Speaking ahead of Sunday’s trip to Southampton, Bruno Lage was typically relaxed, covering Raul Jimenez’s form, the Saints’ tactics and his selection process.
It’s been a mixed week for Wolves, who were disappointed with last weekend’s reverse to Brentford, but will have gained confidence from fighting back against Tottenham Hotspur in the week, despite the shootout drama. Now attention turns to St Mary’s and Lage has been pleased with what he’s seen in training in the build-up, so is expecting a good performance from his players once kick-off arrives.
On attention on Southampton
“It’s a big game because the way they are playing, they did well. They are very solid and compact and when they press, they press higher, everyone helps together, short spaces to play, and in this way they did very well. They did very well against Newcastle, they did very well against Man City with the way they press and the way they play.
“If you look at those games, they are very solid, so when they attack, they go in an offensive way and have players beating the lines, so the back four, two midfielders and sometimes six players breaking lines. They come as a team to press high, so I think it’s going to be a good game, because we play well with the ball and are solid when defending.”
On a goal for Raul changing things
“Every day he’s working hard in the training to try and score goals. He knows he has that pressure on his shoulders, but for now the analysis I did with him, the way he’s creating chances, he needs to continue to work.
“He knows he needs to score goals, our fans are waiting for him to score goals, he scored goals in pre-season, and they are coming. We scored two in the last game and the pressure is not just on him, the pressure is for all the players in the team to play the way we are playing.”
On mixing up tactics
“I don’t agree with people saying when you play like this you are more likely to win. It all depends on who you are playing. There is a history for every game. Against Tottenham, the space is like this and against Southampton, the space will be different, and we need to see where the space is every time, because every system and every way to play gives different space. That’s why we need to create a plan to find the space to create difficulties for our opponent.”
On managing the emotional side of the game
“We can link that to the last game against Brentford. So, when you let it go to the emotional side, that’s when you’re losing your control, so for me, for the players, the only thing we can control is the way we work and prepare ourselves for the game. We cannot go for the emotional things.
“The most important thing is to bring points for us and we believe the best way to bring points for us is to play well, create chances, score goals. Not just play well, play in an offensive way, to dominate everything, when you have the ball and when you don’t have the ball.
“The emotional part should be something you can control naturally – focus on your job, you task. Everyone knows their job and they need to follow our plan, so when you feel you’re going to the emotional side, we are here from outside to give confidence to them.”
On places being up for grabs
“What I want is competition, so every time is an opportunity to give me something. They are doing the things they’re doing in the games, things in training, players are coming back, Daniel’s coming from a long period injured, Hwang is coming with some questions to solve, without a good pre-season, and after the international break he worked with us one day.
“We analyse everything, look at what the players give me, look for what we need for the next game and take the next decisions. I don’t have a personal relationship with anybody, because I want to be free to take the best decisions for the club.”
On Podence staking a claim
“They know from my part, they need to continue to work hard. In the game they did what they do in training, so it was not a surprise for me that Daniel did what he did in the game, because he’s doing well in training. Today he trained and did well again.
“It’s a long season and I try to choose the best decisions for the games, but sometimes one player coming inside and scoring one goal doesn’t mean he needs to play from the start, he can also do the same thing, to come on and bring the game to us. It’s also about the best strategy to play against the other team, so our job is about decisions, and make the best decisions from what I’m watching every game and every training session.
“We have four wingers at the moment because we don’t have Pedro and they give us different solutions. The thing is to choose the best two for each moment. I managed against Daniel when he was ten years old, so I knew him since then, and played a lot of times against him. I know what he did at Sporting, Olympiacos and here, so I know him well and the things he can do for us and to help us in our game.”