O’Neil | 'Everybody seems to be in a good spot'

Gary O’Neil says it’s important Wolves keep it tight at the back and not give any sloppy goals away, as they look to get their home form back on track this weekend.

The Old Gold have lost their last two on home soil, having previously gone nine unbeaten at Molineux, and as Sheffield United visit the West Midlands, O’Neil wants his side to be solid. If the game is kept at 0-0, the head coach backs his side to find a way to beat different styles of play, after finding their feet away from home recently.

On the sad passing of Paul Bradshaw

“It’s really sad. He made over 200 appearances for the club, so this weekend there’ll be a minute’s applause to remember the good times and how much he did for the football club. So, really sad for everybody, my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this moment. I hope they’re doing as well as is possible in a tough situation.”

On the squad’s current state

“We’re OK. Obviously, Matheus Cunha’s still not available, but the rest are as we were against Tottenham. Another good week’s training, good preparations. There’s still a couple of days to go, but everybody seems to be in a good spot. We’ve got to the stage of season where a few of them are starting to creak a little bit, a few little niggles here and there, and things you need to manage, but in terms of being ready and available for the weekend, everyone’s fine at this moment.

“There’s no real timeline [on Cunha]. He’s impressing and surprising some of the physios at the moment with the work he’s able to do. The scan showed some damage to the muscle, but he’s well ahead of where the scans would suggest he should be. It doesn’t mean it’s going to continue in that way, but it means he’s in a good place at the minute. It’s still fairly early, so no real timeline, but hopeful that he keeps pushing and progressing the way he has over the last ten days.”

On facing a different style of play

“It’ll be a different game, a very different encounter [to Spurs]. Sheff United will set up differently to what Spurs did and it will be a different test, but it’s probably similar to a couple of other ones we’ve come up against recently, and still haven’t found the perfect way to go about those. The lads’ understanding is improving.

“As Wolves, you don’t get loads of chances at playing teams who will let you have the ball. I’m not saying Sheffield United will do this, but they’ve been a back five for an awful lot of the season, so you would expect us to have more of the ball. We’ve been trying to work this week on ways to make sure we’re better, and still carry a threat, because I wouldn’t expect there to be the same amount of space on transition. The game will feel slower, which has sometimes frustrated the fans at home, but that is the way the game may feel and we need to embrace and find a way we come out on top.”

On the importance of a clean sheet

“The importance of being really solid in situations around our goal is huge. The lift we gave Brentford, giving them the lead, it was tough enough at 0-0, but pushing at 0-0 and trying to find a way to get in front is a much better feeling than giving them a soft goal and having to fight your way back.

“The Burnley game was similar, as tough as it was, and as tough as they were to break down, we didn’t give them anything silly. We managed to stay in control, keep pushing and when we found our moment, it was enough to win it for us. Making sure we’re trying to be really solid, well-drilled around our goal, not giving them something soft, and using the attacking talent that we have to try and create as many chances as possible.”

On turning the home form around

“Fine margins in the Manchester United game. We had a right go and I think everyone enjoyed the encounter, but we came out just on the wrong side of it. The Brentford game, obviously disappointed with what we were able to produce, but obviously the lads are very clear on the reasons why. Ready to go again, we don’t want to lose at home, but if we keep going the way we’re going points wise, whether they come home or away, I’m not too fussed, as long as we keep picking up points and pushing forward, trying to give the best we can in every game. It’s a really busy week coming up with three really tough tests.”

On getting even more from Gomes

“He has the ability to score goals, as all our midfielders do. One’s from a set play and one’s from a counter attack, not where he’s arrived as a midfield with us playing through the shape, but he has enough quality to score goals. He has a good understanding of when to time his goals, as Mario has done a few times. Joao’s working really hard on improving bits he knows he needs to tidy up on. We need as many goal threats as possible, especially with what the game might look like, as we’re trying to press and break them down, and the midfielders can play a part in that as well.”