Gary O’Neil sends warning to Wolves players

Gary O’Neil believes new guidelines from officials is resulting in more bookings as he warns his Wolves players against avoidable suspensions.

Both Mario Lemina and Nelson Semedo will miss the next Premier League game against Bournemouth due to bans, with Lemina only one yellow card away from a one-game suspension and Joao Gomes two bookings away from his own.

More yellow cards have been issued as a result of referees cracking down on time wasting and kicking the ball away, among other infractions, and O’Neil is working with his team to minimize unnecessary cautions.

“It depends what they’re for and each booking is different – there’s some I’m disappointed with and we speak about, and there are some that are unavoidable in the modern game and how easy it is to get booked now for certain things,” O’Neil said in a statement.

“Because of this year’s adaptation to new rules and guidelines, things Mario has been getting away with for the past ten years have been instantly stamped out.” He’s doing his best to adjust.

“I’m not surprised and would guess that yellow card numbers are probably up across the league.” Do I want to see Mario, Nelson, and Joao suspended? Obviously not.

“I’m trying to limit the ones we can, and they know it.” The boys are well aware of the new rules, and we’re doing our best to adapt to them as swiftly as possible.

“But we do want to be competitive and I don’t want to stop Mario from fighting for every ball.”

Lemina received a yellow card against Manchester City for kicking the ball away unnecessarily.


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“Those can be avoided,” O’Neil continued.

“Some of them will have been fine for the last ten years, but now it’s an instant yellow card.”

“I’m trying to make sure we’re controlling our emotions, which can be difficult but is important, because we want everyone available.”

Lemina’s first yellow against Villa already put him on five bookings and would have seen him suspended for the Bournemouth game, before he picked up his second of the game and was given his marching orders.

He will now miss the Bournemouth clash and return on four yellow cards, with just one more needed for him to miss another game.

“It’s disappointing,” remarked O’Neil. I don’t remember the Nelson one, but in Mario’s second one, he’s in a tight place.

“We went pressing when we shouldn’t have, and Mario was caught on the wrong side and now has to decide whether to let Villa continue a dangerous attack or to foul.”

“Being on a yellow card, maybe the better decision would be to let them attack and Mario understands that but we’re disappointed because Nelson and Mario have been very good for us at the start of the season so we’re disappointed to miss them both at Bournemouth.”

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