This Sunday’s clash presents a slightly strange task for Pep Guardiola and his group of players. It’s the visit of Wolves to the Etihad Stadium; a side struggling with their start to the domestic campaign, but still a side with a very strong contingent of players that will certainly cause our defence a few problems on Sunday. Nuno Santo’s men travel to the Champions on the back of a dramatic victory in Turkey in the Europa League, but with limited time for rest, will this lead to a significantly hindered performance.
Many thanks for joining us ahead of Sunday’s game Dave! First of all, how do you see Wolves overcoming this difficult start to the 2019/20 campaign?
It has been a tough start for Wolves but I think it’s taken us a while to adjust to two to three games per week. With a small squad, it was always going to be difficult to hit the ground running quickly. A change of formation has helped our fortunes a bit over the last couple of weeks, but I think we should be okay in the long run.
How much would you blame involvement in European competition on this difficult start to domestic competition?
I always hated to blame the Europa League on the difficult start, but it became clear quickly that after a few weeks we just looked tired. Performances were slow and sluggish, and didn’t have enough energy. It’s definitely had an impact on us and as a fan, I’m looking forward to every little break we can get just so the players can freshen up a bit!
What takes priority for Wolves fans this season – European success or a further push for a higher placed finish in the Premier League?
Fortunately I think most fans realise we’d have to sacrifice the league for some decent European performances. I always say to myself ‘what if I never see us in Europe again’ so I’d love us to get as far as we can. Of course, there are still in small minority who expect a top seven finish and a run in Europe but I think for a squad of our size we need to prioritise one or the other. I believe the fans would much rather have a good Europa run though.
Despite the dramatic victory in Turkey in mid-week, how much of an effect will the limited recovery time have on your performance on Saturday?
It’ll be interesting to see how we play on Sunday afternoon, and what intensity we play at. This is our first away European group stage game and jumping straight into an away game versus the reigning Premier League champions is never going to be easy. The players are convinced they will be 100% for it and I think we can afford to go for it a bit more with an international break straight after.
How would you assess Wolves’ transfer business over the summer?
Most fans will be disappointed with the amount of business the club did over the summer. We made a few loan deals permanent such as Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker, then signed AC Milan striker Patrick Cutrone – which I think everyone was delighted with. However, we didn’t bulk out the squad enough and didn’t recruit in some areas. It wasn’t dreadful, but it wasn’t a good window either.
How do you see the weekend’s game panning out?
I think Wolves will sit extremely deep and just wait for that one moment to pounce. It will be similar to how we played against Manchester City in the Premier League Asia trophy in pre-season – we rode our luck a little bit with Raheem Sterling missing a penalty but had our own chances to score. It won’t be pretty for Wolves fans but it could be frustrating for City too.
Wolves Predicted starting XI and score prediction?
I think we may switch back to our 5-3-2 this weekend – Patricio; Doherty, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Jonny; Neves, Dendoncker, Moutinho; Cutrone, Jimenez. However Adama Traore has a shout and may influence the formation with his pace as a right winger. Score prediction, I hate to say it but a 3-1 victory for Manchester City.