As many of us wait for news of our schools reopening fully, it appears that a pocket of Wolverhampton has been beavering away in the classroom all along.
With Nuno representing the most studious head teacher we’ve known for a generation and with months to prepare for our long awaited return, should we ever have doubted a spectacle like this in the days leading up to the game?
No stone is ever left unturned during a typical working week under this genius as it is, so when he’s got three months to draw up a timetable of work – with the calibre of students he’s assembled in his dressing room – then a result like this was always likely.
The ’P’ in performance owed everything to power, pace and endless preparation. To the pundits charged with marking the work, it was an ‘A’ grade submission.
It was understandable many of us would be so unsure of how we’d fare in the build-up to kick-off amid such uncertainty. What have we been able to do during lockdown and how would it stack up compared to our rivals? Would gaps close as a result? With a lack of atmosphere in grounds, might we expect more anomalies? On yesterday’s evidence and with Nuno at the helm, any gaps between our rivals might just be about to widen.
The formation made perfect sense before kick-off, with Dendoncker drafted in to midfield to ensure we could up our possession percentage; a crucial factor at times like these. It ensured we ended the first half as the better side with more chances created, compared to one good Fornels opening for West Ham near the break.
Then, as Nuno would have planned, tired legs began to show after so much inactivity of late – aided by the non-stop running of Jota. Cue Adama Traore and the hosts were put to bed, in dazzling, scintillating fashion.
In a cameo that you’d be hard pressed to think of any other player in the Premier League being able to muster he was simply unplayable; directly assisting the first for Raul with a devilish run and cross, and some fleet footed wizardry to release Doherty for Neto’s netbusting second.
With nobody inside an empty ground to make a murmur, the noise of a pin dropping could be heard when the substitution was made, if not a collective shudder from the home side.
It was the perfect away performance yielding not just three points, but one or two envious looks from Premier League classmates sat around us in the table.
In other words, textbook stuff.