HHeads turned when Bruno Lage was linked with the replacement of Nuno Espírito Santo as Wolves head coach, but the club insisted he was the first choice. Lage has spent only two seasons managing senior teams, one of which was in charge of Benfica B in the Portuguese second division; the other ended with Benfica’s first team winning the Primeira Liga in 2019.
The following season, Benfica had a slump, and after leaving the club last June he had lost his job, which made his arrival at Molineux a bit more curious, although having Jorge Mendes as an agent may have helped. Lage, however, has a long career, spent a decade at Benfica in various roles and worked as an assistant to Carlos Carvalhal.
Lage didn’t have a playing career to speak of, before he became a coach at age 21. At Benfica he spent most of his time coaching youth teams, but also taking over the B team, taking them to fourth place in the second division in 2018-19. Bell. It was a season that showed the hierarchy of the club that he was prepared to lead the first team.
“I really liked it,” says former Benfica midfielder Keaton Parks, now New York City FC. “He’s a very intense coach, he doesn’t let you laze at all, it’s about winning and getting the best out of you. It is very tactical; he liked to change the way we were playing depending on our opponent. He is a very intelligent coach, he reads the game well and is good at getting what he wants from his players ”.
Fluency is key when it comes to formations and tactics for Lage, keeping players on their toes. Each opponent is analyzed in depth, allowing Lage to play and adapt to any circumstance. No two games are the same for Lage, but an attacking philosophy is always at his heart.
“It was very detailed,” says Parks. “He is Portuguese but speaks English well. He always spoke to me personally and explained anything that I had not understood. He was very hands-on, always focused on each player, not just picking a handful of guys to focus on. The training was always very specific regarding what you need to work on as an individual and he always made sure that you worked on that and developed throughout the season. “
Lage refuses to allow anyone to give less than their best in training and games, regardless of their reputation. Players who tried to follow the movements were quickly punished. The Wolves players will have a chance to prove themselves and the new coach will forget what has happened before.
Parks adds: “We had first-team players but they were training with us because they weren’t going to play first-team games and even those guys who knew they weren’t going to play on the weekend, he always got the best of them; He never let anyone hang around, no matter who they were.
“That was one thing I liked about him, since you don’t like training with a couple of guys who are allowed to do nothing and make it more difficult for the other players. He wouldn’t allow that at all. “
At Benfica, Lage had to gather a squad from around the world. Lage would take the time to make sure his players settled down and understood what was needed of them.
“It’s very nice,” says Park. “He focuses a lot on football, but after training he would always joke and talk to us to make sure we are doing well off the pitch. He has a great personality and was very loved. “
This is not Lage’s first job in the UK, as the 45-year-old previously worked as Carvalhal’s assistant at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea. Lage was in control of training at both clubs. He took the sessions and kept the players in tip-top condition, all the while reporting to Carvalhal.
“It was difficult for me to watch him as a coach,” says Will Buckley, a former Sheffield Wednesday winger, “but he was good as a coach. It was very intense, he was always in it; every time I did an exercise, I wanted him to do it well, which is the intensity that he brought. He was passionate about the game and knew what he wanted from each session he organized, but as a player, that was good, as sometimes you get tired and need a push to catch up and do things correctly. “
Lage hopes to convince his best players to stay at Molineux by showing their nice side. “He was good to chat with, but he was very serious about everything he did, he wasn’t the type to get in trouble,” says Buckley. “He was still accessible as an assistant; If you ever wanted to talk to him, he was always open to doing so, but only on professional matters. I don’t think I’ve ever interacted with players outside of the work environment. “
Lage tested and improved his English working alongside Carvalhal, quickly earning the respect of his coaches. The coach and his assistant had a close relationship, sharing a vision of how soccer should be played, even if their methods were different.
“You’ll see some of Carlos’s traits and maybe some of the things Carlos told us came from Bruno anyway,” says Buckley. “They interacted differently and had different thoughts. When managers and assistants work well together, they brainstorm to try different things. It will be very similar in the way he wants to play, lowering the ball and building from behind. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism