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You know Nuno Espirito Santo: the smart coach reviving Wolves as a European force, that bearded presence on the TV in your living room, often giving a gruff, reluctant soundbite to an exasperated interviewer.

Honing an image isn't really his thing.

He is one of those in football who would tick the 'no publicity' box if it were available.

So how is it that we are an hour and 10 minutes into a conversation, feeling like we should probably leave him to his work, and he looks a little disappointed?
'Aren't there any more questions you would like to ask me?' he says plaintively. 'Maybe about the game?'

Honing an image isn't really the thing that Nuno Espirito Santo concerns himself with

Honing an image isn't really the thing that Nuno Espirito Santo concerns himself with


Well, seeing as you ask…

A detailed discussion follows as to what it means when someone says Wolves are a counter-attacking team.

'You say Wolves is a team of counter-attack,' he enthuses.

'OK, no problem! But how do we counter attack? If you want to prepare your counter attack, you have to first prepare where you are going to recover the ball, who is going to recover the ball. You are determining the moment of your counter-attack.

'But,' he continues, a genuine glint in his eye, 'you can unbalance a team without the ball!' Really?

How? 'Come on!' he exclaims. So there are limits, it seems, to this new openness. Trade secrets remain confidential.

A good half-hour into the conversation, when he actually appears to be enjoying this interrogation, the subject of his press conferences is broached.

Despite his smile the Wolves manager is often seen with a grumpy face at press conferences

Despite his smile the Wolves manager is often seen with a grumpy face at press conferences

Why is he so grumpy?

He sighs. 'Because I have something that I cannot hide!' he says. 'Now I'm feeling relaxed, I'm talking to you. But before [at Rio Ave, Porto, Valencia] I was worse. And you have to realise, us as managers, when you go to press conferences, in that moment we know if the game was good, if the game was bad, what's going to come.
And if you are frustrated, angry, it's not easy to sit down and sometimes be confronted with stupid questions that don't make sense at all!'

Given that this interviewer is responsible for http://hsprint.com/xe/index.php?mid=board_sOYk04&document_srl=299364 plenty of those stupid questions, there is nervous laughter.

'It's true!' he says defensively. 'If I'm happy I'm happy. If I'm not happy, it's difficult for me. The people who work around me, they know: when I'm not good, I'm not good. 

'I'm silent and this [he points to his face] comes like this [he mimics a hangdog expression].
I look at people sometimes and say to myself: "I think this guy is feeling that I'm really p****d off". But I am! I am!'

By now he is actually laughing.

So you know Nuno Espirito Santo. Up to a point.

He was Jose Mourinho's reserve goalkeeper at Porto; he was the first client of super agent Jorge Mendes; he was Gary Neville's predecessor at Valencia, with only marginally more success. That much you can glean from profiles. Yet he is also the street child, who played football on the sandy beaches of Principe, the African island adjacent to Gabon.

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