PRESS | Carvalhal and Hunt on rivalry, revenge and respect

PRESS | Carvalhal and Hunt on rivalry, revenge and respect

Forget long-standing local rivalries. If any team has the right to mutter profanities at the mention of SWFC it has to be Saturday’s visitors from the South Coast.

Missing out on automatic promotion by one goal, the Seagulls then saw a return to the Premiership via Wembley snatched from their grasp with a play off semi-final defeat to the Owls. Poor Brighton.

The two teams met four times last season, with Wednesday edging the stats by chalking up one victory: The semi-final leg at Hillsborough. The floodlights supplemented by thousands of mobile phones twinkling in the night air. The roar when the Owls scored one, then another.

Unsurprisingly, given the drama of those clashes today’s press conference focused on prising reminiscences from Jack Hunt and Carlos Carvalhal.


Turning point?


The coach believes the home leg was a turning point for those fans who doubted whether Wednesday really could be on their way back,

“It was fantastic…On that day the fans showed everybody how much importance they have to the team and the impact they can have on the pitch.”

Hunt agrees the atmosphere was right up there as players and fans alike grew in belief that Wembley was just one match away. But like his boss, he won’t entertain any talk of a Wembley hangover. Falling short just 90 minutes away from the Premier League was “very disappointing” but, on reflection a decent outcome. Now to build on that.


Talking points


The size of the squad is a conversation that won’t go away. Hunt sees it as “two strong elevens”, depending on the tactics his manager wants to employ.

Another talking point that had been getting a bit monotonous was Wednesday’s winless streak away from home. Following Tuesday’s three points at Ewood Park we can give that one a rest. Arguably the win was cemented by Carvalhal’s ability to switch players. According to Hunt, “He got his tactics bang on” by changing to a less expansive formation. Making four changes to the starting line-up following Saturday’s win also demonstrates the options available with that big squad at his disposal.

Hunt himself hasn’t been an ever-present this season. Is that tactical? He is refreshingly honest, saying it’s more to do with him not being at his best. Carvalhal took him to one side after the Leeds match to analyse his confidence and fitness levels. It’s a conversation he describes as “keeping him on his toes”. A “wake up call” that seems to have done the trick.

The full back is now not only enjoying his battle with Liam Palmer for inclusion on the team sheet but says they are learning from each other while they fight it out. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to play every game but the manager has got to make those decisions.”

He would “like to cause the opposition more problems” and start notching up assists. The assembled press cruelly reminded him his last goal was four years ago. On the other hand, it was his assist that led to Wallace’s equaliser at the Amex in May.

Yes, we’re back to Brighton and that semi-final.

Ross Wallace restores the two-goal cushion

Ross Wallace restores the two-goal cushion



After what we did to them last season, Brighton must surely be out to settle the score? The answer to that depends on who you ask. Hunt believes “they will definitely be coming for revenge.” His manager on the other hand says he doesn’t “believe too much in revenge in football…they will try to do their best.”

Both agree that having played the Seagulls four times last year without loss, confidence will be high. Carlos wouldn’t be drawn on the strengths of danger man Anthony Knockaert, possibly mindful that praising an opponent’s player can be twisted into talk of unsettling and tapping up. Hunt had no such qualms, relishing the opportunity to mark Brighton’s midfielder and describing him as “a massive player” for the club.

Jack Hunt: Eager to play

Jack Hunt: Eager to play



Carvalhal and Chris Hughton approached last season’s league encounters like two grand masters of chess. The result was stalemate home and away. Will Saturday’s match follow the play-off or the league pattern?

The goalless draw at Hillsborough last November knocked Brighton of the top spot they’d occupied since August. At kick off on Saturday, Brighton will lie 4th, with Wednesday just one point and 4 places behind them. Carvalhal is quick to point out the goals for and against column. Both teams have scored 12, but Brighton have only let in 6 against Wednesday’s 12. With his forensic approach to preparation, you can expect the boss will have analysed Brighton’s defence and what might be the best way to break them down. The flip side is that Hughton will likewise be drilling into any weaknesses in Wednesday’s tactics and players.

As Hunt says, going into the international break with 4 wins from 6 is promotion form. “5 out of 6 would be a lot sweeter.”


Familiarity breeds respect


One thing’s for sure, the coaches know each other’s tactics inside out. Carvalhal openly respects his counterpart and relishes the challenge of trying to outwit him,

“[Hughton] deserved absolutely to win the best coach of the competition last season. He’s a gentleman; he’s one person that I really like personally. As a coach I recognise the organisation that he puts on the team. Tomorrow’s game will be very interesting.”

Sadly this week’s revelations of corruption weren’t really a surprise to many. Inevitably, Carlos was asked for a reaction. He replied, “It is not my football. My football is players and fans and trying to prepare my teams.”

Whatever else happens, it will be refreshing to see two teams led out by managers who convey integrity and a genuine love of the game.
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Images: SWFC

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