Sheffield Wednesday: Eventual understanding of the method in Carlos Carvalhal's madness showed why he had to stay
I'll admit it - not too long ago I thought Sheffield Wednesday and Carlos Carvalhal should part ways.
Ironically, the peak of this feeling came at the start of the brilliant run which saw Wednesday charge to a play-off place.
The win over a hapless Rotherham United outfit was so uninspiring and devoid of any real quality that, despite a valuable three points being picked up, it was difficult not to feel incredibly frustrated.
It was a frustration intensified by the fact the Owls did not take a rare opportunity to twist the knife into an opposition with a rampant attacking performance.
Carvalhal's decision to send on Jose Semedo with half an hour to play and accept a 2-0 scoreline certainly rankled.
It was a night which hammered home the difference between Carlos' first season at Hillsborough and his second.
And it was a difference that it was difficult to accept the merits of.
In Year One, Wednesday were vibrant. Possession was key but so was an attacking intent. It was a thrilling ride all the way to Wembley - particularly for anyone who had witnessed the worst part of two decades of dirge.
Year Two was a switch to practicality. The surprise factor was gone and Wednesday were going to be forced to battle in every game. High points were rare - performances in the manner of those at Newcastle and Brighton disappointingly few and far between.
At the end of so many games there was the feeling Wednesday could have been so much better, so much more convincing. Nights like the one at the New York Stadium, well into the season, were oh so typical of that.
It felt at that point that Carlos may have taken Wednesday as far as he could. Had he run out of ideas? Was there enough versatility in his arsenal?
But as the end of the season approached, critical thoughts began to wane. It was not simply because Wednesday were winning. It was at this point that it became much clearer there was method to Carlos' madness.
What he had been saying about the struggling of performing without link players was backed up by the return of Gary Hooper. The forward filled the role so superbly, Carlos could have been forgiven for dropping a few 'I told you so's.'
And with that realisation, a few other things began to drop into place as well.
Tinkering with his selection choices throughout the season led to him being able to select a much more settled team at the vital point of the campaign. And a fitter team as well, one capable of operating much closer to 100 per cent that many rivals.
It gave the view that there was indeed an over-arching plan all along, and some of the doubts began to wash away.
The pragmatism became much easier to stomach, to the extent the defensive minded performance in the first leg at Huddersfield felt entirely justifiable.
The fact Wednesday went so agonisingly close to reaching the play-off final for a second successive year helped to diminish the thoughts that the failure was the fault of Carvalhal.
That Carlos should not bear the brunt of the blame was clearly a feeling shared by plenty of Wednesdayites.
After his extended stay was confirmed on Tuesday, more than three quarters of respondents to our poll said they were pleased at the news rather than disappointed.
Many of those Wednesdayites will have themselves come full circle with their opinions on the head coach.
Carlos himself will know however that patience will not last long if Wednesday fail to convince early next season. There are clear lessons from the season past from which he must learn in time for the new campaign.
The Owls must find a way to be more threatening within their pragmatism. Signings must be integrated far better than they were in 16/17. The issue of how to bring the best out of Jordan Rhodes must be addressed. And there should certainly be a new degree of flexibility uncovered.
But, thankfully, the majority seem to have thrown their weight behind Carvalhal being given the chance to answer the questions which arose during the season.
He has earned the right and it would feel perfectly just that he were the man to lead Wednesday back to the Premier League.
How sweet will it be for any thoughts of an enforced departure to be banished for good?