Don’t be fooled by Carlos Carvalhal’s almost cherubic features. Don’t be misled by that almost perpetual smile. This is a tough guy underneath – as any centre half of under six feet in height (as he was) had to be.
Which leads to the thought, as Carvalhal fights to emerge from what he concedes to be the toughest period of his Sheffield Wednesday reign, that he is more than prepared to face up to a few internal battles if necessary.
Witness his hauling into line of Fernando Forestieri, via a public revelation that his star had refused to play. Witness also – for those who were there – his bottle-kicking dressing room tirade at half-time of one match last season. Or the backstage departures of several staff members in the recruitment field as Carlos – and rightly so – asserted a bigger influence.
So, and I make an educated guess here, you can imagine Carvalhal’s private reaction to any public questioning of his authority. A couple of people who were there drew this column’s attention to Ross Wallace apparently being somewhat less than enamoured about being substituted in the last home game, the 2-0 Yorkshire derby defeat to Leeds.
So what, I thought? Until noticing that Wallace didn’t even make the bench for the following game, the 1-1 draw at Brentford.
Maybe he had simply played himself out of the squad but you do wonder if those suggestions of a touchline contretemps didn’t escape attention behind closed doors. Not that players shouldn’t be unhappy about being hauled off, it’s just how they show it.
But it doesn’t mean the Scotland winger won’t return, of course. The best lessons are short and sharp. As we saw last season, this is a very good player, one who for whatever reason has yet to perform at anywhere near that standard this time around. And he’s not alone in that with Barry Bannan, for example, short of those exceptional levels.
For Wallace, the extra challenge will be to regain the mantle of Wednesday’s main man on the flanks. Previously, he’s been their only natural winger, operating primarily from the right.
Now that the Owls also have a left-side specialist in record signing Adam Reach, it will be interesting to see when or if Carvalhal will go with two wingers now that he has the option, starting against Wigan on Saturday.
That said, new signings – even expensive ones – often start from the bench and Carvalhal was delighted with the overall performance at Brentford. A big opportunity to relaunch the season now beckons with Bristol City at Hillsborough to complete the home double-header on Tuesday.