Bruno Lage brought Jose Sa in during the summer to replace Rui Patricio on goal for Wolves.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Lage says Sa makes a real difference to the way his side are able to defend.
Sa is more proactive than Patricio, and therefore more adept at sweeping up behind a high line.
“In the same way that our striker is important for our defending, our goalkeeper is important to start the game from the back,” he said. “This is one of the things that I talk about with Conor Coady and the boys.
“When you want the game to be compact between the lines, the goalkeeper should be able to follow that line to fill that gap. If the goalkeeper stays in the goal, the gap is bigger than if he follows the defenders.
“But if the goalkeeper can be in a higher position, the defenders can be in a higher position too so the spaces between are still small. If the ball goes forward from the opponent high with speed, we have our goalkeeper there to win it.
“If the ball goes high but slower, we have our defenders there to win it. When we look at what Jose is doing, we cannot forget what Rui did for the club but I knew Jose from Benfica.
“He never worked with me but I knew his value.”
The switch between Patricio and Sa reflects the change Lage is trying to make from Nuno Espirito Santo’s style of play.
Portuguese goalkeeper to Portuguese goalkeeper; Portuguese manager to Portuguese manager. Many people outside may not notice the difference.
But Lage is trying to get Wolves to press more and play higher up the pitch. Nuno’s style was all about sitting back and countering and a goalkeeper like Patricio who likes to stay close to his line was ideal for that.
Sa is comfortable racing off his line to ensure the backline can press without as much fear of the ball in behind.
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