Wolves sack Bruno Lage after slipping into the drop zone with West Ham defeat

Wolves have sacked Bruno Lage as head coach after a dismal start to the season saw the club slip into the Premier League relegation zone. The club’s owners, Fosun, decided to act after Saturday’s defeat at West Ham and extended their poor form to a win in 15 games, a streak that dates back to April.

Wolves have probed former Olympiakos coach Pedro Martins and are expected to hold further talks this week. The Portuguese, who has won three Greek league titles and faced Wolves in the 2019/20 Europa League, is a strong contender and is keen to work in the Premier League. Wolves had previously considered Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui and may rekindle their interest in the former Spain boss.

Lage took charge in June 2021, but he and his backroom staff were fired on Sunday after talks with Wolves chairman Jeff Shi. Last season ended badly with Wolves finishing 10th and missing out on a chance to qualify for European football, and Lage’s failure to provide any boost this season resulted in his exit. Wolves backed Lage with more than £100m for summer signings but a series of alarming displays turned fans against him and prompted the club to act quickly. Lage was able to shape his squad early in the season and make big decisions, changing the formation to a four-man defence, which resulted in captain Conor Coady leaving for Everton – decisions that backfired .

Fosun had hoped to see a return on his hefty investment, including a club-record £38million outlay for Sporting’s Matheus Nunes, but signings have struggled and goals have been a big problem as Wolves have managed just three in eight games.

Lage regretted that striker Sasa Kalajdzic, a £15million summer signing from Stuttgart, picked up a serious knee injury on his debut last month.

Wolves are working to appoint Lage’s replacement and while nothing is imminent, they are hoping to have a new manager in the dugout for Saturday’s trip to Chelsea. Lage succeeded Nuno Espírito Santo, with both Gestifute agency clients managed by Jorge Mendes, who represents several Wolves players including £27.5m summer signing Gonçalo Guedes, who remains without a goal.

Steve Davis, former Crewe and Leyton Orient manager and now Wolves U21 manager, and James Collins, U18 manager, will meanwhile train ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. Lage’s officials, including his brother and assistant coach Luis Nascimento, have also left.

Lage was disappointed that Wolves failed to sign a centre-back and striker before the transfer deadline, but Diego Costa arrived on a free transfer and made his debut as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat at the London Stadium.

Jarrod Bowen celebrates West Ham's second goal
Jarrod Bowen celebrates as Wolves’ defense are powerless after West Ham’s second goal in Bruno Lage’s last game in charge. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Lage pointed to Costa’s performance and lack of strikers as mitigation for his side’s poor form. “Strikers are important, not just for my team,” said Lage on Saturday.

“Other teams, the goals come from where – 60%-70% of the goals come from where? We will keep working hard but we are very different when we have a striker in our team. If we started with a striker in the first eleven, we didn’t lose in the Premier League. That’s not an excuse, it’s a fact.”

Shi said the wolves had “no choice but to act.” The chairman said: “Bruno is an excellent coach, a hardworking and dedicated manager and a warm, wise and honest man. It has been a pleasure working with him and his staff throughout their time at Wolves, so it is with great sadness that we have to make a difficult decision. I honestly have no doubts about Bruno’s ability and I’m sure he will find success elsewhere, but the team’s form and performances over the past few months mean we have no choice but to act.

“On behalf of everyone at Wolves I would like to express our gratitude to Bruno and his coaching staff for all their efforts during their time at the club and wish them the very best for the future.”

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