We are now three games into the Bruno Lage era at Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Midlands outfit are still yet to find the back of the net. Despite some encouraging performances, Wolves find themselves rooted to 18th in the table, perilously swinging in the relegation zone — but still at a very early stage in the season.
The opening day was full of chances away to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, but each one was squandered. They then faced former manager Nuno Espírito Santo’s Tottenham Hotspur at Molineux and came up short, before a late strike from Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood confirmed they would lose all three of their opening games 1-0. Although Lage’s style of play is slowly being implemented, the Premier League is simply too ruthless to afford teams time to adjust and if they don’t pick up the pace soon, they will be swept aside and left in a relegation dogfight.
Injuries have massively plagued Wolves over the last twelve months. After losing star striker Raúl Jiménez with a fractured skull, a player who has scored a respectable 34 Premier League goals since his arrival from Benfica was made permanent following a successful loan, other players have been left to pick up the pieces and they simply haven’t been able to match the Mexican’s productivity.
Patrick Cutrone was recalled from his loan in Italy last season but has gone back to his homeland over the summer, now plying his trade for Empoli, whilst Fabio Silva has undeniable talent, but it is still raw and unearthed, lacking the devastation and reliability needed to be a top forward for the time being. This has once again led to Jiménez being the main source of goals.
While Lage has had opportunities to strengthen over the summer, bringing in Francisco Trincão on loan from Barcelona as his main signing, you feel there are attacking gaps in the side that need to be plugged urgently. Their midfield is getting older, with João Moutinho turning 35 and while their starting line up is an established Premier League outfit, you wonder how much longer they can stick together before they are picked apart by injuries and departures. Regardless, Lage has this side until January and before then has big games coming up in which to end their perilous run in-front of goal.
Wolves face newly promoted sides Watford and Brentford back-to-back, fixtures which they come in as favourites on the Bet exchange to win. However, the latter are unbeaten under Thomas Frank and will prove tough opposition. Lage can feel hard done by with the decisions that have gone against him in recent weeks, but in these next two games, they have to punish the new boys when they are dominating proceedings. They didn’t against United and were duly punished, to the frustration of Lage, who said: “VAR is there to help the referees. The referee did not see the foul. The VAR did not see the foul. For me, I just saw the leg of the player.
“If someone told me that the best way is to defend and put 10 men behind the ball every time and we would win games, for sure I would go with that idea. But I think this idea is better. The way we play, the way we create chances, I am sure the goals will come.”