“It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past,” Bruno Lage told Sky Sports. “What Nuno has done in the past three or four years, a lot of success, has been amazing. Now, it’s a new cycle.” Having another Portuguese coach at Molino, a man who exudes calmness just like his predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo did, might seem like a smooth transition. But this is the summer of change for Wolves as they usher in a new era under Lage. Nuno’s influence at the club is not in doubt, but after three years of progress, finishing last season in the bottom half of last season led to a breakup with a feeling the journey has taken its course. Hired to bring new ideas and regain momentum, Lagee is not shy about this need for change. That’s why he’s here. “We need to manage the ball better and be more aggressive without the ball,” he says. “We want to go ahead and play differently. I don’t know if it’s better or worse, it’s just my idea. We need to be a more competitive team, a better team.” This is a coach of some pedigree, a title winner with Benfica after just five months on the job after having engineered an unexpected transformation at the famous old club. But others point to the fact that it’s still his only job in management and he’s gone within 18 months. At the age of 45, there are only four coaches younger than him in the Premier League. However, this is a bit misleading given that even the likes of Dean Smith and Sean Dyche were still playing when Lage took his first coaching role at Benfica aged just 27. He is much more than a child of Benfica. He digs deeper and his experiences are more diverse than one might expect. This is the guy who’s worked in Dubai, Sheffield and Swansea, and he’s a guy who’s steeped in the game, and he’s written two books on coaching, one with former Wednesday coach Carlos Carvalhal. His father, Fernando, a former player and coach, was a secretary to the board of directors of the General Assembly of the Portuguese Football Coaches Association, and “he was the first influence,” says Lage. I always watched him getting ready for training sessions and preparing for matches. At Benfica, his usual walk around the pitch an hour before kick-off attracted some media attention. It was borrowed from his father. Jaime Graca, the former Portugal player who took him to Benfica in 2004, was another huge factor in his life. Laji named his son after him. “These three people, they were the biggest influencers. The whole way to watch the matches, the training and how to prepare the team.” Photo: Bruno Lagg alongside Carlos Carvalhal during the FA Cup match against Wolverhampton, where he spent with Carvalhal, three seasons at Sheffield Wednesday and six months in Swansea, which is why this move to England is not quite as new as some might think. He has worked in the Premier League, although he considers his experience in the Championship to be key. “The Sheffield Wednesday experience was a tremendous one for me because of the way the tournament is organized, competing on Saturdays and Tuesdays. It was part of my success when I arrived at Benfica. It was because of that experience that I was able to organize in the short term, playing matches without training. It was That’s very important.” Lage faced Wolves Nuno in the tournament and is full of admiration for the club’s rise under owners Fosun. He knows he has inherited a good batch. “The environment between the players, between the players and the device, is really great.” In fact, there are times during this interview even his language mirrors that of his predecessor. “They need to play as one. That’s why a wolf pack means so much because we need to play as a unit, as a pack. With and without the ball, we go together.” But often it comes back to the idea of this need for change. Lagg is in daily contact with sporting director Scott Cellars as he searches for greater cohesion off the pitch, as six new staff members look to help connect divisions at the club’s Compton training base. Photo: Bruno Lage Staff Brother Luis Nascimento (second from right) The desire to have two players in every position is also a clear break from the formerly favored younger team. This approach brought continuity until injuries and fatigue took their toll and a lack of competition for places became seen as counterproductive. Most of all, his focus was on the need for a change of style on the court. “We need to manage the ball better. The play, we need to know how to switch play. We need to always be balanced when we have the ball.” At the same time, when we don’t have the ball, we have to be more aggressive.” Everyone goes up If we stay average, everyone is average. If we need to hold back to defend our goal then everyone falls but we are still aggressive because the other team needs to feel that when they play with us we are a tough opponent to play against.” major last season. “We need to be more vigilant in these situations because we concede a lot of goals. This is a problem that we need to work on and work hard to be better in those moments of the match.” These are the main things that we’ve been working on these past two weeks. “Is two weeks enough for such a fundamental shift in approach? Wolves ranked near the bottom for most pressing metrics last season and there was little time to establish this new way of thinking. Conor Cody and Adama Traore have just returned to training, the latter being the subject of There is ongoing transfer speculation, as well as Ruben Neves, Pedro Neto and Johnny Otto have been absent for a long time, Wilfried Poli and new signing Yerson Mosquera have also been injured.Forward Raul Jimenez is making a welcome comeback, signing for Francisco Trincao, initially on loan from Barcelona, is an exciting prospect, Although Lage prefers to stress his compatriot’s need to adapt, he notes that “Trinkao is one player.” “First of all, he has to be a teammate who works hard for the team.” Then there is Fabio Silva, the young striker who enjoys With a great reputation. There is hope that the presence of Luis Nascimento, Lage’s brother and coach whom Silva refers to as the most important figure in his nascent career, will be a catalyst for him to launch, the manager has a message for him and the others. “We have to work,” Lage says. hard every day.” “The older guys can’t live in the past and the younger guys can’t live thinking, ‘I’m going to be a good player.’ We have to work to prove that you belong in this team, that you belong in this competition and that you are a great player.” Every day is a challenge for these people. Because what the fans want in the end, they don’t care whether the player is 18 or 30, and what they want is a competitive team with the best players.” Those fans seem to have adopted a new guy during pre-season – Bruno Lenono was wiping Easily enough in the cheers – but the fixture list wasn’t nice A trip to Leicester followed by home games against Nuno Tottenham and Manchester United and Liege still getting to know his surroundings “I spent my time between the hotel and the training ground preparing for the sessions.” There were two of them. In the day, many videos and meetings, but he can be forgiven because he feels that time is against him. He admits that the pre-season has taken place in two deserved parts o the number of players missing in the first three weeks, he is optimistic. He says: “In the last two games against Stoke City and against Coventry , I’m starting to see things that n Practice it.” Image: Bruno Lage hopes to get the best from players like Fabio Silva “Every coach is in the same position. We all want more time to work with the players. We don’t have that so we need to start working. We want it. At the moment, I am happy with what we are doing. “And he is happy to be at Wolverhampton.” I think this was the right moment for the club to start working in the Premier League. “All my life I have been thinking about preparing myself for the next challenge. When I was at Benfica, I was preparing myself all the time to be the best coach I could be. When I worked as Carlos’ assistant, and I worked hard to be the best assistant I could be. “When I came to the B . team [at Benfica]I worked to be ready to be a first-team manager at Benfica or elsewhere. Now, here I am, 45, at a huge club in a huge competition with top players and top managers. Of course, this is very important for my career. “But what is Lagg’s success at Wolves?” The first step is to create a competitive team and play the way I want to. If we have the opportunity to get players in every position, and play the way I want to, we will win matches. “If we win, we will be successful. The boss will be happy, the players will be happy and most of all our fans will be happy because of the way we play and win matches.” The new Wolves cycle has begun.