Bruno Lage wants to do ‘great things’ at Wolves after being appointed manager

Wolves have appointed Bruno Lage as their new head coach three weeks after parting company with Nuno Espírito Santo. Lage returns to English football having worked as Carlos Carvalhal’s assistant manager at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea.

Wolves’ recruitment process was complicated by the need to obtain a work permit for Nuno’s Portuguese compatriot as a result of a change to employment regulations after Brexit.

“I’m very happy,” Lage told the Wolves website. “It’s a big opportunity. I’m very happy, because I’ve returned to this country, and to be the manager of a big team. It’s a team and a club that wants to [create] history and a chance to compete in the Premier League. So, I’m happy, excited, with a big ambition to do great things for this club.”

The 45-year-old’s last job was at Benfica, whom he guided to the Portuguese title in 2019 with a team featuring Rúben Dias, now at Manchester City, and was voted Portugal’s manager of the year. The next season was less successful and he was replaced in June 2020 after his team endured a wretched end to the campaign and finished runners‑up to Porto.

Lage faces a difficult challenge at Molineux. Nuno was much loved by supporters, as much for the connection he developed with the local community as for the slick football that Wolves played for most of his four years in charge. Last season was the first disappointing campaign under Nuno, with Wolves finishing 13th in the Premier League, hindered by injuries to Raúl Jiménez, Jonny Castro and Pedro Neto on top of disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Nuno attempted to introduce a new style of play, saying he wished to make Wolves “more dominant” as he deviated from the template that had served him well. Sometimes Wolves looked lost last season, unsure of their identity; in other matches they were thrilling, giving cause to believe they would return to winning regularly under Nuno if their injuries relented, young players such as Neto and Fabio Silva blossomed more and the club made a few judicious signings this summer. Opinions differed within the club and it was decided a new head coach would be a surer route to progression. Lage has a lot to prove.

“I want to create a good dynamic of group, with my staff, with all the departments of the club,” said Lage. “I have tried to link all together to start to build up the new cycle. I think it’s a good opportunity to understand what Nuno did in these four years and my ambition is to continue and to improve what he did.”