An unexpected gift on Valentine’s Day is always an occurrence to swell the heart, particularly when it means so much to the love of your life.
To see Nuno embracing his coaching staff so affectionately on a cold, frigid south coast tells us that these three points were more precious than all the red roses in Sainsbury’s.
If anyone was in need of a loving present then it was Nuno, who benefitted from a questionable Bertrand handball gift to get us back in the game and another welcome one when Dendoncker appeared to handle shortly afterwards from way further out. But if it filled our leader’s heart with joy after the week he’s had, then we can be forgiven for not caring.
Following the midweek no-show against the same opponents, this win is of giant teddy bear proportions for the gaffer, who will cling to it with similar levels of tenderness for a longer time to come.
And while typically poker-faced in the post-match interview, Nuno would surely have been equally lifted by the second-half performance, which categorically proved that his players are still fighting and scrapping for the cause. It was as attractive on the eye as it was unexpected, with the first 45 minutes more akin to an apologetic bunch of wilting carnations from the 24-hour garage.
Against a side who had lost five on the spin before today, it looked like our effort levels were down at least 5% on our opponents; offering zero intent when in possession and a similar lack of endeavour without it – as typified by Semedo and Traore in the build-up before Danny Ings’ stunning volley.
“It is boring watching Wolves,” bemoaned Karen Carney at half time. Alan Shearer was pulling what little hair was beneath his flat cap too, for a lack of inclination to even participate, it seemed.
Nuno stared at the St Mary’s pitch in much the same way a jilted lover looks at the dinner table when the tea’s going cold as her old man loiters down the pub, and if he wasn’t similarly enraged in the changing room then I’d be amazed.
Ruben Neves typified this in a shocking first half, but pulled the strings majestically in the second, playing in Neto brilliantly for the winner after a slaloming Traore run, before the little magician cast his spell.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game and proof, were it needed, that the course of true love never did run smooth.