Bruno Lage wants his Wolves players to focus on being competitive as a squad, to ensure as a collective they “bring success for our club”.
A month since the start of pre-season, Lage has been able to cast an eye over his squad and has placed great emphasis on competitiveness amongst the players, with two genuine options in each position his aim. Pleased with what he’s seen so far in training and during seven warm-up matches, Lage’s attention will be creeping towards the Premier League, but he wants his players to focus on the present and getting the best out of each other.
On his first impressions of the squad
“Very good. Very good. The environment, the friendships between them. People always talk about the big spirit of the team and now I can see that. But the first message I said to them, because I believe that in football, it’s about that – we cannot live from the past.
“I was here when they started this cycle of four years, because I was at Sheffield Wednesday, and I could see what the previous staff and all the players did for the club. From the Championship, they won the league, they got to the UEFA Cup [Europa League], it was brilliant, fantastic, I was watching.
“But now, we need to understand that no-one lives in the past, and no-one lives for the future. I was a good player, or I will be a good football player – it’s not important. What is important is day by day. Now is important to feel, to see, and continue with the bigger picture to bring success for our club.”
On how much the youngsters have impressed him
“A lot. All the boys I’m happy with. One good example is what they did in the second-half against Las Palmas. So, they have had the chance to work with me for three weeks and they did very well.
“I was very happy for them. If after three weeks of work we can do that, now we're going to have the whole squad with us, we're going to have the ambition to play like we did in the second-half. I also saw good things in the game against Al Shabab.
“In five games, we've won three and we lose two, but it's not about winning or losing. In these games, we did good things, but there are things we need to improve, but I’m very happy with the work.”
On what he wants from the squad
“The most important thing is to be competitive. I speak with our chairman one or two times a week, I speak with our sporting director every day, and they know I believe players should be competitive. That’s why I believe we need to create a competitive squad. I want the best, I want two good players in each position.
“Sometimes I’m joking with the players, ‘You need to go to sleep dreaming about your partner, be ready to compete for your place.’ If you create that squad, if you create that dynamic, me as a manager, I’ll be more happy because I’ll have solutions in here.
“For the players, it’s good for them because when they are competing, they can improve better, and also for the fans, because if we have a strong and competitive team, for sure we can win more games and they will be more happy.”
On putting his philosophy across to the players
“Now is the best time to do this. Before, we didn’t have all the players here for the first three weeks, but now, every time we have with the players in here, we can do that. Before training we will have a little meeting, we can watch videos, this is my idea for working this situation, they can see, we can discuss and then after we go practice.
“In that process we go step by step, we’re creating my ideas, and start to link my ideas with the capacity and the abilities of our players.”
On utilising his previous experiences
“This is the process. This is our life. Every experience you have, in our country or outside, meeting people, working with different people also. This is when I’m looking to try a different way, when I was 35 to change my whole life – working in Benfica and then I move to Dubai, since then, I've had a lot of experience.
“I think it was the step or the direction that I did to change my whole life. I’m very proud of that decision, to take some risks, to take out from my comfort zone, and after that, the people gave me opportunities to work with them, learning with them, and they gave me so many things.
“Now, every time I think about it, I don’t care about the future, I care about today, so I need to work hard every day to make sure I am ready for the next challenge.”
On being vocal in training
“I don’t know if it’s important, I think it’s me. If you want to know me, I’m there on the training pitch. What I’m doing in training, is me. It comes from me, it’s natural, and that’s why the players feel comfortable. When you see they are starting to think and starting to play with your own ideas, it’s a big pleasure for me.”
On his long-term goals
“The main point is you need to be ready, you need to prepare yourself for the next challenge, so I’m here, I’m preparing myself. I cannot live in the past, I need to live what I’m doing now - to win the next game.”