After becoming Sheffield Wednesday’s first ever foreign coach last June, Carlos Carvalhal recognised he had to silence his doubters.
Many Wednesdayites expressed concern over chairman Dejphon Chansiri’s decision to appoint the well-travelled Portuguese chief to succeed Stuart Gray.
Many asked “who is Carlos Carvalhal?” and why has he been tasked with the job of guiding the club back into the Premier League? A quick glance at his coaching background hardly inspired confidence either - 14 clubs led in a 14-year spell and none managed since 2012.
But Carvalhal, the son of an ink salesman father and seamstress mother, revealed at his grand unveiling to the assembled press that it was his childhood dream to manage in England. He vowed to make the most of the opportunity.
“I’m excited and I want to win the trust of our massive fans,” he said.
CARLOS CARVALHAL FACTFILE
Place of Birth: Braga
Position in his playing days: Centre-back
Qualifications: Completed his Pro-licence coaching badges with Jose Mourinho
Honours: Leixoes - Segunda B title (02/03), Vitoria Futebol Clube - League Cup winners (07/08)
Did you know: Carvalhal wrote a coaching manual, detailing his style of play and approach while in charge of Besiktas.
Following a sluggish start to the campaign, the supporters have gradually warmed to the little-known and unheralded coach. It took Carvalhal only a dozen matches to be immortalised in song by Wednesdayites. ‘Carlos had a dream’ has proved hugely popular on the terraces since the Owls’ last-gasp win at Brentford.
“When the game at Brentford finished, I loved the song,” he said. “I was feeling like when the soldiers come home from war after winning the war.”
It has to be said that Carvalhal has received significant financial backing from Chansiri in the transfer market. Eighteen new faces have arrived in 11 months. Not all of those buys have been success stories.
However, Carvalhal, an engaging, colourful character, has managed his resources superbly and moulded the team quickly together. The Championship’s Tinkerman has, on the whole, rotated his squad effectively and recruited prudently.
Ross Wallace and Barry Bannan have proven astute free-transfer additions and adding Gary Hooper and Fernando Forestieri to the front line has given them a cutting edge they have been crying out for for years.
Wednesday’s fluid attacking football has lit up the league. They have scored goals for fun and from all departments. It is a side of artists and soldiers.
Not only has Carvalhal - full name Carlos Augusto Soares da Costa Faria Carvalhal - succeeded in overhauling their style of football, he has also turned Hillsborough into a place opponents fear coming to.
“Since the first day talking to the players, I believed we would reach the Play-Offs,” said Carvalhal. “They looked shocked, at me talking about promotion, they were looking at me thinking, ‘maybe this guy is crazy’.”
Nobody is thinking Carvalhal, who was rewarded with a contract extension, is crazy right now.
When he takes the side to the national stadium this weekend, Carvalhal will fulfil another boyhood ambition. It will be the first time he has visited Wembley.
Regardless of whether the Owls win or lose the final, Carvalhal has silenced his detractors.