got the two goals, and after he got the first goal, it was one-way traffic for a while.
“They managed to push that into extra-time and got the winner.”