The Outsiders: How Carlos Carvalhal turned Sheffield Wednesday into promotion chasers

Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal holds an inquest with his players pn the pitch after the final whistle
Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal holds an inquest with his players pn the pitch after the final whistle
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I am very proud of everyone at our club for how we have played and what we have done together this season.

By securing a Play-Off place, we have achieved something that most of the people, at the beginning of the season, didn’t believe was possible.

Carlos Carvalhal thanks his players at the final whistle

Carlos Carvalhal thanks his players at the final whistle

In the last 15 to 16 years, the fans have not had many reasons to be happy but I think they are very happy now.

Fans of all ages, from 18 to 85, come up to me in the streets and the supermarket to tell me this is some of the best football they have seen in their lives.

It has been a collective process and the achievement belongs to my staff, the team, the fans and the chairman.

In this competition, we have always been outsiders. Problems arise the minute you start believing you are favourites.

Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal

Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal

We are the team that have a new coach, a new philosophy and have changed a lot of things in the club. There are teams with bigger budgets, with strong players and they have very good coaches. Some of the coaches have been at their clubs two or three years. Some of those clubs have tried to get promoted in the last two or three years.

We have progressed very well. I remember when we were in 19th place after seven games.

WORRIED

At that moment, I think people were more worried that we could get relegated than getting into the Play-Offs.

Owls win celebrations...Carlos Carvalhal and Lee Bullen with players Keiran Westwood and Fernando Forestieri

Owls win celebrations...Carlos Carvalhal and Lee Bullen with players Keiran Westwood and Fernando Forestieri

But at the start, we did not have a full squad. Our recruitment was not complete. We were still receiving more players. Everyone could see that the squad and team was getting stronger.

We have stayed compact like a team and created a positive environment between us and the players, the players and the fans. My staff have worked hard each and every day and my players have been fantastic.

At times this year, we have had accidents but that is normal. When we have had accidents, we have given strong answers in the next game.

I have coached in many countries with many teams, but the Championship is the hardest competition in the world. It is a demanding division and is so tough physically and mentally.

Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal

There was a period in February when we were near the first two positions, I think six points or seven in that moment. I have a wish in that moment that we can go for the top two positions.

But I don’t need to remember what happened in those four or five games. We missed players, we did not have luck with the decisions of the referees. In that three or four games, we don’t win, we missed some points and we come down a little.

Our focus throughout the whole of the season has been on the next game. We are all now focused and preparing for Brighton. We are excited and will be ready for the challenge.

Brighton will be a strong opponent, like all of the teams in the play-offs, but each of the four teams has a 25 per cent chance.

We have drawn against them both times this season in balanced games and we understand we are playing a top team but I think we are a better team now than in the past.

I believe my team are calm and feeling strong mentally and physically. We have got a good dynamic.

We are the underdogs heading into the Play-Offs but that can be a positive for us.

“We finished the season very healthy, very fresh, very strong mentally and physically because we managed the squad well.

There has been no over-training.

We have only a few players who have played a lot of games.

As we prepare to face Brighton on Friday, I ask the fans to create a positive environment again at Hillsborough. We want Brighton to feel the power of Hillsborough.

Before the Cardiff game, I challenged our massive fans to really get behind the team and the players gave a fantastic answer.

When our team made mistakes, they applauded us for 90 minutes and hopefully it will be like this on Friday.

If they can do a little better than what they did against Cardiff, I’m sure that will push the players on.

We know Brighton are a strong side, but we are in a very good moment so let’s see what will happen.

l Compiled by Dom Howson