Nuno Espirito Santo admits Wolves have got ‘a lot wrong’ in their last two games – and those mistakes cannot be repeated.
But the head coach also stressed they are at the start of a journey and are focused on putting things right against Sporting Club Braga on Thursday night.
Wolves go into their first Europa League group stage game at home to Braga on the back of successive Premier League defeats and eight goals conceded. Defensive errors have been at fault for many of those goals against, while two changes to the back three for Saturday’s 5-2 defeat to Chelsea didn’t help matters.
“Are there things that we must improve on for tomorrow? A lot of things,” said head coach Nuno. “A lot of things that we have to know. We must improve on our defensive organisation, we must improve on our shape, knowing we made mistakes that we cannot repeat and compete, and maintain your focus no matter what happens. We must stay on the game, no matter if we score, or don’t score – stay on the game.”
Wolves have won all six games in Europe so far this season to reach what will be the club’s first entry into a group stage of a European competition (their run to the final of this competition under its guise of the UEFA Cup was all on a home-away, two-legged basis). Nuno insists everyone associated with the club should be proud of their achievements, but at the same time want more.
“I think not only me but everybody should be proud – the fans, the club, the staff, the players – they have all contributed to what we will experience,” he said. “We are in the Europa League group stages but what’s more important is to compete. We want to keep on growing and improving and it’s not the final step. We still have a long way to go to climb so we look forward to every game in front of us.”
Nuno changed two of his back three at the weekend, which saw Jesus Vallejo make his Premier League debut and Romain Saiss drop into the defence at the expense of Ryan Bennett and the suspended Willy Boly, who is available for the Braga game.
But the Molineux chief denies the changes disrupted or affected the team, stressing all the players knew there would be more rotation before the season started and had been warned to be ready to play at any opportunity.
“No. This is how we have to do things,” said the boss. “The more important thing is we have a plan, we have a strategy, we work and the players understand it.
“From day one, they knew this season was a new challenge ahead of us and we had to play qualifiers, play-offs, and compete against very strong teams in the Premier League.
“The future is what is ahead of us – Thursday, Sunday, Thursday, Sunday. So we are prepared for it. We have all the squad ready to go, so play the game.”
Nuno was again asked about the surprising absence of Bennett from the squad for the Chelsea game, and again suggested it was just a straight choice between the former Norwich man and Vallejo while swerving any explanation.
“You want me to explain again? Profile is which side of the pitch a player plays,” he said. “We play a back three and we have options for the right side and the left side and these are built with complicities over many hours of games, many hours of training sessions playing together.
“Players on each side play together, so when you have to decide, you decide based on these complicities and all these aspects. For this game, we have the option on the right side of Vallejo and Bennett maybe Boly, and for the left side, Saiss, Max (Kilman) and Boly. The three are ready to go.”
One player who is certain of his place is captain Conor Coady, who has played every minute of the last 76 games in all competitions. “Coady is OK. Coady is going to play – he always plays,” said Nuno.