Refused To Lose

Gaffer's reaction after emotional first game

Walter Zenga thanked Wolves fans for an emotional welcome to life as the club’s Head Coach, as his players hit back from going 2-0 down, and being reduced to ten men, to take a point at Rotherham.

Early goals from Danny Ward and Will Vaulks put Wolves in early trouble, but George Saville hit back with an opportunistic effort shortly before half time.

Wolves were reduced to ten men shortly after the break when Dominic Iorfa saw red, but kept pushing forward, and were rewarded when substitute Joao Teixeira set up debutant Jon Dadi Bodvarssson for a superb strike to send the away end into raptures.

It was Wolves who looked more like winning the game in the closing stages, but Zenga was still delighted with a point, and the spirit shown by his team after such a short spell working together.

“The team showed great spirit today, they never gave up,” said the Head Coach.

“Going 2-0 behind was not the right way for us but the spirit meant we stayed in the game and this is only after five days of work.

“That is a great advert for the players – they worked very hard and showed that they can fight for something and, most important for a coach, they refused to lose.

“It is not easy to go 2-0 behind early and then go to ten men five minutes into the second half.

“I wouldn’t say I was worried but I had to make some changes and changed the system a little bit.

“You have to give the players the chance to believe and come back into the game and that is what happened.

“This was a difficult situation to go behind especially when it is the first game of the season and the coach has only been here for five days.

“But the players kept going and the substitutes Mason and Teixeira did well.

“The new players must understand what the Championship is like because it is not an easy league.

“I think you are lucky as a coach to work with players like this.

“The impact of the players was positive and they have been welcomed in even in just a short time.

“I think as a coach you learn something about your team every game, even when you have been with them for two years.

“Sometimes you win and sometimes you draw or lose but you always learn.”

The sellout Wolves away following of 2,600 welcomed Zenga warmly before the game and then again after full time, and the Head Coach admitted he was moved by such a welcome.

“I am so very excited about this, my first game in England, and the welcome I got from our fans and from Rotherham coach Alan Stubbs,” he said.

"I am a man of 56 years old, but the reaction I got from our fans today made me emotional.  I want to thank them. Amazing.

“My life has changed in the last week but I like this challenge and this change.

“And then to see all those fans come to the game from Wolverhampton.

“It has been a busy week and I am a little bit tired but it is a tired that makes you happy – not a tired because you are bored!

“This is exactly what I wished for.”

It was Bodvarsson who salvaged a point with his terrific strike, on the day he became the 1000th league player for Wolves.

“Jon played a very nice game,” added Zenga.

“He is a player who plays for the team, he doesn’t play for himself.

“And that is important.

“He wasn’t really inside the game in the first 20 minutes but then he started to become a striker who is going to be very important for us.

“Not just because he scored the goal, but because he did a great job.”

Zenga admitted he was not going to comment on the controversial dismissal of Iorfa, who looks set to miss Tuesday’s EFL Cup game against Crawley.

“I don’t want to talk about referees,” he said.

“And certainly not after my first game in England!

“As a coach I have to think only about my team and what can be done.

“I am Italian yes, but I have to keep calm!”

And for Zenga, who said Wolves are still looking to bring in more players before the closure of the transfer window, there was nothing going to damage his view of his first game in charge in English football.

“Nice stadium, full stadium, enthusiasm, the people were perfect…amazing!”