Jonny Castro Otto has urged Wolves to improve their record against the lower-placed teams to secure a top-six position next season.
Wolves took 16 points off the first six clubs in the top flight last campaign, two more than they took from the bottom six in the Premier League table.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side finished nine points behind Manchester United, who ended up in sixth place. But Jonny reckons the improvement they need is to be more ruthless against the struggling teams next term if they are to gatecrash the automatic qualifying teams for European places.
“That’s the ambition,” said the 25-year-old wing-back. “I hope to fight with the top six for those places soon, and I’m sure that if it wasn’t for our results against teams below us in the table this season, we would already be there because against the big teams directly, we have done very well.
“Maybe that is where we need to improve the most, in games against the smaller teams.”
Nuno has set his stall out with Wolves evolving from a 3-4-3 formation into a 3-5-2 system halfway through the season. How ever Wolves set about trying to improve for next season, Jonny believes they will stay the same in terms of formation.
“He is a manager who is close to his players but who also tells us exactly what he expects from every one of us,” he said. “He is an ambitious and serious person who tries to get the best possible performances out of us all.
“He is always trying to make sure we are switched on, that what we do in training carries onto the pitch during matches, and that we don’t deviate from our identity. The identity of the team is what he cares about most.”
Jonny only signed for Atletico last summer from Celta Vigo before being immediately loaned to Wolves in a season-long agreement that has since turned into a four and a half year permanent deal signed in January at a fee of £18m. He admits some disappointment at not playing for Atletico but is more than happy to be testing himself in the Premier League.
“I am very happy. It has been a great year both on a collective and individual level,” he said. “We are seventh, so you can say we are first among the ‘mortals’ – after the big six. It’s a shame we couldn’t reach the FA Cup final, but the team is growing and getting great results.
“For me, right now, the Premier League is the best league in the world. The change from La Liga is brutal, but I always said I wanted to try it and I’m glad I have.
“Wolves were a newly-promoted team, but I saw there was a lot of progression, and above all they were signing world-class players.
“There was a lot of ambition and that convinced me to come here.
“Atleti are one of the best clubs in the world, so yes, you could say it’s a shame not to have actually played for them, but my priority is always myself and my family are happy – and we are very happy.
“It’s best not to worry about what could have happened if things had turned out differently. This club put a lot of trust in me and I want to pay them back.”
Jonny Castro Otto was speaking to Sky Sports News.