Column: High praise for Carlos Carvalhal, from a legendary Blade

Managers who can man-manage tend to recognise that quality in others. It's the knack of pressing buttons, easy on machines but complex when it comes to getting human beings to function at the maximum.

Thursday, 7th April 2016, 10:54 am
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2016, 10:56 am
Carlos Carvalhal thanks his players at the final whistle

Saying or doing the right thing at the right time is not a talent with which every boss is blessed. Go into any office, you don’t have to be a footballer to recognise the truth of that.

But bringing out the best in people can be under-valued in a game where money, and buying the best, talks so loudly. So thank heavens for Leicester City and Claudio Ranieri. Thank goodness for Rotherham United and Neil Warnock.

Neil Warnock on the touchline at Hillsborough

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Come to that, thank your lucky stars for Carlos Carvalhal and Sheffield Wednesday. It is not only extra spending power that has transformed the Owls from Championship scufflers to a stylish, compact team with real hopes of climbing into the Premier League.

That’s why, in genuine recognition of a fellow professional, Warnock calls Carvalhal “my kind of manager.” Beyond that, they have very little in common.

Like so many of us, the veteran Rotherham and former Sheffield United boss had “never heard of” the Portuguese coach before his surprise appointment by the Owls last summer.

Already they are kindred spirits, as evidenced during the Millers shock win at Hillsborough recently. It’s almost a recital of what makes Warnock himself tick. “Carlos enjoys the banter with the players,” says Neil. “He’s got confidence in them. He sticks with certain principles.

A delighted Owls scorer Fernando Forestieri

“The players have clocked in to what he’s doing. They’re all in it together and you can see how much they are enjoying it.

“Before that Hillsborough game I said to him: ‘I hope you do well after this one, pal.’ I think he’s a good manager. You don’t go to a club and say ‘I’m going to play this way.’

“You look at what you’ve got, the strengths of the players and you get a system to suit them. That’s what he’s done. He also changes a bit when he has to – I’ve got a lot of time for him.”

Another key observation came my way this week from celebrity fan Nick Matthew, world squash champion three times over: “If someone scores a great goal they’re all there celebrating.

Neil Warnock on the touchline at Hillsborough

“It’s a genuine feeling of togetherness.”

Witness the Fernando Forestieri winner at Huddersfield last Saturday.

That also stems from Carvalhal and is another reason why Warnock is tipping Wednesday for promotion. “I don’t think teams will want to face them in the play-offs,” he says.

“They’re always going to score goals and they’re solid at the back.

A delighted Owls scorer Fernando Forestieri

“As good a team as I’ve seen there for many years. They’ve got a chance.”

Praise – from a Blade – doesn’t come more meaningful than that.