Wolves head coach Gary O’Neil unhappy with ‘large spells’ during win at Everton

By Sports Desk August 26, 2023

Wolves head coach Gary O’Neil admitted there were large spells in Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League victory over Everton which he did not like but he was more than happy with the outcome.

The visitors scored with their only shot in target in the 87th minute when substitute Sasa Kalajdzic glanced home a header just two minutes after coming on.

By contrast Everton had 15 shots, seven on target, seven corners to Wolves’ none, but struggled to end a long-standing problem of scoring.

“I thought it was a decently-balanced performance with large spells I didn’t like,” said O’Neil, who only took over on the eve of the season after the departure of Julen Lopetegui.

“But I have to remind myself that we have not been here nine months, we have been here 15 days and there will be spells where it doesn’t quite look like what you want.”

Kalajdzic’s impact was all the more impressive as it was only the Austrian’s third appearance in a year for the club after rupturing an ACL on his debut last season.

“He has worked very hard since I’ve been here and he’s still got a long journey getting back to full fitness,” added O’Neil.

“With us arriving in good areas, I felt we could put some good crosses into the penalty area and I thought Sasa could be that guy.

“It was a really smart finish as he is facing the wrong way and it’s easy to get disorientated.”

Kalajdzic goal not only secured Wolves’ first points of the season but was their first on the road in 10 attempts and resulted in them winning three-successive league games at Goodison Park for the first time.

Both teams had begun the afternoon pointless in 18th and 19th in the table but O’Neil tried to play down the significance of the victory.

“I think winning Premier League games is big, every single one, especially on the road and especially the first one with a new group,” said the manager.

“It’s a tough place to come but it doesn’t feel big because us and Everton were both on zero, it just felt like a win the boys deserved after the work they have put in over the last 15 days.”

With Dominic Calvert-Lewin out with a cheekbone injury and deputy Neal Maupay misfiring, Everton boss Sean Dyche opted to give loan signing Arnaut Danjuma his first start up front but he also lacked the sharpness needed to end a goalless run which is already at 270 minutes this season.

Everton are struggling to find further new signings before the close of the window – their interest in Southampton striker Che Adams has yet to materialise into a concrete offer – but Dyche insisted they would continue to pursue every avenue.

“If we had loads and loads of money, we would change all sorts because things have not been right for a long time,” he said.

“I am trying to remodel a group with the players that are here and if we can add to that, we will be doing.

“All these names that get bandied, there are some that are real and some that are not.”

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