Big name club APPOINTS low profile boss. Big name club SNUBBED by low profile boss. Football is standing on its head over managerial appointments.
And what’s in a name anyway? Recent events at Leeds United and Sunderland suggest left-field is becoming centre-field. But in all the unpredictability, Sheffield Wednesday fans can be thankful again that they gave Carlos Carvalhal a chance to show his worth. So, too, those of shock Premier League newcomers Huddersfield Town after the equally unheralded arrival of David Wagner.
Those examples show why, whatever the temptation, we should resist mocking Leeds’ recruitment of Thomas Christiansen, who wasn’t even quoted in bookies odds an hour before his quite startling appointment. Sunderland fans, meanwhile, experienced a shock in reverse when Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes rejected one of the best supported clubs in the land, albeit relegated and strapped for cash.
This tells us to expect more surprises when clubs evaluate their choices and managers weigh up the size of clubs against the risks involved.
And so to the often pondered question of how exactly Wednesday came by Carvalhal those two summers ago when a frenzy of big name speculation sank into as deep a trough of anti-climax as I’ve known at Hillsborough or anywhere.
People imagine Carlos was targeted from the start. Much as that would add credit to Dejphon Chansiri for what has proved to be an enlightened choice, I understand the Portuguese was one of many candidates interviewed. And I think we overlook the power of the interview over track record.
It was the interview, and the preparation he took into it, that won Carvalhal the job. Not the rights or wrongs of his 14 clubs in 14 years, achievement or otherwise. Same with Christiansen at Leeds.
The interview thrust him in front from nowhere.
This also speaks of an open-mindedness and no prejudgments. What Chansiri most crucially required was a willingness to work closely with him as owner. Not so he could dictate but because he wanted, not unreasonably, to be closely involved with a club for which he’d paid £37.5m.
Some candidates of higher profile will have baulked at this. Carvalhal didn’t; he’s an engaging character who encouraged a relationship built on Chansiri’s admission that he knew little about the football business and was having to learn on the job.
This rapport remains, two years on, at the heart of a continuity and stability to be envied by followers of some big clubs elsewhere, not least Leeds and Sunderland.
* Sheffield Wednesday to consider bids for Fernando Forestieri amid speculation of interest from Huddersfield and elsewhere? I think they will – and on their terms this time, not because they need the money. Great individual talent, also hard-working, but a bit of a maverick who’s hard to fit into one precise and regular role. The one player who, for me, the Owls have to look to get the best from next season is Jordan Rhodes.
No news does not equal inactivity re improving the supply line. Expect developments when the chairman returns to the club in a week or two.