Bruno Lage was full of praise for Luke Cundle after handing the Academy graduate his first senior start for Wolves in the Premier League victory at Tottenham Hotspur.
Wolves were looking at bouncing back at the first attempt following their first top-flight loss of the season last time out, and Lage’s players duly obliged, putting in a dominant first-half performance to take a commanding lead over a despondent Spurs side thanks to goals from Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker.
Although the hosts attempted to hit back in the second-half, the gold and black defence held on well, with Lage pleased with the control his players asserted in the game to secure the three points.
On bouncing back at Tottenham
“The most important thing is the way we play. Now I can say that is why I was very upset after the game against Norwich and the game against Arsenal, because we didn’t play the way we knew we wanted to play.
“But that is why the mentality was like it was today. We came here with the motivation to play our game. It was hard days, especially after Arsenal, and it worked. It was a victory, but more important than that was the way we played.
“I don't care where we are playing, we respect the opponents but you need to come with big confidence and we did. We played very well in the first-half, and the first 45 minutes was very good on our part.
“Second-half was a bit different as they changed the system and put more offensive players to try to score. We hold on and create chances. Maybe they deserved a goal, but there were still chances for us. In the end, the most important thing is the way we play as that is what creates the chances, the goals and the points. Now we’re seventh, but it’s important for us to be solid in the performance.”
Celebrating the 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 way 😏 pic.twitter.com/VljmFzYuIM— Wolves (@Wolves) February 13, 2022
On victory in north London
“We put one more man in the midfield, and I said before that maybe Luke [Cundle] can be a key man because he can allow us to play with four midfielders. We have a lot of time on the ball, they come with a press, usually they play with three strikers to press our centre-backs and we had four midfielders against two. That gave us more ball and that’s why we created more chances and scored two goals.
“On the other side, when you are in a bad moment and you suffer a goal and the other team get going with a high pressure, and then you score two, it’s harder to get back into the game. They did well all game, but the first-half we were the better team, second-half it was more balanced, but I think we deserved the three points.
“After 2-0, they changed the system a little bit, we adapted and we changed our pressure, and they played inside very well. That’s why today I think Ruben [Neves] was very important to control that line when Kane comes to link with Son and Moura.
“But we controlled that very well, especially good work from the centre-backs every time to control the space inside. I think we controlled them very well and had more chances to score goals. But the way we played here, with a kid who’s come from the Academy, and I think he’s 19 and he played very well. I’m very happy with him.”
On a first senior start for Cundle
“The kid started playing with us since the first day and I can see since the first day good things about him. Today, the plan was to play with four midfielders, and I looked for the kid because I had this plan and he gave me that option.
“His teammates, they have a lot of confidence in him. They see these details things in training. When you have top players with the confidence to pass the ball to him because he doesn't lose the ball. If they feel this confidence, it is easier for me to put players like him in the game.
“That’s also important for young kids. Maybe he deserved his chance earlier and could have got more minutes in the Premier League, but when you have your chance you need to say 'I am here' and he did.
“Today he was very good but now for Luke, it’s about continuing to train, work hard and the most important thing is the confidence he can give to us.”
Pre match ➡️ post match— Wolves (@Wolves) February 13, 2022
👏 Luke Cundle 👏 pic.twitter.com/SCp85DBHsR
On pushing up the table
“Every time is a moment to play our game. That’s the most important thing for me. Consistency in the team, personality to play our game and ambition in our character to do achieve more. That’s the only way we can reach important things.
“We work hard to prepare the games in the best way every time and give all the information to the players. After, we need them to play our game. Where we go, depends on our character.
“That’s the challenge now. We have the character and the personality to play like this. We have ambition to conquer good things. I am here to play my game and to make a lot of pressure for other teams. We did that today.
“We have one more week to go and one more week to work. Leicester is a tough opponent but we need to continue in this way. Every time to challenge the players to play how they did today.”