Wolves’ marathon men target trophy as Nuno pleads for longer break
It is a campaign which began last year on July 25, and 57 matches later Wolves are returning to their Europa League journey.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s marathon men will restart their European quest tonight with the second leg against Olympiacos, 378 days after their season started in the competition’s qualifiers. Wolves will have been playing for nearly 13 months if they reach August’s final in Cologne,
and Nuno has insisted the Premier League must give his players an extended break.
With the new domestic season scheduled to start on Sept 12, the Premier League has agreed to allow clubs who reach the Europa League quarter-final the first weekend off, but Nuno (right) claims the lack of preparation time is still too short.
When asked by The Daily Telegraph if he fears his players will not have adequate time off before the start of next season, he said: “Yes, they will not get a proper break. We cannot stop and start, we must continue and that’s why we have to adjust the way we approach it.
“I’m hopeful the Premier League will look at that and allow the teams involved a little bit more time, mainly because of the players.
“There will be problems because there won’t be a proper recovery. The players won’t be able to disconnect properly due to what has happened before.”
Frank Lampard, the Chelsea head coach, was critical of the start date after their FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal last weekend, but Nuno’s team will have an even shorter window if they reach next week’s quarter-finals.
The Wolves head coach has admitted that his preparations for next season are already suffering due to the restrictions on flights out of the country, with a large Portuguese contingent in his squad. Nuno has not seen his own family in Portugal for nearly three months as he is forbidden to fly home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s been very hard,” he said. “We tried after the Chelsea game to give them some days off, but the situation has changed, tourist corridors between our countries are not open, so we have to sacrifice those days. But we sacrifice for a good reason because we couldn’t risk going and when we return not being able to be involved. This is why everybody has been truly committed. We stayed here, prepared ourselves and it’s tough, but as professionals our families understand it. We started before everybody and hopefully we are going to finish after everybody.”
Wolves are one of the favourites to win the competition and their second meeting with Olympiacos, at Molineux, is delicately poised, with the first leg in Piraeus ending in a 1-1 draw. Pedro Neto’s away goal could prove crucial.
Winning the final would earn Wolves a place in the Champions League and Leander Dendoncker, their midfielder, said: “We always thought we could go far in this competition. Everything is possible and we have to be confident about ourselves. We are all determined to get to Germany next week.”
(probable, 3-4-1-2): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho; Jonny; Jimenez, Jota.