Sometimes a quote strikes you as key. Take this one from Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal: “It’s very important to me that the soul of the team is British.”
He delivered it following the fun and frolics of a 4-1 Capital One Cup romp against Mansfield. This was based on foreign flair, as had been the bursts of tasty football served up in the opening day league win over Bristol City.
The wild fluctuation that followed, albeit in a far from calamitous two points from three games, leads all the way back to that Carvalhal comment, which will also shape the way ahead for the Owls with so many new players, several from overseas, and more recruits to come.
If Wednesday are to lift themselves a level this season then these are the players, notably including Lewis McGugan, who are going to have to make the difference – as with the Marco Matias wonder goal in the draw at Leeds.
But there can be a fine line between showing flair and being downright feeble, as Wednesday were in that other 1-1 draw at home to Reading when the team offered nothing going forward other than a highly fortunate, albeit well taken, late equaliser from Modou Sougou. Finding the balance is clearly Carvalhal’s chief concern.
Back came Kieran Lee and Jose Semedo, British in style and spirit, at Elland Road where the performance was again uninspired but the result reflected the greater resolve needed in a Yorkshire derby – or any other game for that matter.
So, despite being as critical as anyone of the Reading non-performance, I think supporters should – and will – understand the tricky nature of this transition and allow Carvalhal time to find the right chemistry. It can be quite potent. Meantime, he and significant others are finding their feet in English football.
Together. It’s why academy coach Lee Bullen’s retention with the first team as a link with a traditional past is, I think, vital.
Carvalhal hits the right note in speaking of the foreign players adapting to an English game mentality rather than the other way around – which you could be forgiven for thinking was the case against Reading when Matias, Alex Lopez and Lucas Joao flapped around. In fairness, so did others such as the previously impressive Jack Hunt and Ross Wallace on the night. On field leadership was lacking.
One other aspect I feel Carvalhal should take care over in the approach to Middlesbrough’s attractive visit on Saturday is the kind of football he and, in particular owner Dejphon Chansiri, promised this season.
“Aggressive, attacking, entertaining,” were the buzz words from the chairman. Doubtless they were sincere but consider especially the first of those and whether Wednesday’s approach to home games so far, more counter-attacking by nature with one up front, has reflected the brochure?
We should add “yet” to that.
I didn’t see the narrow Capital One Cup eclipse of Oxford on Tuesday but all of this is a learning process and a voyage of discovery which can be truly exciting if the ingredients are blended into the right mix.