Carlos Carvalhal arrived at Hillsborough as potentially the most readily replaceable part of a new Sheffield Wednesday management structure.
Titled “head coach” and subservient to a committee in charge of transfers, Carvalhal, as a surprise appointment, carried no aura of permanence whatsoever.
It figured that new owner Dejphon Chansiri’s committee model was the more durable feature and that it was designed to remain in place regardless of who bossed the players. This column never agreed that it was right for the club, warning against from the start, but at least you could see a certain merit in terms of continuity.
Nine months on Carvalhal IS the manager - in all but name.
Weigh up that last short sentence and consider just what an incredible turnaround it represents. The “coach” has not only transformed Wednesday on the field, he has also been instrumental in transforming the club’s whole approach to winning promotion back to the Premier League.
That, for me, is the full measure of Carvalhal’s achievement to this point and why he richly deserves the contract extension awarded him this week. From being an apparently peripheral figure when it came to comings and goings in the transfer market, he and his management team now have the major say – indeed, the only qualified say from the inside bearing in mind the chairman’s steep learning curve in the football business.
It makes perfect sense, of course. Too many clubs over-complicate the recruitment process. Wednesday have been saved from doing so by Chansiri’s willingness to recognise - and act on - his own mistake in ditching that wretched committee idea. Full marks to him for that.
Successive Hillsborough draws with Ipswich and MK Dons were not in the script but Wednesday have a six-point cushion in the last play-off spot. It shows faith that Carvalhal has been secured ahead of the season’s outcome and also recognises his attraction to Swansea, as long rumoured, and clubs in his homeland of Portugal.
If Carlos has been content to see his name bandied around then who can blame him after the 14-club tumble-dryer of his previous career, which will tell him that all that matters really is the severance clause.
As for the latest Fernando Forestieri “diving” storm, nothing to add from last week when Keith Hackett warned he’d become a “marked man” with referees. Tuesday’s outrageous caution only underlined that. Hackett believes Carvalhal should compile a video dossier and take it to Professional Game Match Officials in a bid to remove this hex at the most crucial stage of the season.