SHEFFIELD (REUTERS) – Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo hailed his “brave and aggressive” side, who showed no weariness as they blew Sheffield United away with goals in the first six minutes to claim a 2-0 Premier League win at Bramall Lane on Monday.
Wolves’ incredible 59-game season, which took in 10 countries on their Europa League adventure, finished only 34 days ago, and with just one new signing in the side to face United, Nuno was asking a great deal of the same faces.
But after a fine, flowing move Wolves scored through Raul Jimenez in the third minute – their quickest Premier League goal since February 2011 – and just 205 seconds later, they added another goal as they started the season in style.
Jimenez, who played in 55 of last season’s games, never stopped running, with Nuno’s innovative formation bearing fruit.
Dynamic winger Adama Traore was deployed at wing-back, while the midfield regularly changed shape to keep United guessing.
“This is the first match that we have, we still have much to improve,” Nuno said. “We have an idea for the team and we have an idea for the match and we are always about growing as a team, with the same philosophy, staying humble and being brave.
“It is our (coaching staff’s) job to try to create solutions. It is the result of different players in different positions. The idea is to give them freedom on the pitch. We are just getting started.”
He signed a new three-year deal with the club this week, and captain Conor Coady is pleased the man who steered Wolves from the Championship to the top seven in the Premier League last term is staying to see his project through.
“It is massive for us,” Coady told Sky Sports. “When you see how he works with us in and around the training ground, he is a fantastic manager.”
Top-seven finishes in the last two seasons have set the bar very high for Wolves, and breaking into the top six, ahead of the so-called Premier League elite, represents a tall order.
But Wolves flourished last season even with their Europa League campaign dragging them to all corners of Europe.
Now, without European football to contend with, their small, close-knit squad will benefit from extra rest time and can set their Premier League sights even higher this time around.