Wolverhampton Wanderers produced a jaded performance in going down 2-0 to Championship side Bristol City at Ashton Gate, but manager Mick McCarthy refused to blame the squad’s recent hectic schedule.
Wolves have been back in the country for a week after their pre-season tour of Australia and, playing their fifth friendly game, appeared way off the pace compared to Gary Johnson’s side.
Two high-quality first-half goals from Nicky Maynard and Danny Haynes were enough to give the Robins the victory, but McCarthy offered no excuses.
“I thought Bristol played really well,” he said.
“I thought we got to grips with it and then conceded a really poor goal. We had possession but then it ends up in the back of our net. The second was a fabulous strike and we are chasing the game.
“It kind of gets distorted, but it was nothing to do with the travelling to Australia.”
With three weeks still to go until the opening fixture of the Premier League campaign, there is certainly no need to panic, but McCarthy knows his side have plenty more work to do before they face West Ham United.
“It is a reality check for all of us, that’s for sure,” he said. “I keep saying we are not a Premier League team. We are team that has earned the right to play in the Premiership, and there is a big difference.
“We are getting there. It may not have looked like it today, but we have played Tuesday and Wednesday, now played Saturday, and over the course of that period all the individuals are doing alright. Hopefully, they will be flying when I put the team together at the start of the season.”
There were some plus points from the outing as new Serbian midfielder Nenad Milijas looked accomplished and the most likely to score for the visitors, and McCarthy said he was delighted with how his new arrival had settled in.
“Nenad is an excellent player,” he said. “Despite an indifferent performance from us, he stood out as a very good player. I don’t know how many attempts on goal he had, but I am very pleased with him.”
However, two players still struggling for fitness are winger Michael Kightly and trialist Bobo Balde, who endured a torrid first 45 minutes.
McCarthy admitted both players are not firing on all cylinders yet but promised, in Balde’s case, that the Guinea international would be given plenty of time to earn a permanent deal.