It was exactly two years ago today Carlos Carvalhal became Sheffield Wednesday’s first foreign boss in their 149-year history.
Little-known Carvalhal replaced Stuart Gray and was tasked with the job of leading the club back into the top-flight.
Plenty has happened since Carvalhal’s unexpected appointment. The Portuguese chief, a charming, engaging character, has turned the Owls into genuine promotion contenders, leading them to back-to-back play-offs. It has been quite a journey but it has not always been plain-sailing.
Carvalhal’s future at Hillsborough looked uncertain after Wednesday’s heartbreaking semi-final loss to Huddersfield Town on penalties.
But after holding talks with owner Dejphon Chansiri, Carvalhal opted to extend his stay in May, although the length of his contract was not disclosed.
Owls midfielder Barry Bannan told The Star: “Carlos knows the squad better than anybody. He has assembled this group and we have a great relationship with him. We have improved year on year with him so I think it was only right Carlos got another contract.
“He has been brilliant for us since coming in. He has done a great job with what he has been given. I think if you ask everyone in the squad they will tell you it was a breath of fresh air to hear he’s staying.
“If he had left, there would have been a few players who would have been down about it.
“It is one of the biggest things of the summer so far keeping the manager.”
Bannan has enjoyed working with Carvalhal, clocking up 87 appearances in all competitions since arriving on a free transfer in August 2015.
“Carlos has been brilliant for me; there is no getting away from it,” said the Scotland international. “A lot of people say it is because he plays you but it is not even that. Carlos is easy to approach and you can speak to him like he’s a mate but you know not to cross the line as well. He has got that balance.
“It is the little things as well. When you go into games, he is so tactically aware of what the other teams are going to do.”
After two close calls, the target for Carvalhal is automatic promotion. He has challenged his players to make a fast start to next season. Wednesday travel to Preston North End on the opening weekend of the campaign on Saturday, August 5.
But Carvalhal is under no illusions at the size of the task facing his squad.
“It (promotion) will be more difficult,” he said. “There were teams like Huddersfield, Leeds and Fulham who challenged for promotion last season who people didn’t expect.
“There were some teams who we expected to be involved in the play-offs like Norwich, Derby and Aston Villa who will be more strong next season.
“I believe there are other teams like Wolves, Birmingham and maybe Cardiff who will have big expectations. Relegated teams will also try to be near the first positions. The league gets stronger and stronger each season. We must keeping going game by game and try to win points. We have so far stabilised the team in a good position. Our challenge is to try and do better.”