Nuno Espirito Santo has urged Wolves to be like Manchester City and Liverpool by learning to cope with the intensity of playing in the big matches every game.
Sunday’s Premier League clash at City will be Wolves’ 17th game of the season, of which eight have come in the Europa League.
Wolves have found it tough adapting to the demands of the Premier League and European competition for the first time, winning just one of their opening seven Premier League outings.
Top teams such as City and Liverpool, who regularly qualify for the Champions League, have big squads and are used to the challenge of playing every few days all over Europe and winning.
City have reeled off four straight wins while Liverpool have a 100 per cent record in the league after eight matches and lead by eight points.
Nuno wants Wolves to be able to do the same. “They always have runs like this. It is about sustaining a level of high performance all through the season, which is very difficult,” he said.
“The big teams do it – City does it, Liverpool does it, other teams do it. This is what it’s all about – playing European competition at the same time (as the Premier League), so being involved in the same subject.”
Nuno is delighted to even be compared with the top teams at this stage of Wolves’ development.
“A comparison with these teams is fantastic for us because two seasons ago we were in the Championship,” he added.
“I’m very pleased to be able to say we go Sunday and we want to compete against City in a good way.”
Wolves have a short turnaround after Thursday’s 1-0 win away to Besiktas and Nuno believes the challenge of reproducing top performances in such a tight time frame – and against such unforgiving opposition – is hard mentally for the players.
But firstly, he stressed the need to move on quickly from the previous game is vital.
“It is tough. First of all it requires a big effort from the players. It is all about them and the (Besiktas) game is finished. We have to put it aside,” he said.
“We have two days to prepare for the next one and it is tough. And I think it is something new for a lot of the players in our squad.
“It is getting this knowing you have to go over and over again. It doesn’t give you space to celebrate, you always have to be ready. It is a good challenge.”
A young Wolves team beat an inexperienced City side to win the Asia Trophy on penalties in pre-season, while Nuno’s men were soundly beaten 3-0 on their last trip to the Etihad when Willy Boly was harshly sent off.
The Portuguese head coach is relishing the task of stopping the City juggernaut.
“It is what we want – to compete against the good teams against tough opponents,” said the boss.
“What I see is a fantastic and amazing team, a fantastic squad and a fantastic manager.
“They are the champions of the Premier League, and one of the best teams, so it will be a really good challenge for us.
“They are a fantastic team, and their idea, the way they play, the how, is very difficult to find solutions to stop it, so we will try, and we have to play also.
“We are clearly going to compete, and enjoy playing against good teams – it can only raise our standards, only can make us better.”
Wolves’ never-say-die spirit was summed up by Boly’s 93rd-minute winner in Istanbul on Thursday.
Nuno has nurtured that belief in his squad and expressed his pride at their will to succeed.
“It is about realising there’s up and downs, and we must react to be up again,” he added.
“We achieve good performances, but we must think ‘I still I have to improve and get better’ because sustaining it is always our final objective.
“To sustain our level, we know it is hard, but we will try to be obsessed on achieving that on a regular basis.
“I am very proud of the way we compete. It is all about that. The spirit of preparing to compete and always wanting to compete – no matter which opponent and which competition, being always ready and having this character of going all game knowing you are sometimes down but you still want to compete and achieve something – is very pleasing.
“I am very happy about that because we started some while ago, we’ve played 16 games so it is a lot of competition already, but we’ve always kept this same spirit of fighting for each ball.
“We are going to go again, knowing recovery time is important. All the players are recovering.
“It is important to give them some space to eat well and prepare well for the game on Sunday.”