Milijas makes his presence felt

Nenad Milijas

Nenad Milijas often cut a forlorn figure in the gold jersey of Wolves last season.

The Serbia international rarely showed the ability that saw the newly-promoted side fork out a seven-figure sum to secure his transfer from Red Star Belgrade in the summer of 2009.

Milijas, however, looks to have finally settled at the midlands club, becoming one of the standout players in Mick McCarthy’s side this campaign.

Having ended a run of four straight league defeats with a 3-2 win over Sunderland at the end of last month, Wolves proved old habits die hard by losing 3-0 at Blackburn the following weekend.

While the scorline does not reflect the patches of dominance enjoyed by Wanderers, Milijas insists the result was far from good enough as the club aim to get out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

And the Serbian midfielder wants results rather than the quality of football to be the club’s priority.

“It’s all right when everyone says ‘you played well and lost, you were so unlucky’,” said Milijas, who also featured heavily in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Birmingham.

“I hope we will have a terrible performance, play badly and win – so we get lucky!

“I want someone to say ‘you were lucky today, you didn’t play well and you won’.

“I hope we can go on a winning run now – we need nine points to really get back in the pack with the other teams.”

It is a far cry from the spell Wolves enjoyed last season, where a successful return to the top flight ended with a comfortable 15th-placed finish.

Now, however, Wolves are struggling to haul themselves out of the relegation zone, despite the individual success of the resurgent Milijas.

Born in Belgrade back in 1983, Milijas came through the ranks at hometown club FK Zemun and established himself as a key player at the club for the best part of half a decade.

Impressive performances for the Zemunci attracted attention from the country’s biggest club, Red Star Belgrade, who plumped for a move in 2006.

Milijas plied his trade at Zvezda for three years, winning Serbian league and cup doubles in successive seasons as well as making his international debut.

Ever since the midfielder earned his first international cap against the Faroe Islands in September 2008, he established himself as an integral part of a team that boasts the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Dejan Stankovic and Branislav Ivanovic.

Such form for club and country saw Milijas move to Wolves where he is now flourishing, which he says is thanks to a post-World Cup dressing down from McCarthy.

“The gaffer told me ‘you’re one of my best players, I came to watch you at Red Star and I know the player I bought, so you must be fitter and train harder if you want to stay here’,” he said.

“He said ‘if you’re like you are at the moment, you can’t play here – you will change clubs’.

“But he also said ‘I know you can play, I want you in my team, but it’s up to you – you’ve got to train hard, and if you do, you will get a chance.’

“He helped me so much because he was honest with me and he told me straight that I had a lot to make up after coming back from the World Cup late.

“I realised I needed to train more so I could play better,” he continued. “I took what he said very seriously and I’ve been training hard.

“Now it’s paid off – I feel good and I’m really happy with my performances.”

And the Serb playmaker believes he and his team-mates have now come to terms with the pressure that rides on every game in the top flight.

“Pressure is something that comes with football every week and we must learn to play with that pressure because in the Premier League, every game is a pressure occasion,” he said.

“That said, I think we can play like we did against Sunderland every week.”

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