PRESS PASS | Carlos finishes ‘rotation’ talk
With no member of the squad stepping in as warm up act, Carlos was flying solo at today’s press conference.
Although there was some speculation, mainly around how certain players might say inflammatory things about tomorrow’s opponents, no explanation was given for the change in routine.
Instead we were treated to half an hour in the psychiatrist’s chair with the man from Braga.
As usual, the first five minutes or so were taken up with questions about injuries and the starting eleven that Carlos is unable or unwilling to answer.
He says just enough not to be accused of stonewalling: Tom Lees is perhaps less likely to be ready to play on Saturday than, say, Fox.
Abdi on the other hand wasn’t injured on Tuesday but came off because he’s not quite match fit.
The cards edge yet closer to his chest when asked the seemingly innocuous question, will McManaman and Winnall start?
Pushing for a start?
“You can ask what you want but you know what I will answer. We will put the players that we understand is the best to start the game tomorrow.”
Exercising this kind of self-control over the information he reveals must be psychologically and even physically tiring.
Next comes a question about rotation that triggers a feisty response.
Starting eleven? Anyone’s guess…
The very word seems to put the head coach on edge.
“I didn’t rotate any players this season…it’s a fact.
“I’m not rotating anyone this season… I’ve not rotated… Sorry… Finish the conversation about rotation.”
The idea that he doesn’t have a clear starting eleven raises hackles.
Is there some repressed memory from his early management career? Does he associate rotation with bad coaches?
Whatever the cause, we are told at great length that changes to his starting eleven are either tactical or due to injuries.
He doesn’t rotate the squad.
In what seemed a classic case of self-fulfilling prophecy, there were moments in the first half against Brentford when we played as if resigned to losing because ‘the referee is against us.’
In fairness, Mr Bond didn’t inspire confidence but negative expectations seemed to affect the behaviour of key players in the sequence of events between Forestieri’s penalty appeal, our opponents’ first goal and the half-time whistle.
While Carlos steered clear of all matters Brentford today (having used every post-match question on Tuesday as a platform for berating the referee), he did reflect on the confidence levels of ‘one or two’ players.
“People are talking so negative about them that they have the idea that they are having a bad season.
“One of those players is involved in unbelievable things that we did this season.
“The players are emotional, they are persons.
!When they hear all the time ‘he is not doing well’, ‘he is playing bad,’ ‘he’s not doing as well as last season’… Maybe then they feel they are not doing well and they lose some confidence.”
The message boards and twitter feeds expect, let’s say Bannan, to have a bad game; the weight of that expectation affects his confidence and… The spectre of self-fulfilling prophecy again.
The satisfaction some people find in being miserable is something of an art form, or to use Carlos’ word, a ‘virus’.
How does Carvalhal respond to the fact that hours of coaching and Opta stats can be undermined by five minutes scrolling through a twitter feed where the prophets of doom give their lives meaning by venting spleen and pointing fingers of blame?
Imposing a Cheryl ‘n’ Liam style social media blackout might sort it.
But back in the real world, with all that time on their hands your average footie player is unlikely to have his apps surgically removed anytime soon.
Instead, Carlos is filling every glass within reach and telling anyone within hearing it is half full.
Reasons to be cheerful
“It’s my job to be positive…We are doing our job, we are giving confidence [to the players].
I must be positive and push my players, my team and the club in a positive way.”
And if there’s one positive thing Carlos Carvalhal wants us all to know, it is that Wednesday are second in the Championship based on the past 16 games.
It’s a statistic he repeated on a loop at today’s press conference (I stopped counting at six).
As stats go, not a bad one to drum home.
It would be churlish to say that the Owls have in fact played 33 games and lie sixth. And therein lies the second point to be drummed home by the head coach: there is no place for negativity or a glass- half-empty mentality on his watch.
Social media Jonahs take note.
Mind the Gap
And so, we come to Elland Road on a Saturday lunchtime.
Who, as the charming ditty goes, ‘we all hate’ etc.
Carvalhal’s repetitive stat syndrome of the Owls having the second best record in the Championship from the last 16 games takes on extra meaning when you think that run has included cutting through an eight-point deficit to start Saturday’s game on level pegging with our hosts.
Carlos pours several rallying cries out of his half full glass, some more motivating than others:
“It is a derby, it is important to our fans, we have our heart with our fans but inside the pitch there are things that we must do…and it is these things we are focused on. No more than this.”
“If we win our fans will be happy, and is special to the fans to the club.”
Hmm. Can’t see anyone staying up all night to embroider either of those on a banner.
This man will need to be at his best
In practise both teams and their coaching staff will be fighting for three points to consolidate their top six position and widen the gap between sixth and seventh place.
And while the concept of bragging rights still holds some weight, I suspect most fans will be seeing it in those terms too.
In psychiatric circles, there are three main criteria for defining a delusion – a belief held with absolute certainty, not changeable by proof to the contrary, and finally, one that is implausible, bizarre or patently untrue.
In that spirit, dare we believe that Saturday will be a dress rehearsal for the Play-off final as well as an opportunity to leapfrog our Yorkshire rivals, edge nearer to our other Yorkshire rivals and bump into Brighton as they make their traditional last gasp descent from the top two?
Three points good, one point really not that bad, no points and we’ll still be in the top six.
You can read the OwlsAlive preview of the Leeds game by clicking here.
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