In the build-up to the Torino game, Wolves legend Kenny Hibbitt spoke to Italian journalist Raffaele Campo about the team, new signings, Nuno Espirito Santo, Jorge Mendes and Patrick Cutrone. Here are his answers:
During this transfer window, Wolverhampton has signed several players. What do you think of this new team?
“I say that new players were needed to reinforce the team; it was necessary for them to compete in the Europa League. Wolves have not played in Europe since 1980.”
What were your impressions on the first games?
“Now the squad is solid and Nuno is able to make rotations and let the players rest when they need to. More games are played than before and, as I said before, so it was necessary to add new players. The squad seems stronger and more complete to me. I’ve only seen the match against Leicester so far (0-0) and I had good feelings about them. They should have won, but perhaps all those trips to Europe have affected the strength of some players on the field.
What do you think about the work done by the manager Nuno?
“In such a short time he has done a magnificent job. Two years ago the owners showed great foresight to appoint him and now the results are proving them right. The goal is to compete with the great Premier League teams and play in the Champions League. I believe it is possible, as the owners have always supported the manager.”
Wolverhampton, thanks to the work of the powerful agent, was called ‘the Mendes team’. Do you agree with this?
“I do not agree. New players were needed to reinforce the team, and Mendes also helped some other clubs in the past, and then the manager has done a great job. Moreover, Nuno trusts him very much.”
One of the new players is ‘our’ Patrick Cutrone. What do you think of him? How will you play in this Nuno system?
“I saw him play for the first time a few days ago against Leicester, when he entered the field in the last 15 minutes. But he looks strong and works hard. He will take small steps for Wolves, but only time will tell whether he will succeed here or not.”
More generally, what is the reality of Wolverhampton?
“The club has great ambitions and is growing, things seem brighter than ever for the future. And even the fans are realising it: the last season every home game was attended by more than 30,000 spectators.
You are also in the club’s Hall of Fame. What does this prestigious award mean?
“It was one of the most salient moments of my career. I spent 16 years there and played over 550 games. I still have great affection for the club. Wolves went through several difficult moments in the mid-1980s, but now they are back on top and at last we see the light at the end of a long tunnel.”
Thursday’s opponent will be Turin. Did you get a grenade idea?
“I have to be honest and I tell you that even before watching their social media channels with my wife, I didn’t know them much. I remember that in the 1970s, when we went to Turin to play against Juventus, the great John Charles told us that Turin was also a good team and spoke generally about them. Mazzarri’s squad still looks good, so it will be a difficult match for both sides. Wolves played on Monday against Manchester United, a difficult game that will inevitably take away energy for Thursday night. So for Nuno it may be necessary to make changes.
Here in Italy we all say that Turin was unlucky to have met Wolverhampton. Is it the same also in England?
“Wolverhampton will have great respect for Turin, and fans are excited to face such a popular Italian team, they can’t wait.”
What kind of double challenge will it be?
“The team that has the most energy over the two legs will prevail. Obviously my heart is with Wolves.”
Above: Kenny Hibbitt (left) pictured at the launch of his autobiography ‘Seasons Of My Life’ with co-writer Tim Nash. The book is available via this website, from £20.00.