Wolves are eighth in the Premier League at the time of speaking, just seven points off the top four with 19 games played. What have you been doing these past few months?
It’s easy for me to say because I’m there every day, but I think nationally they went unnoticed. Few people talk about it and few know who is responsible; they just quietly went about their business and, for the most part, built on the foundations that were put in place almost five years ago now under Nuno, when they switched to 3-4-3. Of the back three this season, Conor Coady and Romain Saiss were there even before Nuno’s time, while Max Kilman has been there for a few years alongside them. So although there is a new manager and some new faces, it’s the same system and mostly the same players from last season and in some cases the season before. Bruno Lage tried to introduce a new style of play at the start of the season when Wolves were very intense, playing with a higher line and high pressure too and they looked great doing it – after three games , only Man City had taken more shots, but they didn’t score a single goal. Lage realized there was no point in pushing hard if they weren’t going to score, so for now let’s get some points on the board, do what we know and get some results – and that’s exactly what that happened. In the last few weeks especially, it hasn’t been exciting and there haven’t been many goals from either side in their last games. However, they are getting results and for Lage to recognize what this team needed and what their strengths were is pretty smart management.
Given that a goal, in general, is worth a point, are you surprised where they are in the table, are you somehow surprised Wolves are where they’ve only scored 14 goals?
I’m surprised they’ve only scored 14 goals at this stage because it’s really unusual to score 14 in 19 games and be as high as them, but I’m not surprised they be eighth in the table overall because of the quality they have in the team; most of that team finished seventh two years in a row. They had a blow last season and there were so many reasons for that – Raul Jimenez’s absence being one of them, Covid was a major disruption and they had a horrific injury crisis – but, in general, this team of players is full of quality. You look at someone like Adama Traore, who hasn’t even been in the first team for the past few weeks, or Leander Dendoncker, who is in the Belgium squad. Lage being such an unknown quantity when he arrived, most fans were just hoping to improve from last season and look to the future, so moving up from 13and in eighth place and to beat Man United, to draw with Chelsea and to be so close to a draw with Liverpool and Man City, they definitely did better than people expected, even inside the club .
So far this month, the club have signed Japanese midfielder Hayao Kawabe from the Grasshoppers. Do you expect more business before the end of the transfer window?
Wolves have publicly declared that it will be a quiet month. They may be looking to get a loan or two as they are really short on central defense – Saiss is at AFCON with Morocco and Willy Boly is injured – so they only have two recognized senior centre-halves. There are a few games they would like to complete but in terms of spending and buying players, it probably depends on sales and Traore’s future is the main talking point this month. He has only 18 months left on his contract, there is no immediate prospect of him signing a new contract and Spurs are certainly interested in signing him, so if they get a decent amount of money for him, I’m sure some of that will get him invested back into the team, but if not, it’s probably going to be a quiet month.
Which player should Brentford fans watch this Saturday?
Given his recent form, I think Daniel Podence is one to watch. He’s been flying under the radar to some extent, with most of the attention last season on Pedro Neto. He’s been at the club for two years now and that time has been cut short by injuries, form and struggling to break into the team as well, but he’s probably in the best form of his Wolves career at the moment and was superb in recent games against Chelsea and Man United. He’s right-handed but will likely play on the left and with the damage he can cause between the lines with his technique, pace and vision, he’s probably the biggest threat at the moment.
How is Bruno Lage likely to settle his side at Brentford Community Stadium?
He’s gone 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 every game this season. I think in the long run he probably wants to move to a back four and play a high line, but for now, like I said, he’s playing to the strengths of the team. A 3-4-3 is the way they like to go most of the time, with two forwards either side of Jimenez, a few attacking wingers, and then Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves tend to dictate play down the middle. They have this phenomenal defensive record, so they will definitely be tough to beat.
Brentford won the last game 2-0 in September, but what’s your score prediction for this one?
With Wolves’ defensive record, I’m going to have to predict that they won’t concede and given their lack of goals, maybe they won’t score either! I’m sure you don’t get many 0-0 predictions, but that’s what I’m looking for!
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