Sheffield Wednesday: Carlos Carvalhal is interested only in the future as Owls gear up for Bristol City clash
It was a thrashing nobody saw coming.
When Sheffield Wednesday last faced Bristol City in April, most observers probably expected the high-flying Owls to pick up maximum points and keep their slender automatic promotion hopes alive.
Wednesday headed to Ashton Gate on the back of a four-match winning streak. They were scoring goals for fun and their defence had not been breached on the road in over six hours.
But the Robins, scrapping for survival, tore up the form book to sum up the unpredictability of the Championship and ran-out convincing 4-1 winners - but that doesn’t even tell half the story.
Around an hour and a quarter before kick-off, Owls officials realised they had made a teamsheet error. The club had selected six loan players in their match-day 18. Football League rules stipulate that a team may only include five. It meant Joe Bennett dropped out at the eleventh hour and Jack Hunt was drafted in.
Wednesday were then forced to make a late change to their starting line-up after Keiren Westwood pulled out in the warm-up. He was replaced by Joe Wildsmith as the Owls crashed to the heaviest defeat of Carvalhal’s reign.
It was a rare no-show by the Wednesday. An afternoon to forget. Everything that could have gone wrong did so it was hardly a surprise Carvalhal chose not to dwell too much on their previous encounter at his press briefing yesterday.
“We don’t live with the past, but the present,” he told The Star. “This is most important to us to focus and the players know exactly what they must do.
“The attitude is important. We discovered our soul against Brentford and don’t want to lose it again. We try to go one more step and improve.
“I don’t like comparisons with the past. We are living with our philosophy. I am very happy and proud about what my team and players did in the last two games. I have confidence and believe in all my players.”
Owls go into this evening’s fixture chasing back-to-back victories for the first time since early April...not that Carvalhal is overly concerned by that statistic.
He said: “It’s history. Musuems live with history. We live with the present and future which is the game with Bristol City. We must play with our heart to win a game which will be pretty tough. In 55 games last year, we didn’t find one which was relaxing. They were all a battle and I expect exactly the same.”
He is refusing to underestimate the threat City will pose, saying: “They are an organised team who are very compact who know what they do in all the moments of the game. We must play at our best level to win.”
Confidence is growing in the Wednesday camp after two encouraging performances and results in a row against Brentford and Wigan Athletic. But despite their improved displays, Carvalhal insists there is still more to come from his side.
He said: “We have a lot of players who can do better. Gary [Hooper] is one of the examples and he is near to the best of him. I can’t say that it is the best Gary Hooper this season since we started. But it is near the best of him, which is good to us.
“I am sure some players will do better with the time. [Will] Buckley and Almen Abdi are good examples, [Adam] Reach as well - although he does not have to prove too much. I don’t forget anyone.
“We believe that these players will be very very important players to us this season. We understand that some players will need to know our way, players and the club over time and will get better. I am absolutely sure about that; this is normal in football.
“The signs from not only Hooper, but Buckley and Reach were very positive. As a coach, you are happy when a player effects the game in 30 minutes.
“Another one can maybe have 15 minutes and have some influence in the game and another can play 10 or eight minutes and also effect the game. It means everybody is inside the boat and in the same direction and this makes the difference between a medium team and a good team.”