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Nuno Espirito Santo vows to keep Wolves’ identity ahead of European mission

Boss Nuno Espirito Santo has vowed never to lose Wolves’ identity as they prepare to return to Europe for the first time in 39 years.

Wolves host Northern Irish side Crusaders in the Europa League second qualifying round on Thursday to continue a rapid rise under owners Fosun.

Nuno has been quick to carve a style with Wolves’ imposing pressing game earning them a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League last season.

And with Europe back on the Molineux horizon, the former Porto boss sees no reason to change.

He said: “It is the most important thing, an identity. When things don’t go so well, what are you going to grab to? Stick to it. It is like Coca-Cola, they never change the recipe.

“Diet, full sugar, no caffeine, maybe, but the recipe is always there.

“It’s been a very good two years and we are very, very proud. We feel that we did something good but it doesn’t stop.

“Of course, we know what it means to achieve European football in the Premier League.

“It means a lot, but for the club and the city it will be amazing to get this atmosphere again. But it depends on us to really make it real because the qualification is not done yet.

“We are still talking about the group stages so we look forward to it. We know there is expectation outside, anything can happen.

“But in terms of the competition, it doesn’t change because you cannot say the Europa League is easier or more difficult than the Premier League.”

Wolves reached Europe thanks to Watford’s FA Cup final defeat to Manchester City, with seventh spot earning Wolves a place due to City’s Champions League qualification.

Nuno was appointed in May 2017, winning the Sky Bet Championship a year later, and has taken Wolves back to Europe for the first time since the club faced PSV in October 1980.

The winners of their latest tie face Armenian side Pyunik or Jablonec from the Czech Republic in the third qualifying round.

And Nuno admitted – when he walked into a club which had just finished 15th in the Championship – there were never any European dreams.

“No, I didn’t know, of course. I came here on day one, just trying and I haven’t changed since then – just trying, trying, trying,” he said.

“Working and trying to improve – trying to find the best way to do it. It’s not only me.

“Look at the team. I remember the team from the beginning but in that moment I could not predict, I did not even think about it.

“You just go game-by-game. Preston, Sheffield Wednesday, all the games are so hard so you just go game by game, game by game, game by game.”