Santo sure players won’t be distracted by Europa League against ‘very good’ Canaries

PUBLISHED: 15:07 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:21 21 February 2020

Diogo Jota celebrates the first of his three goals for Wolves during Thursday's victory over Espanyol in the Europa League Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Diogo Jota celebrates the first of his three goals for Wolves during Thursday's victory over Espanyol in the Europa League Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

PA Wire

Wolves have won just one of their last seven Premier League games but that is not worrying manager Nuno Espirito Santo ahead of his team’s clash with Norwich City.

Santo's side go into Sunday's game against the Premier League's bottom team buoyed by a 4-0 home win over Spanish side Espanyol in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday.

Prior to that victory were 0-0 draws with Leicester and Manchester United, following a narrow 2-1 home loss to runaway leaders Liverpool - although Espanyol are bottom of the Spanish top flight.

"Our reference is today, we have to improve from today," the Wolves boss said after the win. "What you say is a good run or a bad run doesn't mean anything, that's living by momentum.

"We don't live by momentum, we live by competition and momentum doesn't mean you are going to play well. It's the same if you have bad momentum, or a run as you say, that doesn't mean it cannot change.

"So take that apart and focus on the game. Sunday's game is very tough because Norwich is a very, very good team, with very good players, quality players that play a game of possession and create many problems.

"This is why we focus and try to complete well."

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo savoured Thursday's win over Espanyol Picture: Martin Rickett/PA WireWolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo savoured Thursday's win over Espanyol Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

The game against Espanyol was a 43rd of the season, due to the Europa League campaign - 14 more than City have played in all competitions, whose last game was a 1-0 loss to Liverpool last Saturday.

"It's always a challenge, when you are competing since July, on this kind of schedule, always tight," Santo added.

"But we have good routines and we have one thing, that is the character of the players, they really respect themselves and for sure they are going to be ready for Sunday."

Star winger Adama Traore was taken off after an hour at 2-0 up but not with the game against the Canaries in mind, Santo insisted.

"In that moment we felt the game needed new solutions and new solutions come either with changing positions of the players or changing the players, and it was based on this," he explained.

"Every time you try to change you expect this energy from who comes from the bench and the team improved so it was good for us.

"We have to focus on the moments, that the game needed a solution and a player with different characteristics. We didn't think about the game on Sunday, we start thinking about Norwich now."

City have won just one of their last 13 league games and are seven points from safety with 12 games remaining but the Wolves boss is confident his team will not underestimate the visitors.

"Never. That would be a mistake, that we can't afford to have," the Portuguese coach continued, when asked if Thursday's second leg at Espanyol could potentially be a distraction for the Wolves players, with a Europa League quarter-final within touching distance.

"Our philosophy is not based on words, it's based on routines, actions, on a daily basis.

"Now Norwich is the most difficult opponent that we have, because it's the next one, everybody knows it's like that."

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