Time was right to go
Sheffield Wednesday and Carlos Carvalhal parted company on Christmas Eve and after a half-season of what has mainly been disappointing results paired with negative football, many will feel that the right decision has finally been made.
While the past 7 months or so have been largely unsuccessful, carried over from the over-cautious approach to the play-off semi-final against Huddersfield, it is worth remembering that there have been plenty of highlights under Carvalhal’s reign, some of a level that Owls fans have not experienced since the turn of the 21st century.
When Carlos Carvalhal was appointed as head coach of Sheffield Wednesday in the summer of 2015, most supporters were thinking ‘Carlos who?’. The Portuguese boss had been manager at a number of European clubs, including the likes of Sport of Lisbon and Besiktas but had rarely stuck around for more than a year at any club and many fans were sceptical.
A mixed start to the 2015-16 season meant the jury was out but once Carvalhal settled on a way of playing results started to follow and the style and quality of football was as good as anything the Owls fans had enjoyed since the Premier League days. A crushing 3-0 League Cup win against a strong Arsenal side at Hillsborough was a catalyst for belief in players and fans alike and an entertaining season resulted in a 6th placed finish. Having seen off favourites Brighton in the semi-final Wednesday travelled to Wembley in hope of a Premier League return for the first time in 16 years but fell short against Hull City. Pride and belief had been restored though, previously Wednesday had only finished in the top half of the Championship twice in 15 years since relegation from the top flight and have never threatened the top 6. The profile of the cub was also on the rise as Carvalhal’s charismatic nature had captured the attention of the media and there was a very positive perception of Sheffield Wednesday developing.
Carvalhal’s 2nd season was always going to be more testing after setting the high standards in the first. The Owls rivals were now well aware of their capabilities and they were seen as credible promotion candidates. Wednesday’s adopted a more pragmatic approach at times during this campaign but a strong end to the season saw them improve on their points tally and finish in 4th place. Carvalhal went with an ultra-defensive approach in the away leg of the semi-final against Huddersfield and got a 0-0 draw. The 2nd leg was just as tense but having got a 2nd half lead Wednesday were pegged back late on and lost on penalties.
This season has been a major disappointed with Carvalhal pointing towards injuries and refereeing decisions that have cost them and it is no surprise to see his time come to an end.
Many critics will point towards the major investment that Carlos has had to work with during his time at Hillsborough but plenty of teams and managers have failed with big budgets. Carvalhal has been dignified and professional in his time at the club and the fact that the Owls fans now expect to be promotion contenders is in part down to the work that he has done in guiding the club to 2 successive top 6 finishes.
In his parting statement Carlos thanked the fans and everyone at the club for the enjoyable experiences he has had at Hillsborough since 2015, reserving special praise for chairman Dejphon Chansiri, who he described as the best chairman he has ever worked for in his numerous managerial positions.