PRESS | Carlos ‘will not leave’

PRESS | Carlos ‘will not leave’

We’re All Wednesday Aren’t We. One great big happy family.

Like many families, sometimes we get into difficulty. And this is one of those times. The bonds formed little more than two years ago are suffering.  The relationship between the fans and the head coach, the top-ranked striker and the back of the net, the defence and a clean sheet – all seem stuck in patterns of hurtful or harmful behaviour. And so, today’s press conference takes on the air of a psychiatric assessment.

Yes, we might be playing Derby on Saturday, but everything that needs to be said about that game is done and dusted. We’ll start the day level on points. We need to win. They are a strong team and Barry Bannan used to play for them. The wee Scot reveals he liked the changing room at Pride Park and the club gave him his first taste of ‘man’s’ football. That’s about it when it comes to insights.

In his words, Bannan is not here to talk about himself, he’s here to talk about the team. Even when encouraged to celebrate his recent stand out performances for Scotland, the number 41 pulls focus back to S6, stressing his desire to concentrate on sorting things out back home at his club with his football family.

Arms crossed throughout, the bright star in this season’s rather murky firmament gives off sullen teenager vibes. Except unlike most teenagers he’s defending his dad to the hilt. Returning Carlos’ loyalty to his squad over the past few weeks, Bannan puts the blame for Wednesday’s unimpressive form firmly in the players’ hands. “It’s our fault, not the manager’s. We’re the ones with the jerseys.” Jerseys. In the shop by Monday, it seems.

Text book body language from Bazza

If the midfielder is putting responsibility in the players’ hands, Carlos is seeking answers from his players’ heads. Like many of us, he is struggling to understand how a team that can be all wine, roses and a box of chocolates one week, forgets your birthday the next.

The head coach describes the win over Leeds as a high level, high intensity highlight of the campaign. And defeat at struggling Bolton just days later? Inexplicable.

How the same starting eleven can turn out two polar opposite performances is a mystery to the fans. Like Carlos, we know the squad has “capacity and quality” – we’ve seen flashes of it. So why the inconsistency?

The pressure is building match by match. The rumblings of ‘Carlos Out’ heard at the Macron will grow louder if his team doesn’t start climbing. In fairness, with a four-point gap to bridge we’re not talking about an Everest expedition to get into the play-off places. But Bannan and Carvalhal are clear today that we’re aiming for the summit – they utter the phrase ‘automatic promotion.’ Admittedly Carlos is nervously crumpling a pink post-it note when he says it. In fact, he’s using the post-it like a fidget widget throughout the press conference. What with that and Bannan’s crossed arms, you don’t need to be a body language expert to see the nerves jangling.

Meanwhile, promising promotion this season surely piles yet more pressure on the fragile psyche of our squad.


It’s mental.

Confidence, or lack of it, seems to lie at the core. And while Carlos says, “The best confidence you can give a player is to play” it’s clear there’s a fair bit of talking therapy going on behind the scenes as well.

We can speculate that the coaches are exercising their team-building skills, maybe encouraging players to express and explore and understand each other’s experiences and views, appreciate each other’s needs, build on strengths. All those therapy-type things.  But if the squad are in family therapy behind closed doors, the confidentiality agreement is watertight. “What happens in the changing room stays in the changing room” states a grim-faced Barry Bannan.

Carvalhal talks wistfully about the positive vibes around surprise package teams like Wolves. That was us just two years ago. Bannan talks about maybe reverting to the direct style that was getting us results – ‘but the fans didn’t like it’ – one year ago.

Both player and head coach carry an air of being part of a tight-knit group that will relish proving the naysayers wrong. We thought that process had started with the thrashing of Leeds, but then the old behaviour crept back – the slow start, the defensive mistakes, the missed chances.



As Loovens has said before him, Bannan points out that games come thick and fast in the Championship, offering a chance to rectify mistakes rather than dwell on them. Without the dread vote of confidence from the chairman (yet), Saturday provides Carlos with another stab at finding consistency.

In Gary Rowett Derby have that twitterati dream – a boss who once played for the team. Three draws and a win from their last four matches tips the form balance slightly in our hosts’ favour, but we start the match on level pegging in terms of points and goal difference. We need a win. That’s pretty much it.

So which Wednesday will run out of the tunnel at 3 pm – the one Bannan says ‘concedes goals we don’t need to’ or the one Carlos wants to be ‘more active, less reactive’?


Questions, questions. We’re looking to the coaching team and the players to provide the answers.

If our under-siege boss and his wayward offspring can prove a point, or three, on Saturday we’ll all be playing happy families again.


.OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE



Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @ABGalvin

Images: SWFC, unless stated. Header – The Star, Sheffield.

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