The lowdown on new Wolves boss Bruno Lage

Bruno Lage is has been confirmed as Wolves’ new manager – but what is the Portuguese all about?

Bruno Lage got title-winning Benfica scoring plenty of goals (PA)
Bruno Lage got title-winning Benfica scoring plenty of goals (PA)

The 45-year-old won the Primeira Liga title at previous club Benfica, has served as assistant at both Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea, and also has decades of experience in youth football.

Still, many are wondering what Lage will bring to Molineux.

So here, we take a closer look at his coaching methods – and his Benfica reign in particular – as Wolves prepare to announce him as boss later this week.

Goals galore

The most striking aspect of Lage’s time at Benfica is the sheer number of goals his team scored as they won the league in 2018/19.

Stepping up from the B team after the sacking of Rui Vitoria, he really got them firing on all cylinders.

His 19 games in charge that campaign saw them manage a massive 72 goals – which translates to 3.78 goals per game.

In there, too, was a 10-0 demolition job on Nacional.

Looking at his spell there as a whole, Benfica scored 181 goals in 76 matches.

It only seems fair, therefore, to call him an attack-minded coach. A similar goal rate here would go down a treat.

Fluid formation

Of course, there is no guarantee Lage will stick with the same system he went with at Benfica.

Nuno Espirito Santo, for example, had not gone with three at the back that much before sticking it by it for so long at Wolves. Lage, though, played a 4-4-2 in Lisbon – with some modern tweaks on the old-school set-up – to great success.

Joao Felix was the breakout star of his tenure. As one of two strikers alongside, mainly, Haris Seferovic, the youngster would often be seen dropping deep and finding clever pockets of space.

Pizzi was used on the right of a midfield four but would often drift inside, while Gabriel and Andreas Samaris were the holders.

And that extra security in the middle of the park allowed full-backs Alex Grimaldo and Andre Almeida to burst forward at will, regularly chipping in with assists.

Work needs to be done on the Wolves squad this summer, there is no hiding from that, but some of the current crop could perhaps take up similar roles under the incoming Lage.

Fabio Silva could maybe be used a bit like how Felix was – being on the move rather than engaging in too many battles with bigger, streetwise defenders.

Fabio Silva could suit Lage’s style (AMA)

Right-back Nelson Semedo may also benefit from more freedom to attack after putting in better performances during the second half of 2020/21.

Youth being used

Having spent eight years coaching in Benfica’s youth ranks, from 2004 until 2012, it is not a huge surprise that Lage ended up giving a fair few players their senior breakthroughs.

The best of those was Felix, who chipped in with 15 goals from 21 starts in 18/19 before joining Atletico Madrid for an eye-watering £113million.

Florentino Luis, Ferro and Gedson Fernandes were also given the platform to impress.

As we all know, Nuno was not afraid to give youngsters chances at Wolves, with Morgan Gibbs-White, Max Kilman and Owen Otasowie among those to come through.

The owners will hope that Lage can continuing developing those three, and bring some others into the mix.

Where it went wrong

A run of two wins from 13 games, and five in a row without victory, saw Lage’s spell come to an end – offering his resignation last summer.

Despite that woeful run, though, Benfica were still second in the table, sitting six points behind Porto.

Lage has been out of work since, so you would imagine he has had time to reflect on his mistakes and is, ultimately, feeling refreshed and raring to go.

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