Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has revealed how Ruben Neves ‘zones in’ and how practise makes perfect for his amazing free kicks.
The Portugal midfielder scored a wonderful set-piece in the recent 3-1 win against Arsenal, the latest in a series of 11 goals he has netted for Wolves, all collectors’ items and all from outside the penalty area apart from penalties.
This season the 22-year-old has scored from a free kick against Everton at home and a swerving drive against Liverpool in the FA Cup, plus penalties at home to Tottenham and away to Everton.
Asked if Neves practises his deliveries, Nuno said: “Yes, of course. It’s not this season he has done that – since he was in Portugal, Ruben has done this. He’s a good kicker of the ball but he has to work on it and he does.
“He spends a lot of time working on it, not only him but other specialists as well, not that they are trying to be him. But it is something he works on, really works on, so credit for him.
“Nuno added: It is a routine. If you establish yourself a routine on this specific moment, and you do it over and over again, you will improve. But it is a routine; you cannot guess.
“So he looked confident and did the same gestures and approach to a free kick that he would do for a training session when he’s by himself. It was a moment of total focus and concentration on where he wants to kick the ball.
“He practises a lot, a lot, a lot. But not every day because he has a day off.”
Meanwhile, Nuno has revealed how he retained faith in Diogo Jota.
The exciting forward has scored 10 goals this season, all coming in 21 league and cup games since December 5 when he was paired up front in partnership with Raul Jimenez in the game that saw the switch from 3-4-3 to 3-5-2.
Jota failed to score or assist in his first 14 appearances of the campaign, but Nuno says his belief in the former Atletico Madrid forward never wavered.
“I think he started (the season) very well,” said the head coach. “I don’t judge only on goals and assists. I remember the start of the season – we repeated ourselves with the same starting XI because we were happy with the performances of the players.”