BLOG | Will the real Carlos please stand up?

BLOG | Will the real Carlos please stand up?

“It is important for our supporters that they watch their team play attractive, aggressive and entertaining football.

Carlos buys in completely to this philosophy and I am confident that his experience, knowledge and ability will herald the start of a successful new era for Sheffield Wednesday.”

The statement above was made by Mr Chansiri in June of 2015 when confirming Carlos as manager.

Now contrast that with the statement below made by Carlos after our game against Reading last weekend.

“We put out a team that was good and competent. Our plan was to try to block Reading’s game in the first half and, in the second half try to win the match.

“We did what we had to do – we blocked Reading’s dynamic – and the game was very tactical.

“In the second half, we had our chances in two or three situations. We were more of a threat to them then.”

There is a massive contrast between the two statements. One talks about attractive, entertaining football while the other talks about trying to block the other team.

There is no doubt that over the past two and a half seasons while Carlos has been in charge there has been a lot of goals and excitement at the club, but there can also be no doubt that under Carlos we have gradually seen a duller, less entertaining style of play.

I am not one of those fans that expects us to win every time we play, I like to think of myself as a realist.

I have watched our beloved Wednesday for 30 years, so have seen some great times with Waddle, Hirst and co and then have seen some terrible times with Beswetherwick, Dean Smith and others.

We have come a long way and these past three seasons have all started with excitement that I haven’t felt since I was a kid.

What changed?

The first season that Carlos was in charge, it was like a dream, we were the outsiders, no one expected us to challenge for the plays offs yet we did and we made the final.

We got there (admittedly after a slow start) through playing vibrant attacking football.

The interplay between our midfielders with little triangles on the byline was exciting and we left defenders bamboozled.

Every month it seemed like we were going to win goal of the month, players were taking shots from all over the place and they were going in!

Halcyon days

That season filled me with hope again and it was like a re-birth of my passion of being a Wednesday fan. The excitement of being a kid came back and even if we were playing badly there was a feeling we would score, no matter what we would score.

Contrast that feeling to this season, in the whole month of November we had five shots. Just to reiterate that’s five shots.

In the 15/16 season we scored six goals in the month of November, so there was definitely a lot more shots than five. This season it has seemed as though we have gone backwards, we have an enviable front line with strikers brought in on big wages and big transfers yet we are having fewer shots this season, let alone goals.

In Carlos’s first season in charge we had a goals per game ratio of 1.4 which dipped to 1.3 in 2016/17 and this season is currently on 1.2.

Another worrying aspect of our play is our defence which for the last two seasons has been 0.9 goals conceded per game and this season has increased to 1.1 per game.

Mounting pressure?

So what’s going on?

Who’s to blame?

The first season we started each game slow but then came out the blocks after half time and really attacked sides.

Last season Carlos said he wanted to make sure we didn’t concede as many goals and finish higher. It was a fair point and we as fans accepted it, at times we felt we could have pushed forward more but we finished in the play offs and felt confident about beating Huddersfield.

What happened in those games unfortunately was a warning of what was to come.

The games against Huddersfield and subsequently most of the games this season have been dire. We have been devoid of ideas and low on confidence.

Transfers have hardly worked out and now we are told by Carlos we need to be patient.

The stress on Carlos is clear to see from his famous £20 note press conference to his arguing and fighting with a steward at Bolton.

So, which is the real Carlos Carvarhal? Is it the first season wonder worker who played expansive, attractive football or is it the pragmatic, settle for a draw manager who went to Huddersfield for a 0-0 and who set us up to block Reading’s play even though they were there for the taking and have conceded as many as they have scored so far this season.

Is the stress all getting too much?

“Still twenty pounds?”

There is an argument that teams have figured us out, as Bristol City changed their tactic to force us back.

But the job of the manager is to have more than one plan. There has been a constant stream of players coming in who either haven’t improved the team or haven’t been given a chance, see Almen Abdi for the latter.

Everything about the club and the style of play is far too predictable at the moment and this is something that begins with the manager.

Wherefore art thou, Carlos?

Where has the Carlos of the first season gone, his message before the play off final gave me goosebumps.

It made me believe and I’m sure it made the players believe. Influential players like Hutch and Bannan have said what a positive impact Carlos has had on them yet the performances this season tell a different story.

The players don’t choose the tactics and if they did then I would like to think they would do something more exciting than the continual passing along the back four, so the changes must come from the top.

It is obvious to anyone watching that our midfield sit too deep and then there is a massive gap between attack and midfield, Bannan in particular needs to be higher up the pitch.

Needs to be more influential at the top end

We are slow to attack and invite pressure onto us which when it comes we can’t deal with. We had a good partnership forming with Hooper and Fletcher then Fletcher was dropped in favour of Rhodes and we have resulted in playing long balls up to Rhodes who doesn’t win the ball and we invite more pressure on ourselves.

This becomes a continual cycle that the fans are quite frankly bored of watching.

Our first season of keeping the ball but slightly higher up the pitch invited more pressure which we then used to create space behind and attacked with fervour and desire.

Our transitions were quicker and this resulted in more chances and more goals. At the moment everything is too slow and predictable and leaves everyone frustrated.

We have a massive squad that could be put to use in a number of different formations, I would like to see us use a 3-5-2 with Hunt and Reach as wing backs, giving us more numbers in midfield where we are continually overrun.

Yet CC has said we will always play 4-4-2.

There are many different things I could mention that make me question Carlos, but the main one is the stark contrast between the coach who would prefer to win 5-4 and a complete philosophy of attack, to the one who sets out to block an opponent and thinks a month of 5 shots is good progress.

It’s like we have had two separate coaches with two opposing ideologies in the space of 2 ½ seasons when we have had the same man in charge.

So would the real Carlos Carvalhal please stand up and I hope for Owls fans everywhere that it’s the dream maker of two seasons ago.

Nathan A
Owls Alive
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @banterclause

Images: SWFC, unless stated. Line up images: Getty.

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