As he and Wolves prepare for the first chapter of a new era, Bruno Lage was calm, but excited, and feeling optimistic ahead the Premier League opener at Leicester City.
The second 45 minutes against Celta Vigo last weekend have become a reference for the head coach, who was impressed with his side’s performance and now wants to see those levels for the full 90. Acknowledging the good work which has gone before and outlining his desire to build on that, Lage hinted at a positive future at Molineux, which he hopes supporters can enjoy a taste of at Leicester on Saturday afternoon.
On his first Premier League game in charge
“It’s a good step in my career and that’s what I want for my life, one step at a time. I had the same situation from my first time at Benfica, in the Championship, in the Champions League, UEFA Cup and now I’m proud to be here to start the Premier League with Wolves. For me, it’s a good step, but the most important is how we’re going to play the game.”
On putting expectations on himself
“It’s why I like the fans, because I like to feel that pressure. I’m an emotional person, so need to receive emotions to pass to my players. The pressure I put on myself in my work, it’s higher than any pressure that can come from outside. The ambition is bigger.
“Tomorrow we’re going to play against a strong team, Leicester, but also we are a strong team and I think tomorrow it’s a good example to look back. Since I arrived here in 2015, to work with Carlos [Carvalhal] at Sheffield Wednesday, I can see how much these two teams have grown up. Leicester came from the Championship and won the league and Wolves have grown also from the Championship and managed to compete in the Europa League.
“Tomorrow is a good example to us, as Wolves, to see how Leicester did the next step. I’m here to do that, to do the next step. What Nuno [Espirito Santo] did with his staff was amazing and the club needs to continue to grow up. The most important thing is the people trust in our work.”
Final prep ✅ pic.twitter.com/EHeCWHEkej— Wolves (@Wolves) August 13, 2021
On implementing his ideas
“The first idea is to see the good behaviour the team has, the good things the team has. We cannot put out four years of work, we must understand the good things the team has, and day by day put our input in different moments. We don’t start the work from zero, because they have four years of work.
“What we’re going to do is continue, but in a different way. I don’t know if it’s better or worse, I think it’s different. Don’t remove four years of work but try to put our identity. Look what we did for the last 45 minutes against Celta Vigo, for sure it’s near to what we want.
“We want to be more aggressive in our defending and have more time with the ball, to manage better the ball, to try to read the game between the lines, to play one side to another, to have solutions on both sides.
“It was what we can see from the last 45 minutes against Celta Vigo. We are a pack, we go press, we go together, we go higher to press when the goalkeeper has the ball, if we need to drop we stick together, if we have the ball we play as a team, when we lose the ball, we react as a team.”
On producing entertaining football
“It’s not fair to compare the last work. I was here, I played against Wolves, and the first three years were amazing. The last year was difficult for everyone. It’s not an excuse because I suffered from the same problem, if you are watching a game, also on TV, without fans the game is not the same. It’s important to not do comparisons with this year and the past because it’s not fair.
“Our target is to play like we played the last 45 minutes against Celta Vigo. What we did in 45 minutes, we’re working hard every day in training to do that for 90 minutes every game. That’s why we need time. With time, we can play in that way and can be a strong team. When we have the ball, we have to find the goal, and when we don’t have the ball, we need to be aggressive, and the opponent need to feel we are a hard team to play against.”
On Jimenez being ready to go
“We’ve worked six weeks very well. The progression was OK, everything planned with the doctor. The first game he played 30 minutes, so he can play 90 minutes. So, very happy with him, no problems with him, he’s fit and he’s ready to go.”
On being competitive as a group
“Every player is important. The most important thing is to understand the players and every player has his own profile. Most important is how we play every game and for that we need 11 players, not just Adama [Traore], or [Francisco] Trincao, or Raul [Jimenez], or [Conor] Coady, important players, that’s the kind of players I want, top players in every position, to be a better team.”