Nuno Espírito Santo: Why Wolves don't fine players
Written by Simon Austin — March 8, 2020
WOLVES manager Nuno Espírito Santo has explained why he doesn't hand out fines to players, preferring instead to let them take responsibility for their own actions.
“We don’t use fines here, it doesn’t make sense," he told The Sunday Times. "Money, for a football player, is not an issue.
"You have a big star. He comes five minutes late and I say, ‘OK, I’m going to fine you £5,000’ and he goes, ‘Tomorrow I come 10 [minutes late]. The day after I come 15. Are you going to fine me?’
“I remember we did it: we didn’t start the session before the player came. And when the player comes he feels so bad. He was expecting everybody running already so he’s, ‘Sorry, gaffer…’
"No, no. We just wait.
“So everybody was waiting, fucking freezing, waiting, waiting. When the guy comes, nobody claps. ‘OK, are you ready? We start now you’re here.’ It works. No argue, no conflict.”
Nuno also explained why he limits his first-team squad to 18, despite the fact that Wolves started their season in the Europa League in July, meaning players like Joao Moutinho have played more than 40 games.
“When you look at the statistics of players being used in different teams, no matter which countries, you see the highest percentage is around 14 or 15 [players] with a high percentage of minutes played]," he said. "You can work with a squad of 25 or 18. The percentage is the same.
“What’s that telling you? Let’s make a strong investment of time in preventing injuries. At the same time you don’t have to worry so much about competition because all the players are involved. You have nobody switched off.
“If you leave three or four players behind, these three or four are not in the same dynamic as the others. So there is a clash, even between best friends. All these things happened all my career — the training sessions of the players that are not involved are the worst ones."
During his own playing career, as a goalkeeper, Nuno was back-up to the likes of Vitor Baía and Helton and says players who are not involved in matches can be "dangerous" during training sessions.
"I think 50% of my career I was on the bench, sometimes even not on the bench," he said. “There’s a clash [between players who are and are not playing].Maybe that helped me create that spirit of no conflict, everybody the same.
“It’s different generations also. My players now are more demanding of trying to understand the why, and I focus on explaining my decisions. Before, it was enough — a shit conversation and a hand on the head, a clap on the shoulder.
"It’s not that we were dumb, my generation. We just didn’t spend so much time involved in and around the game.”
While a lot of focus in modern football is on the transition - both from defence to attack and attack to defence - the Portuguese manager said his focus is on the moment before the transition.
“There is possession, transition, recovery of the ball, defend," said the manager, who speaks five languages, including Russian. "The secret, it’s the gap between - it’s not the transition, but before.
“You say Wolves is a team of counter-attack. OK, no problem. But how do we counter-attack? Traditionally you are defending, you recover the ball, you counterattack. But you can prepare where you recover the ball, who is going to recover the ball.
“You are determining the moment of your counter-attack. You can unbalance a team without the ball. I work a lot on that process. Jurgen Klopp is amazing, but Klopp is different. Klopp is counter-pressure. You recover, you lose it, then you go. He works for the moment he loses the ball.”