Bruno Lage believes his players have displayed the consistency he demands in recent weeks and has put pressure on them to maintain those levels against Southampton.
Wolves have kept four consecutive clean sheets and won three of those four games, so spirits are high as the Saints come to Molineux on Saturday afternoon. Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Lage discussed coping without Romain Saiss, who is away at the African Cup of Nations, and the improvements of Fabio Silva, who caught the eye last time out against the Blades.
On injuries in the camp
“For now, nothing new. We have the same players as the last game. Saiss is doing very well this season, him with Coady and Max are doing very well, not just defending but helping the team win points because they are also a threat at set pieces.
“He’s an important player but I think we also have solutions in our squad to replace him. I’m confident that Marcal and Leander can play there, and we continue to be solid.”
On the season so far
“I’m very happy, since the first day. Even yesterday, we’ve been watching what we did, sometimes we have time for that, and we watched the last games. He had time to analyse what we did against Chelsea, Man United and Sheffield United, and I said to the players it’s time to work.
“Six months gave us plenty of time to work with the consistency, and we did it in these three games, which is important for a football team. Against these teams, don’t be afraid to have the ball, go there with personality, and with the talent I have here, we can grow up as a team. Even yesterday, the point was the analyse what we did with three words: consistency, personality and talent of the players.”
On what needs to continue
“The most important is we continue to play the way we’re playing. That’s why we talked with the players, and that’s the pressure for them, no excuse, we need to continue to play in this way. After, the good things will come.
“We play another game, against a strong opponent, Southampton are also in a good moment, they are a team that can play in different ways. They are very good when they play a line of five, usually they play a line of four, but against Tottenham and Brentford they played five and can play with two or three midfielders. Tomorrow, with a big ambition to play, that’s the most important thing.”
On a tough Saints test
“We need to prepare very well, and we prepared the last two days. The first two days of the week we watched what they did the last three or four games and yesterday and today we tried to prepare the game in the best way. We need to know several things, and the guys know.
“They know how to play against a line of four and to play against a line of five. They know if they become a line of five with three midfielders or two midfielders. We know because we are working very hard in those situations. Even when Man United changed and they put the left-back in the line of three to build up, also we changed our way to press.
“We press in one way in the first-half and we adjust against two and they changed. We pressed in the same way against three. These are the little things and we are crating, we are building up and now we know how to do it, and that’s why it’s important to continue in the present, not to look forward, and maintain the consistency I want for my team.”
On Silva improving
“He’s doing very well. I’m very happy with him. To see the big difference what Fabio did against Tottenham [in the Carabao Cup] and see what Fabio did in the last 10/15 minutes against Man United and at least the first 45 minutes against Sheffield United. Fabio is also a young player, and he knows he has a manager and a staff who believe a lot in him, and he needs to continue to work hard every day.
“I believe a lot in him, and he can be a top striker, but for now, he needs to put all his talent every day into training and after, when he goes to matches, it’s easier. If he goes with happiness, we feel very happy because he’s doing very well, he’s helping the team, and he’s happy.”
On Silva working with Jimenez
“We can play with a two. There was one time against Aston Villa when we played the last 15 minutes in that position. It’s a question for us every time. But we’ve seen good things with him, the way he pressed, the way he helped, he knows also the positions and the way he knows the system better and the way we want to play.
“They can play together, as our wingers can also, I remember playing Hwang, Daniel or Adama with one of the strikers, so now it’s depending on them and the answers they give me every time in training. I’m very happy with Fabio and he knows he comes every day for training, to train well, and the first guy he needs to show things is me.”