Wolves manager Bruno Lage has revealed the reasons behind his recent tactical thinking and made it clear he will not shirk decisions on selection.
The Portuguese replaced compatriot Nuno Espirito Santo in the summer. He was looking to take the club back to the right end of the table after an indifferent campaign under the previous boss. But it has been a tough beginning to life at Molineux for the 45-year-old.
The West Midlanders sit 14th in the top-flight standings, with six points to their name. They lost their opening three games, all by a score of 1-0.
However the opponents were Leicester City, Tottenham and Manchester United – all expected to be in or around the top six. Victory over Watford broke their duck before a disappointing 2-0 reverse at home to Brentford.
Last weekend’s 1-0 success over Southampton was a step in the right direction. But defeat to Newcastle United on Saturday could see them plunge back towards the bottom three.
And he stressed that doing homework on opposition teams is vital to getting the team sheet correct.
“It’s important to have top players with different profiles,” he told reporters, per Birmingham Live. “When I looked for the Southampton games – I looked at two games, against Newcastle where they had 70 percent possession and the way they pressed all game against Man City, and I thought to myself I need a different role for Joao (Moutinho).
“He can play at number six and have more of the ball. Neves can do that well and also side to side. But in that game I preferred Joao, he can link more and have more of the ball.
“Ruben was doing well, but for that game I preferred Joao and Leander (Dendoncker). And for tomorrow, I’ve already looked at it and made my decisions.”
Lage stamps his authority on Wolves
Lage had cut his teeth in British football as an assistant at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City before taking the reins at Benfica. He lasted only 18 months at Estadio da Luz before being sacked after a poor run of form.
The former winger is still not that experienced at the highest level. But, when asked if his charges will accept his decisions on selection, he pulled no punches.
“They need to understand, I’m the boss,” he retorted. “I’m straight with them. They need to understand this. The worst thing they can do is not work for the team.
“We need to tell them and they need to understand this. Sometimes you can jump from the bench and help the team.”
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