Wolves debrief: Bruno Lage's side making quiet progress

With another significant win, Wolves are happily marching on under the radar.

Daniel Podence of Wolverhampton Wanderers battles for possession with Said Benrahma. (Photo by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC/Wolves via Getty Images).
Daniel Podence of Wolverhampton Wanderers battles for possession with Said Benrahma. (Photo by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC/Wolves via Getty Images).

Now up to sixth in the Premier League, Bruno Lage’s team are not largely fancied for a European spot, yet they are continuing to pick up results in the background.

An impressive victory over high-flying West Ham at the weekend has seen the side right some wrongs, while certain individuals shone.

Consistency is key

Lage has regularly spoken about consistency, not only in results but within games.

Bouncing back from a poor display and loss away at Crystal Palace before the international break, Wolves had a slow start at home to the Hammers but quickly settled after the first 10 minutes.

Once they got the ball down, found the forwards in between the lines and released the wing-backs, they began to dominate and create chances.

Wolves deserved to be ahead at the break and had played superbly well. They have had similar first-half showings too, but failing to continue that momentum in the second half.

But on Saturday they came out firing in the second half and forced Lukasz Fabianski into several big saves, before finally taking the lead after an hour.

Although they did fall into the same bad habit of sitting deep on a slim lead and inviting pressure – something they must rectify – Wolves were able to find more consistency within the game and, as a result, find the win.

Midfield masterclass

Despite coming up against the imposing Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice,Wolves dominated the midfield through Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves. Moutinho deserves his credit for a strong performance, but Neves was particularly impressive.

His accuracy and range of passing was incredible. He consistently won duels and mopped up danger.

Most of Wolves’ attacks, including the goal, came from Neves getting out of a tight area, finding the right pass and getting the team moving through the thirds.

He was exceptional and although Lage has set him targets to improve, he was also delighted with him.

“It’s a good example seeing the way Ruben and Joao controlled the game,” said Lage. “That’s the thing I want and they need to understand two things.

“Firstly, consistency, which is important for him (Neves) and his career and the other one is to improve his defensive game.

“The way we are defending but also the individual duels. He’s working hard and if he continues to work hard and improve we have in our hands, and in our club, a top player.”

Taking his chance

Daniel Podence was a surprise inclusion ahead of Adama Traore and Francisco Trincao, but Lage’s decision was justified and the winger took his chance.

He dropped into the spaces in between the lines to receive the ball and effectively dissected the West Ham defence with forward passes.

He also moved out wide when necessary, and from that position he created the goal for Raul Jimenez.

On only his second Premier League start of the season Podence made a statement and put more pressure on Traore and Trincao to up their game and reclaim the spot.

With Jimenez and Hwang Hee-chan currently nailed on to start every week, those three are battling for one spot and Podence’s display may have earned him the rights for now.

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