Bruno Lage not yet dreaming of Champions League football at Wolves
Wolves boss Bruno Lage won’t allow himself to dream of Champions League football just yet – as he knows any manager only has a few poor results after being sacked.
Lage takes his side to Arsenal on Thursday night within striking distance of the front four after a run of six wins in the last eight league games.
Wolves could move just three points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, and still with a game in hand, if they can register another victory at the Emirates Stadium.
Lage transformed the team from one that seemed to stagnate somewhat last season under Nuno Espirito Santo.
Yet despite all the applause, the former Portuguese Benfica boss is determined to take things one game at a time.
“I’ll tell you why – because you can be fired the next day,” Lage said of not dreaming of the Champions League.
“How many managers come, play four or five games in the Premier League and get fired? You have a contract and you can be fired the next day.
“It’s our life – even if you dream of certain things you want to do in your life, you have to go with solid things.
“I want to play the UEFA Cup and the Champions League with Wolves every year, but what I know is that I’m trying to win the next game.
“Because our life can change, just like that. Look for example Nuno, he was here with a fantastic job, went to Tottenham, was manager of the month – so what happened the next month?
“Look at what happened at Benfica; manager of the year, manager of the month in January, February, March and April, then after losing a few games I was sacked.
“That’s why whenever I have my car keys in my pocket, I just put my bags in my car and drive away.”
Lage, however, will never tell anyone on his team not to aim for the top.
“I want my players to have their own vision, especially for careers,” he said.
So don’t waste your time, every time trying to improve yourself and do things for your career and for your club.
“If I heard them talking about that (playing in the Champions League), it’s good because it’s their ambition, their job and they need to have that character.
“We have to keep working to improve, but every time we speak it’s (approximately) one game at a time – and right now it’s Arsenal, an important game for us and for them.”
Wolves were beaten 1-0 by Arsenal at Molineux earlier this month.
The Gunners held firm – despite striker Gabriel Martinelli being sent off for two bookings seconds apart – and drew criticism for the way their celebrations went off at full-time.
Lage, however, insisted, “It’s not about revenge.
“Once the game is over, it’s a handshake, congratulations to them because they won and move on. That’s the mentality.
“They did what they did, they lasted 30 minutes with 10 men, they closed their goal and they celebrated, like us. If I was in their place, I would do the same.
Wolves striker Raul Jimenez is set to return to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since fracturing his skull during a challenge with former Arsenal defender David Luiz in November 2020.
The Mexican striker spent around eight months in recovery and Lage hopes everyone can now look forward to seeing the best of him again.
“The job the club has done with Raul has been fantastic,” the Wolves boss said. “Each time, people were around him to prepare him as well as possible for (a return to) training.
“To be honest, I never speak with Raul about what happened on the pitch, but the most important thing is the character of these guys.