Micah Richards believes Wolves winger Adama Traore’s transformation is down to having a manager who believes in him.
Traore has been a revelation this season for Wolves, with his stunning strike in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat against Tottenham taking his tally to four goals and six assists in 26 games as opposed to one and three in 36 appearances in all competitions last term.
That turnaround is down to countless hours of perseverance on the training ground from head coach Nuno Espirito Santo and his staff working with the 23-year-old winger.
They have effectively slowed him down to become more effective, with his brain and feet now able to match his electric pace.
Retired defender Richards, 31, was a team-mate of Traore’s at Aston Villa when the latter first came to England in August 2015, signed by Tim Sherwood from Barcelona for £7m.
But things didn’t work out for Traore at Villa. Sherwood was sacked and replaced by Remi Garde, the winger got injured and Villa ended up being relegated without Traore making a league start, before he was sold to Middlesbrough by Roberto Di Matteo.
“Ever since he went to Middlesbrough he did really well, and he went to Wolves and he has a manager who believes in him,” said Richards on BBC’s Match Of The Day 2.
“We’re quick to judge players nowadays – we see the fees they’re going for and say ‘he’s not worth this, he’s not worth that’.
“But he’s got a manager there who truly believes in his ability and you can see in the way he’s playing now.”
Richards joked he thought he had found the way to stop Traore when he was at Villa, only for the plan to backfire.
“It’s hard to really defend against pace but one thing I’d say is just try showing him inside,” said the former Manchester City centre back.
“I remember in training we used to let him go wide because the quality of his crossing wasn’t great.
“Then we realised day by day he was getting better and better and better, so we couldn’t show him on the outside any more because he was embarrassing everyone!
“But it’s a pleasure to see because he had a lot of injuries when he was at Villa.
“He got the fans off their seats but he got an injury at the wrong time and it hindered his development.”