Lage | On facing Spurs and Conte, away records and finding goals

Bruno Lage has promised the Wolves supporters that he will be the first person to push his side to improve against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend after successive defeats brought a halt to a positive start to 2022.

The head coach insisted that the result on Thursday night against Arsenal will have no impact on his team trying everything they can to get back to winning ways in north London on Sunday, where victory would see Wolves win four successive away fixtures for the first time since 1980, but breaking records is not on Lage’s radar, who is only focused on the job he has to do to overcome Antonio Conte and his Spurs side.

On a quick turnaround from Thursday night

“At the end of the game against Arsenal, I was the first man to continue to push hard everyone and tomorrow I will be the first man to go there to continue. Even if we’d have won that game, I’d still want to be a better team and better players against Tottenham.

“This is a process and this is the only thing I can promise, especially for our fans, and the fans who follow our team, I will push our players to continue to work hard and for them to continue to play in this way. Every time and every game will be a chance to win points.

“We are in a good position and I understand everyone dreams of different challenges in the league, but I will just look at my squad, at the opponent, and every time try to take the best decisions for the next game.”

On away records to break at Spurs

“Even against Arsenal it was a good chance for us because we’d never won our first four Premier League matches to start a new year, so I don’t like that kind of challenge because it’s so hard and it puts more pressure.

“Every time, it’s a good time to play like we play and to win points. That’s the target. We’ve got to move on, continue, and even if we’d have won [on Thursday night], we’d go there with the same ambition to play our game and create our chances.

“We will fight for the ball. You saw our mentality [against Arsenal]. We know how they play and every time, our first idea is to play with the ball. It’s going to be hard, of course, and we will try to win.

“The one thing I do every time when I start to prepare the game is look at the offensive side. When you go for a game, you really don’t know how much time you’ll have the ball, but when you get the ball, we need to play our game.”

On facing off with Antonio Conte

“As you know, he was a big player and the way he won the league with Chelsea, the way they play with three defenders, it was amazing.

“It’s going to be another big challenge against someone who was a top professional as a player and is one of the best managers now in the world.

“When you are working in top teams and you are winning everywhere you go, you win titles, it’s going to be a challenge for the players and also for me.”

On Spurs’ inconsistencies

“Every manager talks about that [needing consistency]. I was talking about that especially during September and October and telling everyone what we want; we want consistency, we want consistent things and to be solid.

“Since Man United and that good performance, we missed Saiss, we didn’t have Hwang, now we’re without Joao, and we want to find every time that consistency, but it’s not an excuse because we won against Brentford and Southampton.

“I didn’t watch the game on Wednesday night [against Southampton] but every time it’s very hard, it’s a challenge. Southampton are very hard to play against, and to give credit for us, I think we are the only team that has beaten them both home and away this season. They run a lot, they press a lot and they can create a lot of problems.

“But Conte has come and has been working for one or two months, and with games and a lot of things happen, Covid and injuries, maybe he didn’t have the time he wants and the time he desires to put the team to play in his own way.”

On two games without a goal

“Against Norwich, we felt we needed the situation to put one more man between the lines, we worked a little bit this week on that and we did better against Arsenal. We put our men on the ball, and that situation with Fabio was a good link with three men inside of the box to score goals.

“Of course, we don’t have in our squad [players who score many goals], but I’ve said that since the beginning, because what happened last year, where comes the threat to score goals and what is the average of our players to score goals? We don’t have too many players with a good average.

“We have Raul [Jimenez] with a good average and I think it was Ruben [Neves] who scored the most goals last year. Now we have Daniel [Podence] who’s scored two goals, Hwang has scored four, we have players outside who can help us every time to have a good rhythm in the game and to score goals.

£These things come from work. But the most important thing for me is to continue to give confidence to my players to create and understand where they can appear with the dynamic, and to continue to work and give a lot of confidence to score goals.”

On getting goals from Jimenez

“Not just Raul, but everyone. It’s not about just one player. Raul is so important with the way we are defending and Jose Sa is so important with the way that we have the ball. I don’t put pressure on anyone individually, but I put pressure on the whole, not just because Raul is a striker.

“All of the wingers, they should score more goals, the way we put full-backs very high, they should score more goals, the midfielders have been scoring goals, like Ruben, Joao [Moutinho] and Leander [Dendoncker], and the centre-backs on the set-pieces. It’s not just one man’s responsibility, it’s a team responsibility.”