Alan Biggs: Why Carvalhal’s own ‘British grit’ can help prevent slip ups

Owls pair of Carlos Carvalhal and Lee Bullen hold court as they leave the field at full time
Owls pair of Carlos Carvalhal and Lee Bullen hold court as they leave the field at full time
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You wouldn’t expect to credit a very quick, indeed almost natural, grasp of English football to a man named Carlos Augusto Soares da Costa Faria Carvalhal.

But the fact that Sheffield Wednesday’s head coach has demonstrated a strong empathy with our game should help eliminate the banana skin of surprise from the style promised by Huddersfield Town’s new boss this weekend.

The British way is less akin to Carlos’s native Portugal and much more so to Germany, from where David Wagner has arrived as Chris Powell’s successor with a vow to introduce a high intensity game ahead of Saturday’s Hillsborough derby, his first match in full control.

Wagner, former assistant to new Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, said: “I liked the game we played at Dortmund. It was speed and passion.”

Perhaps by contrast, Carvalhal has displayed variations of passing, approach and tempo in clever game plans since taking charge. But at the heart of it has always been a core of toughness, which is why Jose Semedo is the likeliest stand-in for the suspended Sam Hutchinson.

The reason is easier to understand when you look at the Portuguese’s background. Besides being a scholar of the game and an authority on it in his native country, Carvalhal was a fighter on the field during his own playing career. He had to be.

Assistant Lee Bullen explains: “You have to remember Carlos was a centre back – and in that position he had to make up the height difference between himself and opponents in other ways.”

You can only imagine that aggression and tenacity were somewhere near the top of the list for a 5’ 10” central defender... and also now for a coach who, for all his genial nature, can explode with the best of them as he recently revealed in this column.

So you’d also expect Wednesday to be up for the physical demands of what Wagner’s new Terriers throw at them. Huddersfield and then another bottom half side in Blackburn away (also under new control in Paul Lambert) present the sort of test Wednesday failed in crashing 3-1 at Charlton before the break. Having previously matched up to the best, you’d think four points would be the minimum target from this pairing of games.