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Essential Highlights from Gary O’Neil’s Press Conference

The latest Gary O’Neil press conference was held today, and there’s plenty to unpack. With Wolves facing Liverpool at Anfield, Gary tackled topics ranging from VAR and Jurgen Klopp to injury updates and thoughts on the season. Here’s the lowdown on what was discussed.

Discussing VAR

Gary O’Neil was prompted about the ongoing debate over VAR in the Premier League, specifically Wolves’ stance on it. While maintaining his diplomatic approach, Gary acknowledged that the discussion itself is a positive step. He noted that not only Wolves but also the fans have been unhappy with how VAR has been handled this season.

Gary mentioned that if VAR is to stay, it must improve significantly. He highlighted issues such as automatic offsides, the speed of decisions, and clarity. He also remarked that many managers share a similar dissatisfaction with its current form.

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool

With Wolves gearing up to play Liverpool, Gary was naturally asked about Jurgen Klopp. Klopp, in his own press conference, expressed his desire to remove VAR, blaming those who implement it.

Gary reminisced about his time coaching Liverpool’s under-23s during the COVID-19 lockdown. He described Klopp as an icon due to his decade-long tenure at Liverpool, achieving remarkable success. Despite the emotional backdrop for Liverpool fans as Klopp says his goodbyes, Gary emphasised that Wolves have a job to do. A win could see them finish as high as 10th in the league.

Injury Update

In a piece of good news for Wolves fans, Gary confirmed that Pedro Neto will be available for the upcoming Liverpool match. Apart from Pablo Sarabia, who is nursing an injury, everyone else is fit for selection. This means Wolves will be fielding a strong squad, eager to put up a solid performance at Anfield.

Reflections on the Season

Gary reflected on the season, noting that if someone had told him they’d be in contention for a 10th place finish at the start of the season, he would have been thrilled. Considering the ups and downs, this is a testament to the team’s resilience and hard work.

Looking Forward to the Summer

Interestingly, Gary mentioned his recent positive discussions with Jeff regarding summer plans. He’s looking forward to a proper pre-season, though he acknowledged it might be slightly disrupted by international competitions and friendlies. He stressed that this summer will be crucial with multiple comings and goings expected, highlighting the importance of improving the squad to be better prepared for the Premier League’s challenges.

Wolves are determined to take what they’ve learned this season and use it as a foundation for improvement.

Key Points

  • Wolves have triggered a vote on the future of VAR in the Premier League, which will take place in June, and O’Neil said: “In its current state, I would be more than happy for it to be abolished. I’m stood at Molineux once every two weeks and the fans’ mood towards it is really clear, there’s a real negative energy towards what impact it’s had on the experience of watching their team.”

  • However, he added: “I do still think there’s scope to just improve it as well. If we’re going to leave it how it is, I would definitely be a fan of getting rid of it, but there is still an opportunity they can improve it and if we are going to keep it, it needs to be improved drastically.”

  • Asked if he was aware how other Premier League clubs may vote, O’Neil said: “I’ve no idea how it will go, we haven’t put any feelers out. It’s a good way to start the discussion. Let’s see how many teams still want it and how many don’t, and the ones that do, are they happy with it in its current form? It has to evolve, I’d be astounded if we started next season with it in the form it’s in at this moment.”

  • O’Neil said departing Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is an “iconic figure” at his club and is “one of the best Premier League managers ever”.

  • However, the Wolves boss continued: “As much as I want Jurgen to have a nice send-off with his fans, there is still a chance that we can finish in the top 10. If you’d said that to me at the start of the season, that we can win our last game and potentially finish in the top 10, I’d have definitely signed up for it. We go there with that as our focus.”

  • Pedro Neto has “trained well and felt good” this week and is likely to be in the squad, although fellow winger Pablo Sarabia has a minor injury and is a “slight doubt”.

  • On summer recruitment plans, O’Neil said: “I had some good conversations with Jeff [Shi, chairman] around the summer and things we might be able to do. Things have started to move a little bit and we’re trying to position ourselves, when we come back in July and the season starts in August, to be in the best place possible.”

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