Lage | 'After the whistle they will support us'

Bruno Lage expects Nuno Espirito Santo to receive a deserved warm reception on Sunday but know it’s time for business when the whistle goes.

The new head coach takes on the old one on Sunday, as Wolves welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Molineux for a fixture bulging with subplots. It’s Lage’s first in charge of Wolves and Raul Jimenez is expected to play a Premier League game on home soil for the first time since November 2020, against his former boss, which all culminates into an exciting occasion, according to Lage.

On welcoming Nuno back

“I think a big, big welcome to him, to his staff, because what he did here it was really amazing. We can feel it. I saw that from the Championship to the Premier League and to play in the Europa League, four amazing years, so I think the fans will give him a big welcome because they don’t forget what he did. But after the whistle they will support us, to help us to win the match.

“Before the whistle, the fans cannot forget what he did here, but after the whistle, I think they will stick behind me and my team because we are working hard to give them success and continue to bring success to the club.

“It’s a good feeling when you come to a place like Molineux, and Nuno will feel the love from the fans and from the players because of the work he did here. But after the whistle, me, my players and the fans want to beat Tottenham, not Nuno, Tottenham. We cannot forget that.”

On connecting with the fans

“The most important thing is time. For sure, when Nuno arrived, the people gave him time to start working and build up his ideas. For now, the fans support me. Now it’s time for me and the players to give everything for them.

“The first thing I have in my mind is the fans are very important, I was very happy to see all the fans return to the stadium last week. What I have in my mind is to create the stronger team so we can play like we did against Leicester, so the fans feel proud of their team. For now, it’s my time to give everything for the fans and push the players to work hard.

“I was here [at Molineux] before and I felt the environment – now I want to feel the environment as a manager. For sure, it will be a special day, but more important, it’s the way we want to play the game, the people in the end will feel the way we want to play – this is the most important for our first game.”

On Jimenez’s long-awaited return

“The interview he did last week and the way he put things; it was very hard. I can’t imagine the way he sees the world now, every day when he wakes up and looks at his wife and child and comes here to play football for our fans.

“I think only when you go through a situation like him, you can feel the feeling of being alive. For sure, it’ll be very good for him, and the fans will be behind him to support him.”

On Traore’s flexibility

“It’s not thinking about just him. If he feels comfortable playing on both sides, Raul may feel more confident in the middle or Trincao more on the right, it doesn’t depend on one player, but what the collective can give me. In that way, for me it’s important, when I talk with him, he says I can play him both sides, it’s not a problem.

“Every time you can see two faces of the same situation. He crosses better from the right, but links better inside on left and appeared three times against Schmeichel against Leicester. I think most important is he can give us very good things on both sides.”