Having built a team with a very strong Portuguese identity, Wolverhampton Wanderers have struck a familiar chord with their new managerial appointment. Former coach Nuno Espirito Santo has move on, with disagreements prompting a shock exit. The managerial search was quick, though, with former Benfica coach Bruno Lage hired as the next Wolves coach.
Given the strong Portuguese contingent at the club, sticking to a similarly minded coach might make a lot of sense. Wolves are owned by Fosun, who also have an arrangement with Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes. They have therefore leaned heavily on a strong Portuguese connection within the club both in playing staff and in coaching roles. The attack-minded Lage arrives, bringing a trophy winning history but also the worry that his Benfica team ran out of gas and were far too porous defensively.
If there is one critique of the Nuno era, it was that the Wolves team he built could be a touch conservative. The far more aggressively minded Lage might offer a new kind of experience. He built a Benfica team that played sublime attacking football, but also had a penchant for blow-ups and conceding strange goals.
Wolves fans, then, might be looking forward to a whole new approach. Lage, though, does have some experience of English football; he was a coach alongside Carlos Carvalhal when he was in charge of Sheffield Wednesday and then Swansea City. So, he knows the British game and should not be caught out too much.
What did Bruno Lage say after being appointed Wolves manager?
In a statement speaking to the club media department, Lage said: “First of all, I’m very happy. It’s a big opportunity. I’m very happy because I’ve returned to this country, and to be the manager of a big team.
“It’s a team and a club that wants to do history and a chance to compete in the Premier League. So, I’m happy, excited, with a big ambition to do great things for this club. I want to create a good dynamic of group, with my staff, with all the departments of the club. I have tried to link all together to start to build up the new cycle.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to understand what Nuno [Espírito Santo] did in these four years and my ambition is to continue and to improve what he did.”
When asked about his previous experience of the English game, Lage, 45, said: “I was here [in the UK] for three years, so I know Wolves, but now, the best thing to do – the next thing to do – is to know everyone better. That includes the club, the fans, and also to try to create a plan, just not for the next game or the next training, but for the future.
“That’s why for me, it’s very important to create that dynamic of teamwork here in this building; to try to realise what we are doing in the future.”
Wolves fans, then, can look forward to an exciting appointment from a coach who knows nothing other than hard work and attacking play.