Nuno Espirito Santo has a clear message for his players as they head in to what is often described as the business end of the season: Work hard first and foremost before we get carried away with potential success.
Wolves are entering an exciting period in the cub’s season with an upcoming FA Cup semi-final against Watford on the horizon and a run of Premier League matches that will allow them to assess their season come the final analysis.
And although he acknowledges that ambition is the key to success, he is also acutely aware that without hard graft in the first instance, the sweet victories so sought after may not arrive.
Wolves, who are seventh in the top-flight table, go to Burnley on Saturday and then host Manchester United at Molineux on Tuesday. Speaking to the club’s official website, the Portuguese manager said: “The best way to be ambitious is to work hard every day. Dreaming doesn’t give you things – hard work gives you things. We have to realise the history of the club is important; it’s massive, but it was in the 50s, the 60s, the 70s – it was a long time ago.
“Our ambition is that we’re able to compete the best way that we can every game to make our fans proud. If we can achieve things, that will be in the future; it’s in the present where you put the focus on your tasks. My job is to prepare for the next session. My ambition is to prepare well for the next game. This is how I think.
“I want to be ready to play the next game the best way that I can. Have the team well-prepared, have the players focused, and ready to compete and fight, like we do every game. This is my job and ambition.”
Wolves have won many friends this season thanks to their desire and style of play and yet the coach says studying the league standings isn’t the way he monitors his side’s progress. He added: “It’s a big challenge for us as a team, to be inside such a competitive Premier League. So much quality in the players, so much quality in the managers, so many strong teams. It’s a privilege, at the same time a big challenge for us.
“But I don’t look at the table. Our view is simple, we want to compete, we know that we have to play against all the teams and what we want to do is prepare ourselves well for the competition. I don’t see a difference between Wolves and the rest of the league, for us it’s the same. They’re very good teams, tough opponents, we know what we have to do, we’ll try our best and we want to compete game-by-game.”
Meanwhile, Wolves are reported to have sent scouts to watch Benfica ace Joao Felix, 19, who is also said to be wanted by Manchester United and Arsenal. However, one advantage that Espirito Santo has over the other suitors is that he is also Portuguese and has a proved track record of bringing his fellow countryman into the Premier League and allowing them to flourish.