Wolves snapping at heels of the elite

Wolves snapping at heels of the elite

LONDON • Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo hailed his “fast 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 on Aug 11, and with just one new signing in the side to face the Blades, 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 through Romain Saiss 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 Sheffield guessing.

“We started fast and aggressive,” said Nuno, who has just signed a new three-year deal.

“We went for the game in those moments and it made all the difference. It was a quick turnaround (between seasons) but the players were amazing the way they worked.

“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.”

Wolves 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,” he said. “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, but breaking into the top six, among the so-called Premier League elite, represents a tall order.

However, 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.

Sheffield boss Chris Wilder was not too disheartened with his side’s overall performance.

He said: “To recover from as poor a start as I can remember here was always going to be a tough ask. But we gave it a right go. I felt we just missed something.”