Lage | 'A good performance with personality'

Bruno Lage was proud of his players for finishing the season with a “different image” from recent weeks.

Wolves helped make the Premier League’s final day a thrilling one by striking early through Pedro Neto at Anfield, and holding firm for much of the game, before Liverpool eventually found their way past the hosts. While disappointed with much of the campaign’s ending, the head coach saw plenty of positives from his group on the Anfield pitch and was proud with how they competed to ensure they’d finish with positive showing.

On a different image

“I think we did a different image. When you look back at the last six games, we did a different image, like we did against Chelsea and now Liverpool. We started very well, we started the game in a very good way, we surprised Liverpool. It was part of the strategy. We had good chances to increase our score, we didn’t score, they also had good chances, they score.

“First-half, two players had substitutions, so after it’s harder to manage the game, to freshen the midfield or the front two. After, in the end we suffered two more goals, disappointing goals to suffer, and we lost the game. For the last game, I think we did a good game, a good performance with personality, the team wasn’t afraid to play here.”

On the quick start

“We tried to surprise Liverpool. When we prepare the game, every assistant has their own task and one of them, it was about maybe we could surprise them in the beginning. They are waiting for us to build up from the goalkeeper, to find our defenders and then find the lines in front, but maybe we could put them under pressure with the long ball in behind and it was very good. The players understood very well the plan and we started by putting pressure on the other side by within three minutes scoring a goal. We start to grow up in the game.

“Every time we put pressure on them, we have good moments from our side, I think we created a lot of chances, we scored a goal, but the big difference of the game was that they scored the goals and we didn’t. All season, when you look at the chances we have to score and to kill the games, we didn’t put the ball in the net. After that, the opponent does and they score. In the end, we don’t take points.”

On revelling in the occasion

“I think my players when they play against these teams, not just this season, they accept the challenge to play against them, against these kinds of teams. They accept it. I’m proud of them because one more time they go with the plan, they prepare one more time the game very well. We surprised them, but the other side are a fantastic team, they change the players, and they put us in trouble.

“In the end, when you look at the big chances, two or three situations we could score and put them in trouble, but it was an exciting game. Next season we need more consistency – that’s why we’re preparing everything well, so during the season we have all the solutions in our squad to be competitive and consistent.”

On making life difficult for Liverpool

“At the beginning of the season, when we saw the schedule, we thought we’re going to play last game against Liverpool here, but we thought for ourselves. That’s why it’s so amazing the Premier League, we go until the end, and even during the game. You never knew who was going to finish first. My players did one more time a good performance, they did a fantastic job, they came with personality.

“We created more chances to score. We created a lot of problems. Proud of them, even today we dropped from eight to tenth, it wasn’t because the game against Chelsea or Liverpool, it was the other games. The last six it’s not good enough, it doesn’t represent all the season, and in the end this game represents what we did. It was difficult to change Pedro, when you know what he can do, after 20 minutes. After Jose, we had just one substitution to manage the game, against this kind of team.

“Proud of the players because they did a fantastic season, they had the ability to solve all the problems during the season, and when you come to the end, it’s putting our minds in front to prepare in the best way for the new season. Final word is Liverpool and Man City, what they did during the season, it’s so amazing. A long season and Liverpool did their best here, Man City did their best in the games. Fantastic teams and they deserve everything they get.”

On the summer break

“There’s no time to break because the same problems we found in the season, the problems remain. We need to have two or three players to be better and we have to be aware of what happened because if you miss top players, because you never know, if someone comes with a big offer to any of our best players, we need to replace them in the best way.

“Since January transfer window I’ve started working on that, so we have everything prepared. Now is to start work because we want to start with the new players in the pre-season because the previous pre-season we only had two weeks with all the players, so we need to start now and we need to find the best players. We have good targets and start the season with all the players to do a good pre-season.”