Jubilant Nuno Espirito Santo praised Wolves’ ’12th man’ as he saluted a ‘massive’ achievement for reaching the Europa League group stages.
A 2-1 win on the night against Torino and a 5-3 victory on aggregate over made it 16 games unbeaten at Molineux for Nuno’s side in all competitions since January 2.
The Molineux head coach celebrated the win even more lustily than usual as he whirled his trademark three haymakers in front of the South Bank.
When he emerged for his post-match press conference, the Wolves boss was arguably as proud and passionate as we have seen him, and he was eager to praise the supporters as he looked forward to the group stages against more glamorous European clubs.
“We’ve been performing so well at home for a long time (unbeaten in 16 now at Molineux),” he said. “The fans really push us. They are the 12th man on the pitch so congratulations to them. They really push us.
“And they are going to have some big games. This is what we want. We want to play and play. We want to compete. We use games as a tool for us to grow as a team.
“The work that started two years ago in the Championship, all this work, building and building. What the boys have done is fantastic. It’s a small squad.
“But that’s why the staff were on the pitch at the end because they deserve the credit; the guys behind the scenes, they are so important for us. It’s very important for us. Massive. Massive!”
Nuno appeared to be relieved to have got to this point of the competition. He refuses to say who he wants in Friday’s draw but wants to rejoice in the moment of their achievements before admitting focus will shift immediately to the Premier League trip to Everton on Sunday.
“It’s fantastic, isn’t it? It’s been hard to get to the group stages. We’ve had the artificial pitch which was tough at Crusaders, then Pyunik – it was tough,” he said.
“I don’t know who we are going to play yet! You’re asking me who we’re going to play?! In the afternoon I have to work again – we have to watch the game and the boys have to recover, because Sunday we go again and we know where we go…(blows out as if to say Everton will be tough). Tough.
“After training we will sit down and watch the draw and that will be a pleasure for all Wolves fans. For me and the boys, in the afternoon, we’re going to start preparing for the next game. It’s always game by game, always trying. Improve in the competition – this is what we want.
“Let’s use the game as a tool for us to grow as a team.”