Nuno Espírito Santo said he would celebrate Wolves earning promotion to the Premier League but the manager wants them to aim for “something special” by finishing with 104 points.
This canter past a relegation-threatened Birmingham gives Wolves 95 points with three matches remaining of their Championship campaign. Espírito Santo’s side were the classy proposition they have been throughout the season, as goals from Diogo Jota and Benik Afobe on 21 and 87 minutes sealed the victory the Portuguese demanded for the home crowd.
Wolves came into the match with a place in the Premier League guaranteed thanks to Fulham only drawing with Brentford on Saturday night. Asked to look ahead to how Wolves might fare next season in English football’s top tier, Espírito Santo said: “Now is not the moment – we would ruin everything. We have 95 points. Let’s try to achieve more, something special – 101 or 104 points. That’s the dream, now let’s try it.
“It doesn’t finish yet. We know we still have things to go for, can achieve something special. This season does not deserve any kind of bad moment.”
Wolves hit the top of the Championship in mid-November and have stayed there. The manager said: “I’m very pleased. It is a big moment – first for our fans. This is why we work. It was a special feeling. They are with us, always behind us, along with the club and city. And it is more special for the players. They have been fantastic from day one.
“We showed today that yesterday was finished [promotion being confirmed] and the boys went out [and focused]. Thank you for each and every one of the players who was with us. We achieve it together, together we are strong.”
He pointed to the faith his charges have shown since he took over last summer. “They deserve it. The players are the key, the way they start and they believe. First of all what you have to conquer is the trust of players and it’s fantastic [their belief]. The Championship is the hardest competition in the world. When I’m saying this is because it’s true; it is so competitive.”
Espírito Santo had indulged in a little celebration. “Of course, I do it with joy and I enjoy it. It was a very hard season. I drink beer in the dressing room for the first time – I must be really happy. But Wednesday we are back in work.” His side travel to Bolton next Saturday before hosting Sheffield Wednesday and making a final-day trip to Sunderland.
Wolves have been criticised over their relationship with the super-agent Jorge Mendes, with rivals concerned that this has allowed the club an unfair advantage in the transfer market. Asked about his compatriot, Espírito Santo – a Mendes client – said: “I think everybody who loves the idea of Wolverhampton deserves credit.”
Conor Coady, the captain, said there had been no problem concentrating on the game. “It’s not hard to focus when we’ve got a manager like that,” he said. “It’s huge for this club to be back in the Premier League.”
Birmingham are two points above the drop zone in 21st place and have played a game more than Barnsley, the side immediately beneath them. City’s manager, Garry Monk, was unhappy about the straight red card shown to Harlee Dean for a challenge on Hélder Costa early in the second half. “Harlee went for an attempt for the ball. The ruling is that’s a yellow card; we are definitely looking at that to be rescinded.”
Of the survival battle, Monk said: “We’re fighting. Everyone is.”