Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City - Premier League

Daniel Podence false nine experiment needs to stop at Wolves

Bruno Lage yesterday deployed Daniel Podence through the middle against Manchester City – and it should be the last time he makes such a call.

Wolves were missing Raul Jimenez and new signing Sasa Kalajdzic through injury.

Photo by Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolverhampton Wanderers FC via Getty Images

And Diego Costa was not a part of the matchday squad, as he bids to bring his fitness up to scratch after signing as a free agent.

So Lage had to once again use a wide forward to lead the line.

He went with Podence, which he also did in the game against Tottenham Hotspur in August.

Eyebrows were raised as it became apparent Podence was playing centrally, given he wasn’t particularly effective there against Spurs.

And it was the same story against City.

Granted, he was always going to struggle after Wolves went down to 10 men.

Photo by Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolverhampton Wanderers FC via Getty Images

But it just seemed a very odd decision by Lage.

Podence is obviously one of the shortest players in the entire Premier League, and he was going up against two very physically strong defenders in Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji, who are 6ft 1in and 6ft 2in respectively.

According to Sofascore data, he contested three aerial duels in yesterday’s game, and unsurprisingly won zero. He also won just one of three ground duels.

And of the starting Wolves players, he was the least involved with just 26 touches.

Arguably, he was completely misused. He should have been operating on the left with Goncalo Guedes – a player who has actually played through the middle many times previously for Valencia – central.

Daniel Podence needs to be out wide or at number 10 for Wolves and not at false nine

Podence is perhaps Wolves’ most creative player.

He is a wonderful technician with tremendous vision and an eye for a trick.

We have seen him in the false nine role a few times now and it just doesn’t suit him.

He is at his best when he is a bit further back in between the lines, or coming in from the left.

Photo by Harriet Lander – WWFC/

He was absolutely superb against Southampton when he was playing from the left, and really, he ought to have played in that position again against City.

Thankfully, Costa is likely to be up to speed after the international break. And Jimenez could also be back fit again. So Podence leading the line will hopefully become something we don’t see again.