For all the trust justifiably invested in Carlos Carvalhal, did anyone truly believe his pre-Wembley statement that he had not considered a list
of summer targets?
Come on, a pro like him will have had not one list but two, pending the outcome of the promotion showdown.
So, while Sheffield Wednesday have had to start a month behind some of their rivals, I think you can assume some of the lost time will have been made up in private. “I reckon Carlos will have had a shopping list for all eventualities,” says former Owls stalwart Lawrie Madden.
“Wembley will live long in the memory but the club can’t afford to live on those memories. They need to be ruthless and meticulous in what happens now, having rekindled everyone’s optimism. The chairman has been true to his word and I think you’d be looking to strengthen all areas.”
Where Wednesday, as a club, have actually had a head start on some of their rivals is that a new manager has never been on the list. Just look at the flurry of recent appointments....Aston Villa (Roberto Di Matteo), Leeds (Garry Monk), Derby (Nigel Pearson), Blackburn (Owen Coyle), Rotherham (Alan Stubbs) among others. And more in the pipeline with Nottingham Forest and Reading yet to confirm new managers as this goes to press.
Carvalhal’s view of all this is just an amused sidelong glance. As this column pointed out after his appointment, one thing a coach who’d had 14 jobs in as many years would bring to the table is an absolute lack of fear. And so it’s proved in the style of football and freedom of expression which will continue into next season.
That’s why I don’t think you can overstate the importance of such a mind set in a profession racked by anxiety. Three year contract or not, Carvalhal turns the whole pressure game on its head with the self-styled philosophy that the pressure is on the club and not the coach.
Do we think he has to hit the ground running next season to be sure of a second season, never mind a third? Yes, I think most of us do. Is Carlos worried about that?
Not in the slightest.
Here’s the way he puts a shrug of the shoulders into words: “If someone sacks me in the past, I think it’s the problem of the owner... it’s a problem of the club. They are losing a good coach.”
It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care or is arrogant. It does mean he doesn’t need money to motivate him – because he has enough to be motivated by something else; pure enjoyment. As an expression of confidence and self-belief it is powerful. You sensed it was shared by his players last season and will be again.
As for the current lull, I think supporters know well enough now not to mistake it for inactivity.