Nuno Espirito Santo insists the ‘amazing’ bond between players and fans can be the key to Wolves reaching their first FA Cup final for 59 years.
A huge exodus of 34,300 supporters will be heading to Wembley for Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Watford, the biggest travelling support since around 50,000 attended the Sherpa Van Trophy final in 1988.
“The fans are important in all situations. What they are giving to us is amazing,” said Nuno. “It’s always about the fans – the togetherness between the players and fans exists now.
“Both parties have made big progress on it. The way they support and back the team is amazing. At the same time, there is respect of the players towards the fans.
“There is no negotiation on how hard we work, and this is what I think our fans appreciate, they like that we fight for each and every ball.”
Nuno admits he can’t help but feel the togetherness as the city has been struck by Cup fever.
“Just go around streets of Wolverhampton and feel it. Knowing 34,000 of our pack and we will be there together,” he said.
Wolves have not played at Wembley in 31 years while it is their first semi-final since 1998 and Nuno accepts it’s going to be a hugely memorable occasion for the fans.
“Of course it’s Wembley, it’s special,” he said. “Just saying Wembley means a lot to everyone in football. It means a lot to us and our fans.”
But the Portuguese coach stressed the importance of playing the match, rather than the occasion.
“Everybody knows what it could mean but we have to play it just like another game,” he said. “Then make it special to make something happen – play the game.
“You have to know how to play it – focus on the game, don’t think about anything else – what it could mean comes after it. We must make this game special by playing the game, action after action.”
Wolves are seventh and Watford eighth in the Premier League and Nuno is expecting a tight, difficult game.
“It’s going to be very close. Watford are a very good team, with a good manager, and very organised,” he added. “It’s going to be a tight game – the players they have means it’s going to be very tough.”
Watford hold the upper hand on Wolves this season having won 2-0 at Molineux back in October. Back then Nuno was still playing a 3-4-3 formation, and Wolves’ two-man central midfield were dominated by the Hornets’ trio that day.
Since Wolves switched to 3-5-2 with Leander Dendoncker as an extra midfielder however, they have not looked back and have registered 14 wins, five draws and five defeats with the revised look.
“I think both teams changed since October – that was a long time ago. Nothing will be repeated,” stressed Nuno.
“We analyse all games, saw their intentions on the day and we have to be ready for it, while playing our own game. We have to compete compete compete, one ball at a time.”