PRESS | Carvalhal plays chicken

PRESS | Carvalhal plays chicken

It’s called managing expectations.

It’s the time of year when children and adults around the world are drafting their frankly unrealistic Christmas wish lists.

Back in the day, my poor mother would return from her shopping trip and run through all the things she hadn’t managed to purchase.

One gift that always made its way to us was the Shoot! annual, complete with its cardboard league tables.

In those innocent days, we would rearrange the teams in their little cut out slots every Saturday evening.

And this is where I finally get to the point.

Even the BBC Sport website can’t keep up with Wednesday’s yo-yoing in and out of the top six of late, sometimes changing position multiple times in the course of a match day.

Imagine how dog eared the Owls cardboard label would be by now.

With Newcastle and Brighton leaving us all in their trail in the automatic promotion places, shall we keep updating the table with every kick of the ball or just go with the flow and see what Santa brings?

 

The Chair, the Captain and the Coach

 

Back in March 2015 our new chairman was publicly declaring his intent to return the Owls to the premiership for our 150th anniversary.

Chansiri: impressive, again

Chansiri: wholehearted commitment

While the Premier League must still be bullet point number one in his letter to the North Pole, Mr Chansiri’s 2016 Christmas statement to the fans offered the less bullish ‘wholehearted commitment to make Sheffield Wednesday the force we know we can be in the football world’.

Consider your expectations managed.

Captain Glenn Loovens also takes a measured approach.

He spoke earlier in the season about his delayed start being due to playing through the pain barrier to get to Wembley in May.

Having made his way back from injury, Loovens’ central defensive partnership with Tom Lees seems to be in the groove. As for talk of that difficult second season, bouncing back from play-off defeat, “I think at the end of the season we’ll be there again and pushing for promotion…Sometimes they say it’s not the same as last year but if we keep working hard we will be there or thereabouts.”

Loosens: at the heart of the team

Loovens: we’re doing well

Our captain is right – it’s not quite the same as last season, for all sorts of reasons.

None greater than our heightened expectations.

It’s worth remembering that after 21 games, December 2015 saw us in ninth, firmly establishing ourselves in the top six by February.

We’re currently two places better off with 23 games to go.

One of the teams we yo-yoed in and out of the play off zone with last season was Birmingham City.

As we again wage our private promotion battle with the Blues, their decision to sack Gary Rowlett could have Carvalhal looking over his shoulder.

It’s clearly something the boss has thought about – and why not given his experience at other clubs.

CC is now not only one of the Championship’s longer serving coaches, his eighteen-month stint at Wednesday is the longest in his career. Is he feeling it?

“The most solitary people in football is the managers.

“When we win the game, everybody wins… the kit men put very well the socks and gloves, the kit men take the balls in the correct position, the physios do fantastic work, the players did fantastic, the fans are amazing, the chairman is fantastic, everything is perfect.

“When we lose, just one person is responsible. The manager… Even if one player missed three penalties or the goalkeeper gave five chickens.”

Yes, the old five chicken dilemma.

With our chairman still learning the ropes of the game in England, there’s a feeling Carlos is prepared should there be any difficult conversations: England is where Alex Ferguson was given time and led his team to glory; Since CC arrived the standard of coaching has improved at all clubs; The Championship is tremendously difficult.

And if you’re looking for a clue he’s been getting his ducks (or maybe it was those chickens) in a row, the boss has worked out the median tenure for Championship managers.

It’s just fifteen months.

The revolving door is familiar from his football life in other countries, it’s “more my natural habitat.

Because if we lose one game away and next game we lose at home, we were fired, so it was my reality all the time. It’s not strange to me.”

carlos-dec-16

Carvalhal: alert

When our coach says, “I’m alert!” it has the ring of truth.

And he reinforces his point with a little aside that new coaches probably start from minus one rather than zero, “because they don’t know the players.” Expect more of the language of evolution not revolution.

 

Saturday

 

Meanwhile in the topsy turvy world of the Championship, Saturday sees Wednesday play their second derby in a week, against another team with an interim manager.

I think that’s three new coaches we’ve faced since October, with a win, a loss and a draw.

The result against Rotherham will spoil the symmetry one way or another.

Rotherham_United_FC.svg
Will Saturday shift us a few points nearer the top two with an easy victory against the league’s strugglers-in-chief? As the boss says, “Let me know one game that even you expect will be easy.”

Looking back to last season’s visit of the Millers, 29,000 saw Wednesday pile on the pressure to no avail, with Rotherham leaving S6 one-nil to the good.

Despite various tasty elements – local rivalry, that man Warnock – there were no bookings.

That could all change this time round if we stick to our recent game plan of getting opposition strikers sent off in unusual circumstances.

Ward and Brown fighting over a Sam Hutchinson tackle, anyone?

No-one will be counting their chickens. There are five, by the way.

 

Angela


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