Mour­inho rates him and so will Owls fans

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Dunlavy

CAR­LOS Car­val­hal was once asked by a Por­tuguese web­site who was bet­ter – Car­val­hal the player or Car­val­hal the coach. “Look at it this way,” said the new Sheffield Wed­nes­day man­ager. “Car­val­hal the coach wouldn’t have put Car­val­hal the player in his team. I think that says ev­ery­thing!”

Let’s be fair. Hav­ing spent his play­ing ca­reer largely in the Por­tuguese top-flight with home­town club Braga, Car­val­hal the player was no rank am­a­teur.

A short but tech­ni­cally adept cen­tre-half (only 5ft 10ins), he even donned the colours of Porto, al­beit for a sin­gle match in 1989.

Yet great­ness – or sim­ply wider recog­ni­tion – would al­ways prove elu­sive for the de­fender.

“He read the game well and was a good or­gan­iser,” said Manuel Jose De Je­sus, his head coach at Braga and the man who sold him to Porto. “Tac­ti­cally he was a top player, but his physique held him back.”

As a player, Car­val­hal be­grudg­ingly ac­cepted medi­ocrity. As a coach, how­ever, he had no in­ten­tion of do­ing the same.

“I gave my­self a pe­riod of four, maybe five years to reach a good level,” said Car­val­hal, who re­tired in 1998 at the age of 32. “My life out­side of football was sta­ble. I had other skills. I gave my­self a dead­line to un­der­stand this pro­fes­sion. If I could reach a good stan­dard, I would con­tinue in football. If not, I would walk away.”

That he re­mains on the touch­line 17 years on should tell you that the self-im­posed dead­line was em­phat­i­cally met.

Hav­ing stut­tered at sec­ond tier Espinho and Frea­munde, Car­val­hal was named man­ager of Leixoes in 2001, a fallen gi­ant of a club lan­guish­ing down in third di­vi­sion anonymity.


Two years later he be­came the first man­ager in Por­tuguese history to lead a third tier team to the fi­nal of the Taca de Por­tu­gal, los­ing to Sport­ing Lis­bon but win­ning a place in the UEFA Cup – the club’s first en­try to Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion since 1969.

“To­gether we re­vived a mon­ster that was dy­ing and com­pletely dis­cred­ited,” said Leixoes pres­i­dent Jose Manuel Teix­era. “Car­los helped us make history and for that he will al­ways be re­mem­bered here.”

When pro­mo­tion to the Se­gunda Di­vi­sion in 2003 was fol­lowed a year later by pro­mo­tion to the top flight with Vi­to­ria Se­tubal, his star was on the rise.

Yet the in­ter­ven­ing decade has failed to match the glit­ter­ing prom­ise of the first, when Car­val­hal was widely re­garded as the heir to good friend Jose Mour­inho. In­deed, not since the glory days at Leixoes has he man­aged to last more than a sin­gle sea­son at any of his ten clubs.

Partly it is bad luck. At Beira­Mar, he was sacked af­ter a board­room takeover. At Braga, he joined a club close to his heart but in a state of chaos, leav­ing when his fam­ily be­came the sub­ject of abuse. Even the great Sport­ing Lis­bon, his home from 2009-10, had their weak­est team in years.

Yet Car­val­hal has also suf­fered from an in­sa­tiable wanderlust; Asteras Tripoli in Greece, Turk­ish side Be­sik­tas, a stint as tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of Al Alhi in the UAE.

“I wanted to travel the world,” he says. “And I wouldn’t change it. I loved all those clubs.”

This de­sire to learn new skills and broaden his ex­pe­ri­ences is typ­i­cal of Car­val­hal.

As a player, he was noted for bring­ing books to train­ing and spend­ing ev­ery spare mo­ment nose deep in au­to­bi­ogra­phies or coach­ing man­u­als.

As a man­ager, he would do the same, even­tu­ally fin­ish­ing with a UEFA Pro Li­cence, de­grees in sports science and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, and even pen­ning a dense, self-pub­lished book on coach­ing, called ‘Soc­cer: De­vel­op­ing A Know-How’.


It was an ap­proach fully en­dorsed by a coach of the cal­i­bre of Mour­inho, who has regularly called for Car­val­hal to be given the op­por­tu­nity to take on one of Por­tu­gal’s top jobs.

In­deed, there are many who have likened Car­val­hal’s an­a­lyt­i­cal ap­proach to man­age­ment to that of the Chelsea boss, though it is a com­par­i­son he re­jects.

“I have no model,” says Car­val­hal, who was ap­pointed by Wed­nes­day in June fol­low­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion from Mour­inho. “Only peo­ple I ad­mire – like Jose. He is very close to me, but I do not fol­low any­thing re­lated to his work. I have my own idea of what I want from a football team and it is mine alone.”

That idea sees play­ers sub­jected to in­di­vid­ual video anal­y­sis, urged to adopt cer­tain in-game, sit­u­a­tion-spe­cific ‘be­hav­iours’ and study the op­po­si­tion.

Car­val­hal is a scholar of the game and de­mands that his play­ers are too.

Not ev­ery­one likes it. Por­tuguese hot­head Ri­cardo Quaresma once flung a wa­ter bot­tle at Car­val­hal and branded him “worth­less” on live TV.

But oth­ers have found his guid­ance more ben­e­fi­cial.

“I en­joyed work­ing with Car­los,” said San­dro, his cap­tain at Se­tubal. “It was a new phi­los­o­phy for us, but very clear and we could all see that it worked.

“He was a good man and a good friend, and we were all sad to see him go.”

And Lee Bullen, now a coach at Hills­bor­ough, con­curs.

“Car­los is very ap­proach­able and his work ethic is right up there,” Bullen said.“He likes to get in amongst it and work closely with the play­ers.

“He is con­stantly re­view­ing videos of our past games and pre­par­ing closely for the op­po­si­tion com­ing up, analysing what their strengths are and try­ing to find weak points.

“He’s a man who leaves no stone un­turned.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CLEVER CAR­LOS: Car­val­hal has brought an an­a­lytic style of man­age­ment to Hills­bor­ough

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