Bruno Lage needs to reduce Joao Moutinho's minutes for Wolves
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Bruno Lage needs to reduce Joao Moutinho's minutes for Wolves

Wolves manager Bruno Lage should give serious consideration to reducing Joao Moutinho’s minutes moving forwards.

It has been a poor start to the new season, with Wanderers picking up just six points from their first seven Premier League games.

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The team have scored just three goals, and are statistically one of the least clinical sides in Europe at the moment.

The manager changed the formation ahead of the new campaign, doing away with the three-man defence with wing-backs.

It was a risk to do that, but it is something he actually wanted to do when he first arrived at the club.

So far, we’ve seen Lage largely utilise the 4-3-3 formation.

The three in midfield have mainly been Ruben Neves, Matheus Nunes and Moutinho.

Neves has, predictably, been superb.

Nunes is still finding his feet as he adapts to the English game. But there has been a lot to like about him so far and it’s clear he’s going to be very important moving forwards.

Photo by Harriet Lander – WWFC/Wolverhampton Wanderers FC via Getty Images

But Moutinho has not really been able to exert the same kind of influence as he did last season and in his first couple of campaigns at Molineux.

The £5 million veteran turned 36 earlier this month, and it does feel as though his age is starting to catch up with him a little.

Despite this, he remains a firm favourite with Lage, who has handed him 90 minutes in each of the last four Premier League games. Moutinho also played the full game against Preston North End in the Carabao Cup.

This is surely too big a workload for a 36-year-old, as fit as he is.

Joao Moutinho needs to feature less and Lage must deploy 4-2-3-1

When Wolves signed Nunes, it was felt by many that he would come into the starting XI ahead of Moutinho, not as well as. That Moutinho would still have an important role to play this season, but he would be on the bench much more than 2021/22.

But so far he’s featured prominently, and it’s hard to make a case for him remaining in the team and Wolves playing a 4-3-3.

The 4-2-3-1 has looked better, with Daniel Podence operating as a number 10.

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Taking Moutinho out would also potentially see Nunes be less inclined to move out wide, as we have seen him do a number of times so far. He has sort of adopted the same role as Leander Dendoncker did last term.

At Sporting he was superb in a midfield two and perhaps it would be best to just have Nunes and Neves as a pairing.

Moutinho has been far from poor. But he is just lacking influence at the moment, and Lage may be making a mistake continually persisting with him.