João Gomes excels in Wolves’ midfield, but Coach O’Neil wants more

Gomes, under the watchful eye of O'Neil, is not just playing football. He's learning the art of navigating the beautiful game.
Desmond Efe-Khaese
2024-02-24 10:17:18

In football, where talent often collide with expectations, Wolves’ Gary O’Neil has found a gem in João Gomes. “I love João Gomes to bits,” O’Neil confesses, not just as a coach, but with the affection of a mentor who sees the raw, uncut diamond in the rough. Gomes, after all, isn’t just any player. His recent showcase of skill, netting two goals against Tottenham, isn’t merely a performance; it’s a statement.


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O’Neil, with a blend of pride and a keen eye for development, notes, “He’s still got lots of learning to do but attribute-wise he has pretty much everything you’d want in a tenacious ball-winning midfielder.”

It’s a subtle compliment. Yes, Gomes has the heart, the raw talent. But like any craftsman with a piece of fine material, O’Neil knows the value lies in the refinement. “We’re trying to tidy up some little bits. Sometimes his passing or care on the ball can improve.”

The journey for Gomes, as O’Neil sees it, is not just about reaching the top; it’s about the path taken, the lessons learned. “Hopefully we can get him right to the top of the game, but hopefully that means he’s still with us at that point.” It’s a hopeful statement, tinged with the reality of modern football where talent often finds itself pulled in multiple directions.

“Gomes is still young”

Gomes is young, a fact O’Neil circles back to, a reminder not just to the fans but perhaps to Gomes himself. “He’s still very young and I’m sure there will be ups and downs with him.” There’s a paternal tone in O’Neil’s reflection on the need to manage expectations, to give Gomes the space to grow, to breathe, to falter, and to rise.

And in this journey, the presence of Mario, the experienced midfielder, is not just a tactical placement. It’s a deliberate act of mentorship, of passing down wisdom. “Having Mario next to him, an experienced one, has really helped him.” It’s a testament to the belief that in football, as in life, growth often comes from those who have walked the path before us.