PRESS | Contract talk makes Carlos tetchy

PRESS | Contract talk makes Carlos tetchy

If we have learnt one thing about Carlos Carvalhal from his tenure in S6, he is an astute man.

His animated presence on the touchline is balanced by a calm, personable demeanour away from the field of play.

He is upbeat, chooses his words carefully, plays his cards close to his chest and treats us to some wonderful explorations of the English language.

But we all have our moments. Today we saw a side of Carvalhal that was possibly a misjudgement, maybe a game play and definitely rather odd.

This time last year we were told Carvalhal had signed a three-year contract – even though “he would have been happy with a 12-month deal.”

Having started and then fuelled the contract debate himself this week – on Portuguese radio and later with the esteemed Alan Biggs on Sheffield LIVE tv – today’s pre-match press conference saw a volte-face with triple lip zip about his future.

 

Inviting pressure

 

When he strode in, sat down and announced he didn’t want to talk about his ‘personal life’, he more or less pressed ‘go’ on questions about if, when and for how long he would sign on a dotted line.

What journalist could resist the bait? Certainly not our man from the BBC. And after 5 minutes of relatively gentle probing, Carlos pulled down the shutters:

“If you don’t change the conversation, I leave. Really, I will leave.”

Quite extraordinary, as David Coleman might have said.

“Really, I will leave”

It is hard to believe the coach who plans every last detail on the pitch could have fallen into a media trap essentially set by himself.

If, as he stated, his aim was to draw the focus away from himself and onto the team, his tactics seem to have backfired.

But this is Carlos, and I guess we’ll find out in due course whether we have witnessed an elaborate double bluff, deflecting attention and pressure from his squad before a sequence of crucial games.

In truth, given that contracts in the world of football may as well be written with a stick on a beach as the tide rushes in, what does it matter other than to drive traffic between the mobile phones of South Yorkshire?

The drop-down menu of social media speculation includes options for: he’s leaving if we don’t get promoted, he’s leaving if we do get promoted, he’s upset by the small but vocal online ‘Carlos out’ community, he’s decided to take his own advice and set up a restaurant near another restaurant.

Whatever his intention, the handbags at dawn atmosphere never quite lifted from the room after that dramatic opening.

Which is a shame given that we could have spent time congratulating Carvalhal on his April Manager of the Month award; we could have delighted in Wednesday guaranteeing a higher finish than last year, with a game to spare; we could have shared in reveries about life in the Premier League.

 

Reflecting on the positives

 

Instead it was left to Daniel Pudil to reflect on the season’s positives and look as excited as the straight-faced Czech can be about 17 clean sheets and a possible return to Wembley.

From the start of the season, players have been asserting their desire to finish higher than last year.

Whatever happens on Sunday, the Owls will be perched higher than we could have dreamed in the decade pre-Carlos. We will finish at least one place higher than last season. But is that what ‘improving on last year’ means?

Pudil had time to reflect on an improving side

As we trudged away from Wembley 12 months ago there was a sense that the big dipper ride had been thrilling but we’d like a gentle spin in a tea cup next time. Only automatic promotion would do.

Earlier this season Pudil broke cover and became the first player to mention a top two finish as a real possibility. Fate, form and other factors have cut off that route.

So here we are again. The same, but different.

Fulham are doing the thrilling – the best team in the Championship according to Pudil – and Wednesday are receiving more recognition for a tight defence than free-flowing play.

Keeping 17 clean sheets three seasons in a row is worth shouting about. Investing in players with promotion track-records like David Jones, who can dig in and win ugly, has paid off so far.

GL: Second flight gets tougher each year

Loovens has said the Championship gets harder each year, an observation shared by his boss: “[With] Huddersfield, Reading and Fulham, the points are similar. All the teams are there with almost the same points. After a marathon if you finish in that position with the same points it means the teams are very equal.”

No 13-point gap between third and sixth this time.

Carlos reckons the odds are 25/1 for each of the four contenders.

 

Sunday

 

Which brings us to Sunday and the visit of Fulham.

Only in football would fans buy tickets for that game against unnamed opponents on an indefinite date at an unspecified time, otherwise known as the play-off semi-final.

While we are wearing our brains out with the permutations of Sunday’s matches on where we finish and who we play, the team and the boss are giving it the full ‘one game at a time’ treatment.

All we know for sure is that if we keep off Mr Chansiri’s grass the afternoon will conclude with “not do a lap of honour, but we will do a lap of appreciation to the fans.”

A tie against the Cottagers that could have been make or break is now the very epitome of a dead rubber.

Leeds’ timely collapse makes this game a ‘dead rubber’

Despite the added frisson of the Manager of the Month curse hanging over the home bench, it feels pretty much as though this match is one for both teams to get out of the way before the real business begins.

In Pudil’s words, “[Who we get in the play-offs] doesn’t matter… the players are not thinking about that. We will see what’s going to happen after 90 minutes and after that game we can prepare for the semi-final.”

Carlos will be fielding a team who “can show their value” – not the under-23s, but not many of the usual suspects either unless they need a run out to get fit for bigger things.

The immediate thought of anyone who travelled down to last season’s finale will be ‘oh no, not again.’

Resting players on that occasion produced the most disjointed performance from a Wednesday team for quite some time and gave Wolves a rare home win (it didn’t matter).

By the end of this strange press conference Carlos had regained Mr Positivity (Lite) mode enough to remind us that resting players at Molineux also led to Wednesday beating Brighton six days later in one of the most memorable nights ever at Hillsborough.

So, which would you prefer?

Although going out on a high would be fabulous, I suspect most of the sold-out-but-not-sold-out stadium will settle for a drab game if it’s followed by three stunning victories and the flourish of a certain pen on a certain piece of paper.

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE

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Angela

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

Images: SWFC, except ‘Carlos faces media’ – author


One Comment

  1. Absolutely top notch, Angela, one of your best yet! 🙂

    Although Carlos should probably resit probability classes in maths having read this quote:

    “Carlos reckons the odds are 25/1 for each of the four contenders.”

    Or at least not open a bookies any time soon 😉

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