PRESS | Hutchinson and Carvalhal look to Blackburn

PRESS | Hutchinson and Carvalhal look to Blackburn

Sam Hutchinson was back on media duty today, giving a pretty laid back overview of the season so far.

Following his “the team are trying to kill me” remarks after another last minute winner on Saturday, Carlos entered the room with a comedy routine of checking his pulse and blood pressure.

But the boss was calm, collected and thoughtful in his analysis of the weekend’s win and Tuesday night’s prospects.

Well, apart from the bit where he said, “This is football. We go to hell and go to heaven in a few days.”

 

Healthy competition

 

There’s been some debate from professional commentators and online pundits alike about whether Carvalhal actually knows his best team, and whether needing to please such a large squad is inhibiting the Owls’ progress.

With 26 outfielders on the books – more than 30 if players like the beleaguered Sergiu Buș are included – they might have a point.

Options all over the pitch

Options all over the pitch

Up to now, Carvalhal’s response has been that Wednesday are no different to any other team with promotion aspirations. There are at least two players competing for each position.

This gives the manager options not only to change tactics but also to rest anyone not quite fit and ready for a Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday fixture list.

Both Hutchinson and his boss were able to cast a little light today on the process of managing the “marathon” (Carlos’ word) of the Championship season. It’s not all about rotation.

Back in August, Hutchinson talked about the season being “a slog” because of the number and frequency of games.

With eight starts and seven finishes under his belt to date, Hutch is already almost half way to his 2015/16 tally of 19 full appearances.

Of course it would have been eight finishes had it not been for the sending off against Bristol City. While that clearly hurt very much at the time (the tunnel took a battering as he left the pitch), he’s now able to laugh it off as “maybe it was a blessing in disguise, maybe I needed a rest.”

There’s a serious point in there.

 

Hutchinson and managing bodies

Hutchinson has matured in his new role

Hutchinson has matured in his new role

 

While Hutchinson had a run of games last year in his defensive midfield role, he hasn’t played this many 90 minutes “since forever.” The difference is the change of role.

“The gaffer said in the first 10 minutes of pre-season that I’d be a centre half so I knew what was coming… it’s just about managing me.”

For a player who describes himself as “running about like a lunatic” last year, he is enjoying the challenge of playing with more control and maturity.

To be fair to him, his midfield task had been to break up play. And that’s what he did.

This season Carvalhal has dealt a different hand, relying more on Bannan and Lee to regain possession when moves break down. Sam would be the first to admit their chasing back and tackling is generally a bit less gung-ho than his.

In the central defensive role against Forest, Hutchinson carried the ball forward more than we’ve seen him so far this season.

Did that come from the manager or was he responding to what he saw on the pitch?

The answer is, a bit of both. Carlos wants that from him in certain games if spaces open up, as on Saturday. So we haven’t seen the end of his marauding runs just yet.

 

Forward thinking

 

With our number 23 in the room, the focus was inevitably on defence.

But when asked about the growing partnership between Hooper and Fletcher, Carvalhal was quick to speak up for his strikers. His responses to questions about individuals are an insight to how he manages the temperaments, energy levels and egos of the squad.

Fletcher in action

Fletcher in action

The boss simply wouldn’t comment on the duo without immediately stressing the importance of his other options.

“Hooper and Fletcher is good, like Fletcher and Forestieri, like Nuhiu with all of them, like Lucas with all of them.”

He praised Fletcher and João for influencing the result against Norwich by digging in as the first line of defence. He pointed out that Nuhiu had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes against Forest when he won the first ball for the winning goal.

You certainly don’t get the impression he is looking for a one and only strike partnership to emerge from the players at his disposal. Not in public, anyway. And you get some idea of why, in Hutchinson’s words, “the players love him.”

 

Tuesday

 

Blackburn Rovers have scored six in their last two league games. Wednesday haven’t kept a clean sheet since the Norwich draw.

Joao rescues a point at Ewood last season

Joao rescues a point at Ewood last season

So, what are the odds on Tuesday’s trip to Ewood Park presenting the Owls with their first away win since the beginning of April?

Stop! Carvalhal is not happy at talk of the winless streak starting last season; he stresses the Derby and Wolves results were heavily influenced by preparing for the play offs rather than needing to win.

If we’re going to talk about away form we need to start in 2016/17…

He and Hutchinson agree that the first away win isn’t as important to them as it might be to fans and pundits.

Their case goes that in terms of chances and possession all but one of this season’s away games should have been won, although I’m not sure I believe them.

The one that got away – as in the one we deserved to lose – was the defeat at Burton. “With the exception of Burton we are going the right way.”

And the right way to play Blackburn, he believes, is not to change Wednesday’s style but to learn from previous mistakes – hold the ball up, know when to slow the game down, and stay compact. That way the points will come.

He says he’d prefer to be playing the Rovers side that started the season rather than the newly invigorated version that lifted themselves out of the bottom three with two wins on the trot, including victory against Derby on Saturday.

 

 

Perspective?

 

It will be a tough game for both sides.

Going back to the squad issue, with Bannan, Jones and Pudil doubtful, and João still side-lined we may be feeling the benefit of that hefty wage bill on Tuesday evening.

Owls in heaven

Owls in heaven

Win, lose or draw. the important thing is to maintain perspective. Most of the time Carlos is big on balance: don’t get too excited about the good things, don’t feel too pressured when things go wrong.

We know when you’ve been in hell for 90 minutes, heaven is last gasp winner. He’d prefer to win with a bit less drama but his eyes tell you the confidence, strength and happiness, the emotional and memorable moments triggered against Bristol City and Forest have a positive effect on everyone.

“95% of people who left early against Bristol and Nottingham will be in the stadium next time. Those moments make players, everyone believe.”

I’m not sure anything would stop the bloke in front of us getting up on 85 minutes to catch his bus home, but I know where Carlos is coming from.

A point or three from Blackburn might nudge some doubting Thomases towards believing that little bit more. As long as they don’t miss the bus.

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE

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Angela

Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @ABGalvin

Images: SWFC


One Comment

  1. Another great Wednesday analysis from the well informed footballing maestro

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