This is a very uncertain time for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Being slapped 4-0 at the weekend by relegation-threatened Burnley marked one of the most embarrassing results of the season.
The ever-reliable Willy Boly was a shambles defensively as his mistake let Chris Wood in to score the Clarets’ first goal of the contest.
He failed to lead by example in the middle of the backline and it will have had Nuno Santo tearing his beard out.
This has been a testing campaign for the Portuguese boss but it’s not stopped the biggest clubs in England from courting him. Before Jose Mourinho was sacked by Tottenham, he had emerged on Daniel Levy’s radar.
As such, Wolves are pondering replacements just in case Nuno does depart Molineux in the next few months.
One of the managers the Old Gold are considering is former Benfica head coach Bruno Lage.
He left the Portuguese outfit in June 2020 after winning an impressive 67% of his games as he led a victorious Primeira Division triumph the previous season.
Though, one of his best accomplishments was the way he brought through some of the club’s academy graduates.
Joao Felix rose to prominence under Lage before he earned a massive £113m move to Atletico Madrid.
The 44-year-old also helped to make Ruben Dias the player he is today by installing him as one of the first names on the team sheet.
Dias played 70 games under Lage, making the ex-Benfica general the manager to have used him the most frequently in his career so far.
Lage has to be applauded for the way he brought these players through as the centre-back later became Benfica captain and moved to Manchester City for £62m.
But why does this have any relevance to Wolves? Well, Dias was previously linked with a switch to Molineux while they have a fine crop of young players coming through themselves.
One of the best happens to be a centre-back in the mould of Dias; Christian Marques.
The 18-year-old is the most expensive player in the history of Wolves’ academy and he’s already skippered the club at U18 and U23 level.
A natural-born leader, he’s been crafted to play in the Conor Coady role at Molineux. Adept at playing out from the back and strong-willed, there is plenty to his game.
When he was first scouted, Harry Hooman – now Wolves’ head of UK academy recruitment – described Marques as “outstanding.”
Though, just like Dias, he has taken to English football like a duck to water. He may not have earned a first-team appearance yet but it surely won’t be too far away. After all, those in the senior team shipped four goals on Sunday lunchtime.
Speaking to The Athletic, Wolves’ elite player development coach, Darren Ryan, said: “It’s rare for a youngster coming from another country to show such leadership.”
Indeed, that set of quotes could quite easily describe Dias as well.
It may not take the arrival of Lage to craft Marques into an elite level centre-back but judging by his work in Portugal, it would certainly be beneficial if he arrived.
That’s no disrespect to Nuno because he’s influenced the likes of Pedro Neto, Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves astutely throughout his time in the Midlands.
Lage, however, could just take them all to the next level.