Alan Biggs: Do Sheffield Wednesday players deserve Carlos Carvalhal’s protection?

Carlos Carvalhal congratulating his players after their win over Leeds United
Carlos Carvalhal congratulating his players after their win over Leeds United
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For all that this column urged taking a longer view last week, the current demands on Sheffield Wednesday are right and proper. Shape up and quick.

Right now, it doesn’t look like they can or will. But I’m sticking to my four match (now three match) timescale for proper perspective.

Why? Because, for all the arguments against that article (and I found myself agreeing with quite a few), two things were right;-

1/ My Bolton foreboding proved correct; a defeat to desperate opposition that I found strangely predictable - hence an attempt to look beyond it.

2/ Two wins and a draw from the next three games of this sequence – of which Wednesday are fully capable – will put them roughly back on course.

But – and here’s a big point – it would be typical of them to do that and then slip back again. That’s why I fully agree that this infuriating inconsistency cannot carry on indefinitely. The focus on something having to change is inevitable and understandable given that the fluctuations in standard are, frankly, criminal.

A show of unity on the bench between chairman Dejphon Chansiri and Carlos Carvalhal

A show of unity on the bench between chairman Dejphon Chansiri and Carlos Carvalhal

Beating Leeds 3-0 is a case for the prosecution and not the defence. Hitting that high makes the subsequent low at rock-bottom Bolton all the more damning. Average players and teams can be forgiven inconsistency; not ones with this quality.

Here’s where I make no apologies for climbing back on a favourite hobbyhorse. Was there enough churn in the squad last summer? Has the current group become – albeit subconsciously - too comfortable? As before, my answers are No and Yes.

There’s nothing for now that can be done about that. I seriously doubt whether Carlos Carvalhal has had any real managerial control over what I think is a fundamental flaw in the transfer operation. But every player should take a long hard look at himself. Where are the leaders for a start?

Carvalhal, to whom they owe more than they are giving, has tried to be protective and more consistent in selection. Maybe he should go back to rotation to turn up the heat again.

Make no mistake, owner Dejphon Chansiri is much more inclined to blame the players than the head coach. Demands for a change again founder on a refreshingly loyal relationship.

Ultimately, when something has to change, it is usually the manager and you can hardly rule that out in this climate. But Chansiri is almost impossible to second guess and any replacement would likely be a self-styled, probably unpredictable choice.

Looking further ahead, a proper squad shake-up (involving actually selling a player or two) may have to be carried out in January, hopefully with the top six still attainable. I felt Carlton Palmer summed up well when he said that, while the Owls remain in touch, Carvalhal has earned support, but if they drift off the pace (the gap is still only four points) then the big issue may have to be addressed.

Let’s see where these next three games take us. It’s not necessarily a deadline. But hopefully a response at Derby, sustained at home to Barnsley and Millwall. And beyond.

It’s by no means only Carvalhal who is owed that. So are the fans, who I was slightly harsh on last week. Nearly 5,000 went to Bolton and it’s impossible not to feel and share some of their anger. Maybe players need to show some of the same.