Nuno Espirito Santo insists Wolves are not competing for a place in the top six next season.
Internally, the club have set a target to match last season’s seventh-place finish, or ideally, better it. Wolves surprised many people last season by achieving the highest finish by a promoted club since Ipswich in 2000-01, but head coach Nuno has already acknowledged their task will be harder this time around, with the added pressure of competing in the Europa League, as well as the potential dangers of ‘second season syndrome’.
“We are not fighting for the top six,” Nuno told a press conference in Shanghai as Wolves prepare for their first game in the Premier League Asia Trophy against Newcastle on Wednesday. “We never fight for any position in the table. We only fight in each game.
“We have to add players to compete against the top six but it is not in our heads to compete for the top six. We compete game by game. We can only repeat what happened last season if we work harder, and dedicate more. We are conscious it has to be like that.
“The players know each season is going to be more difficult but I really believe we can improve the quality of our game. It’s not on our horizon to compete for the top six, we can only try to play good football, football our fans enjoy.
“We are not worrying about what the outside expectations of us are, honestly – we are not thinking about that at all. I am not sitting here thinking we are going to finish in the top six or the top 10 next season. We are not playing for a specific place in the table. That is not how we work. We take it day to day. We have been in this process for the last two years.”
Nuno claims it has been harder to recruit players this summer because of the different international competitions going on. The Nations League finals, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Copa America have been held since the end of the domestic season.
“We have to realise this season is different, there’s a lot of international competitions,” he said. “It was a lot of football and a lot of players involved in the competitions. In my view it delays everything and after that the prices go high because we are close to the other European markets.
“It’s hard, especially for us because we want quality over quantity. I hope we realise that and just go strong in the market, bringing the players we want to bring, but this season is different to all the seasons. The market is a bit out of normal.”
After facing Newcastle in their first pre-season game, Wolves play either Manchester City or West Ham on Saturday before flying home. Their first Europa League game is a week on Thursday (July 25) when they play the winners of Northern Irish side Crusaders and Faroe Islanders B36 Torshavn.
Nuno says he is hoping the squad can avoid jetlag. “We are aware we’re going to arrive (home) on the 21st, but we have a lot of people involved trying to avoid jetlag,” he said. “It’s worse when we come, it’s not as bad when we return. Hopefully it will not be an issue for us, we have three or four days.”