Early promise gives way to questions of Wolves' approach

Some of the positivity surrounding Wolves’ displays – despite early losses – has now partly been displaced.

Bruno Lage is not yet in the realm of internal or external pressure over his position, but a poor performance and 2-0 loss to Brentford – followed by the penalty shoot-out defeat to Spurs in Carabao Cup on Wednesday – has not helped.

That is compounded by the fact that Wolves lost their opening three Premier League games, despite performing well in each of them.

Looking at the last two games and how the club now looks forward to Southampton on Sunday, there are certainly important talking points to consider.

To press or not to press

In Lage’s early games in charge, and throughout pre-season, he adopted an aggressive pressing style that allowed his side to win the ball back quickly and spring attacks.

Wolves have used it fairly successfully already this season as they opened up teams and created an abundance of chances.

But against both Brentford and Spurs they came away from that. Lage, perhaps, saw a tactical reason for not employing it – but everything he has said so far tells us he is still keen on that philosophy.

It is what his football is built on, but the players lacked intensity throughout the Brentford game and suffered from the London club’s own high press.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Leander Dendoncker scores their side's first goal of the game during the Carabao Cup third round match

Against Spurs, Wolves again failed to press and when they tried to pass it out from the back they were being forced into mistakes.

Leander Dendoncker, in a desperate bid to make something happen for his side, was pressing high up the pitch but leaving huge gaps in midfield as his team-mates did not join him.

Either everyone presses, or no-one does.

Players in contention

Of course, Wednesday was not all negative. Wolves did show some fight to come back from 2-0 down and force penalties.

Some players who came in will have put their names in the hat for Sunday, too.

Willy Boly, after a nervy start, was far more assured as he grew into the game, while Ki-Jana Hoever and Rayan Ait-Nouri both did well in both wing-back positions.

Of those two, Ait-Nouri is more likely to get a game, if he recovers from his suspected concussion, due to the recent poor form of Fernando Marcal.

Finally, Dendoncker has had limited minutes but enjoyed a full 90 with a goal and an assist for his troubles.

The Belgian international proved a useful anchor alongside Ruben Neves, and also broke forward when necessary. He could get the nod ahead of Joao Moutinho.

Forward options

With Raul Jimenez yet to get back to his best and Francisco Trincao still getting to grips with English football, Hwang Hee-chan and Daniel Podence are offering competition in the forward areas.

Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates (Photo by Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images).

The latter had a poor first half against Spurs but took his goal nicely in the second half and looked dangerous. On the ball he is superb.

Hwang, meanwhile, is strong, robust and quick. He presses aggressively, tackles with conviction and has the right passion to be a hit among the Molineux faithful.

Wolves will hope he grabs more goals over time, but they may have found a gem in the South Korean.

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