Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has hinted he is looking for more consistency from Ruben Neves.
The Portugal international made the most of a more advanced role in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Arsenal after swapping with Joao Moutinho and enjoyed arguably his best game of the season, which was also his 100th appearance for the club.
Neves had four shots on goal, forcing a save from goalkeeper Bernd Leno while two more efforts flew just over the bar and one was blocked.
Nuno believes Neves can operate further forward but wants to see him string together a run of higher quality performances, as the head coach prepared for Thursday’s return to Europa League action at home to Slovan Bratislava.
“I assess the performance and the players in the same way as I assess the team – it’s ups and downs, ups and downs,” said the head coach.
“Neves is a case of all the players in the team: Ups and downs, ups and downs. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good, but always sticking to his paths and his beliefs. That work can never go away.
“He played well. I think he can improve. If he can put it in the net, then even better. That’s why I think he can improve.
“It’s very difficult to sustain the same level of performances in all of the games.
“Our job is to recognise the ups and downs we have individually and how that affects the team, and how can we take another solution and put it together so the level of the individual is not so good but the level of the team is maintained.
“There’s more to come from everybody. I think we still have a lot of space for improvement.”
Many fans have wondered why Neves hasn’t been deployed further forward before, given his superb control and passing range and thunderous shot.
Saturday’s game was the first time Nuno has played Neves in a more attacking role.
Asked why he hasn’t played him in a more advanced before, the Portuguese said: “Different games, different approaches, different ideas, game plans and opponents, realities. The game is not always the same.”