Wolves have appointed Bruno Lage as head coach two weeks after Nuno Espirito Santo said his goodbyes to the West Midlands.

Lage, 45, will take charge of only his second managerial stint of his career following his year and a half spell at Benfica came to an end in June 2020.

He is represented by the same agency as Espirito Santo, Gestifute, and will return to England after previously being assistant manager to Carlos Carvalhal at Swansea City and Sheffield Wednesday.


Lage has been involved in football coaching since 1997, where he coached in the youth ranks of Vitoria de Setubal.

The Portuguese coach took charge of Benfica U17s, U19s and U15s before spending two years as Head of Academy Coaching at Jordan side Al-Ahli. Following the appointment of Carvalhal at Wednesday, Lage spent two and a half seasons in the Championship before joining Carvalhal at Premier League side Swansea.

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In July 2018, Lage replaced Helder Cristovao as Benfica reserve team manager. Only a season later and he was in charge of the first team as caretaker manager when Rui Vitoria on 3 January 2019.

Following a 4-2 victory on his first game in charge against Rio Ave, As Águias went the remainder of the campaign unbeaten (19 games), drawing only one game, to lift their 37th league title. 

Lage's 94% winning percentage surpassed Jimmy Hagan's record at Benfica whilst equalling Sven-Goran Eriksson's 1990-91 of beating FC Porto, Sporting CP and Braga away from home.

The run included a 4-2 victory against rivals Sporting CP, a 10-0 win over Nacional, a 2-1 away win at FC Porto and a 4-1 win at Braga. They also reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League, defeating Galatasary and Dinamo Zagreb before eventually crashing out against German-side Eintracht Frankfurt.

In his first summer in charge, Lage brought in Raul de Tomas from Real Madrid, Julian Weigl from Borussia Dortmund, Carlos Vinicius from Napoli and Chiquinho from Moreirense. He also promoted Nuno Tavares, Tomas Tavares and Jota to the first team from the B team (All have made a combined 101 appearances for the club).

However, they lost Joao Felix (£114m to Atletico Madrid), Raul Jimenez (ironically to Wolves) and Luka Jovic (£20m to Frankfurt) in the same summer. A telling point in the poor season to come.

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Benfica started the season by thrashing Sporting CP 5-0 in the Super Cup before earning 18 victories in the opening 19 Liga NOS matches. He also made his UEFA Champions League debut, losing his first two games. 

Victories over Lyon and Zenit Saint Petersburg secured third place and qualification to the Europa League, which they were knocked out by Shakhtar Donetsk.

They suffered back-to-back defeats to Porto and Braga in February before drawing four straight games (two in March and two in June following the break-in football due to the Covid-19 pandemic).

By the end of June, Benfica had won only two league games in their previous 10 games. His contract was terminated at the club, and he was replaced by his assistant coach Nelson Verissimo.

His coaching

A key element where Lage differs from Nuno is his attacking nature of coaching. In his title-winning campaign in Portugal, Benfica scored 103 goals, 29 goals more than Porto in second.

In his 19 games in charge, his side scored 72 goals (3.78 goals per game), which included a 10-0 victory over Nacional. 

The following season, before his departure, Benfica scored a further 59 goals in 29 games. 

Looking at a number of his famous results for Benfica, Lage opted for a 4-4-1-1/4-2-2. In the 2-1 victory away from home against Porto, Joao Felix sat behind Haris Seferovic up top with Rafa Silva and Pizza patrolling the wings.

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In the 10-0 demolition against Nacional, he opted for the same style. Seferovic netted twice, Felix, Pizza and Silva all grabbed a goal whilst three of the back four (Alejandro Grimaldo, Ruben Dias and Ferro) found the net.

Following the sale of Felix, Lage opted more for a 4-4-2 with Chiquinho and Vinicius up top with Weigl and Gabriel pulling the strings.

Of course, this doesn't mean that the same system will be utilised at Molineux. But it very well could be. It's obvious so much work is needed on this current crop of Wolves players, with rumours linking Ruben Neves to Arsenal growing and Rui Patricio also linked with a move-out.

But looking at the squad, we could see it. At Benfica, Grimaldo and Andre Almeida ventured forward regularly, contributing to 30 of the side's league goals.

Jonny Otto Castro is a natural going forward, as is Rayan Ait-Nouri, whilst Nelson Semedo has been limited to the opportunities going forward since his arrival at Wolves.

Lage used one advanced midfielder, and one more defensive-minded in the middie and Wolves are equipped to follow suit. Vitinha has shown his class when given the opportunity, with either Joao Moutinho or Leander Dendoncker capable of being deployed as a ball-winning midfielder.

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With Raul Jimenez hopefully back in action next season, Fabio Silva could be used how Joao Felix was- dropping deep to join in with the play rather than having his weaker body bullied off the ball by bigger defenders.

Whatever happens, Lage will bring a breath of fresh air to Wolverhampton. It's an exciting stage in the club's history. 

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