Carvalhal is not fazed by pressure build
CARLOS Carvalhal insists he is “afraid of nothing” as pressure on the Sheffield Wednesday boss reaches boiling point.
The struggling Owls welcome Leeds on the back of a derby defeat to Sheffield United and a shock 1-0 loss at struggling Birmingham.
Pre-weekend, Wednesday were 14th. They had won just three of their first ten games and were five points shy of the top six.
Victory for the Whites today also would mark the first time Wednesday have lost three straight league games since Carvalhal’s appointment in June 2015.
Steady progress? Hardly, but the Portuguese – who enjoys a close relationship with owner Dejphon Chansiri – says he doesn’t fear the axe.
“I am not worried,” he said in a defiant media call on Friday. “I am not hiding. My face is always here. I am afraid of nothing.
“Myself and the owner, we talk often and nothing has changed. He doesn’t look at us with different eyes because we lose two games. He talked with me the same way he did last week, last month and two years ago. He is a reasonable person.”
A reasonable chairman is a boon for any manager, but what Carvalhal really needs is a fit squad for a sustained spell.
Propelled to the 2016 play-off final by slick, offensive football, the Owls have since looked stodgy and leaden. For Carvalhal, that regression was down to lengthy injury absences for key players.
“In football, you have forwards, midfielders and defenders,” he said after the Owls drew 1-1 with Sunderland in August.
“Some players, they just stay in those positions. Others break the lines. By that I mean they can move around the pitch, create space and link play. These players are very valuable. “For us these players are Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper, Kieran Lee, Ross Wallace, Sam Hutchinson. “Last season, they all were injured for a long time. At one stage, I didn’t have any of them. None. So when people were saying ‘Why are you playing this way?’ Why aren’t we playing the same as last season?’ they must understand that we didn’t have the players. I had to play a different way to win matches.” Argentine playmaker Forestieri, who had knee surgery earlier this month, will be out for a minimum of three months. But with midfield ballwinner Hutchinson and skipper Glenn Loovens back in contention this weekend, Carvalhal now has almost every weapon at his disposal. Past achievements and his friendship with Chansiri should ensure the 51-year-old is given a chance to prove his complaints were justified even if Leeds leave Hillsborough with three points. Fail to improve in October, however, and he is out of excuses. In the meantime, Carvalhal has pleaded for the support of an increasingly rancorous Hillsborough. “I know football and I know the life,” he said. “I know that some people have reasonable expectations and some do not. But let us not be divided. “Because if you turn your back on me, you are turning your back on Sheffield Wednesday.”
STRAIN: Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal