Replacing Nuno Espírito Santo at Wolverhampton Wanderers was never going to be easy, considering the brilliant job he did during his time at the club. However while Wolves were always resolute defensively under Santo, they often came under-fire for their lack of threat in the final third.
Since coming to the club, Bruno Lage has tweaked the style of play without changing the formation the players have become accustomed to over the last few years. And by doing this, Wolves are not finally able to play on the front foot in games and dominate matches – a welcome change at the Molineux.
The first few games of Lage’s tenure saw the seedling of this changes, but while Wolves would usually be the better side, create more chances, they’d still end up leaving empty-handed.
In fact, after the first three Premier League games, Wolves had the highest xG (4.3) but had zero goals to show for it, leading some to dub them the new Brighton.
Recent performances have been equally exciting but this time with a key difference: goals are being scored scored, and points are being put on the table.
The loan signing of Hwang Hee-chan has proven to be a key reason for this. His brace gave his side all three points against Newcastle and proved he can form a deadly partnership up top with Raul Jimenez.
And while Pedro Neto is still out injured, Lage still has plenty of creative options to choose from that can create chances for the pair: Adama Traore, Francisco Trincao, and Daniel Podence.
Podence came off the bench against Aston Villa, contributing with an assist, proving to be a vital asset for Lage. Another vital asset is Adama – who’ll probably not be joining Podence on the bench any time soon.
His performance against Villa was again another showcase of how threatening and direct his style of play is. Defenders have no clue how they should approach playing against him, and the sight of him running at defenders gets you on the edge of your seat.
The greatest criticism of him has always been his final ball, and yet another weekend did go by with Wolves fans saying he should have been on the scoresheet. If Lage can help unlock Traore’s potential in front of goal, he will be a deadly proposition.
Scoring three goals today, albeit one coming from a deflection, will please Bruno Lage. His centre-backs coming up with the goods is also something to take as a positive, with the more goals shared around the better.
Wolves will now look to build on this good spell in front of goal, and make sure they hold onto their ability to outscore teams. It is fair to say if they can build consistency in regard to taking their chances, they could be this campaign’s surprise package.