The Express & Star had exclusive access to a training session at the club’s camp near Benidorm, Spain and watched as Bruno Lage and his coaching staff worked with the squad on building attacking phases of play.
Lage likes to replicate game-like scenarios and in this session the squad, split into two teams, were taking it in turns to start with the ball from defense and quickly move it through the final third and create an opportunity on goal.
Watching from the sidelines, there were a handful of remarkable tactical decisions to give fans an insight into how Wolves may line up on the opening day of the Premier League season – away at Leeds – in just under three weeks.
Throughout pre-season Wolves have consistently played in four-at-the-back formations – which may be music to the ears of some supporters.
They have previously used 4-3-3 and during the session that the Express & Star attended, they lined up in a 4-2-3-1.
Firstly, Morgan Gibbs-White’s positioning was interesting. His versatility of him means he could provide a midfield option, if he stays with the club, but throughout this training drill he played on the right wing.
He started by hugging the touchline and providing an easy passing option, before coming inside and allowing Jonny Castro Otto to overlap from right-back, who was playing exceptionally far forward.
It suited Gibbs-White, who was given some freedom to find space and link with those around him, including Daniel Podence who played behind the striker.
Wolves played with four-at-the-back last summer in pre-season before spending the entire Premier League campaign with a back five. Lage may revert back come August, but it is interesting to see the squad spending so much time perfecting a different system.
Getting a first look at new signing Nathan Collins, the centre-back impressed.
At 6ft 4ins he adds height to the squad and his commanding frame meant he looked comfortable playing as the right-sided centre-back.
For someone who is supposedly a bit quieter off the pitch, he is a good communicator on it. With a view of the pitch in front of him that role is important and he constantly spoke to the midfielders in front of him and the full-back next to him, organizing the shape and helping spring attacks.
He is quite similar to Max Kilman, too, as he was impressed on the ball. He is comfortable with it and did well under pressure.
He perfectly fits the mold for what Lage wants from a defender. Tall, strong, fast and technically gifted – no wonder they spent £20.5million on him.
One thing is for certain – Lage is pushing his squad to their limits.
In the soaring heat the players are doing two sessions a day and have already endured a few painful running drills.
What stood out in training is how hands-on Lage is. In the game-like attacking scenarios he charged around the pitch pressing his midfielders and defenders when they had the ball to put them under as much pressure as possible.
He even had his coach Carlos Cachada pressing too, to make it as realistic as they could.
Lage throws everything into training – body and soul – to get his players ready. It was impressive to see him at work and the detail he goes into.