It wasn’t responsible for the harsh defeat at Birmingham or the number of cliff-hangers that Sheffield Wednesday have become involved in as they look to iron out a firm shape and the form to go with it.
But in some ways the lingering of the Fernando Forestieri affair has served to underline his status and all that goes with it. He is unquestionably Wednesday’s “star player” (as in likeliest match winner) and that would present a continuing challenge to any manager, particularly one as team conscious as Carlos Carvalhal.
Forestieri’s recent public pledge of allegiance still fell short for some over the lack of an explanation for refusing to play at Norwich and another former player has joined Matt Hamshaw in telling this column that ranks cannot be closed overnight after an action of such gravity.
“If I’m a player I’m taking that as a personal insult,” says former skipper Jon Newsome. “To forgive takes time.”
Strong words. And Carvalhal is a strong personality as coach. He put the proverbial ball back in Fernando’s court by making him substitute against Bristol City recently whereupon he was part of a remarkable comeback victory.
“Was that man-management and another part of ‘you’re still not too big to drop?’” queries Newsome. Maybe only a sustained return to last season’s form can make the whole episode go away completely.
Yet you detect no great animosity from team mates, on the surface at least, and Newsome believes Forestieri has the answer at his feet, saying:
“Hopefully he’ll react in the right way and show he’s an integral part of the team...by effectively saying ‘I am number one and you’ve got to pick me.’”
Praise again for the chairman’s strong line, though Newsome has an interesting theory here. “Credit to Mr. Chansiri,” he adds. “I think most chairmen a bit long in the tooth would have thought ‘here we go again,
I’ve seen this before... we’d better put a for sale sign on his back and cash him in.’
“But Mr. Chansiri, maybe in his naivety in never having been involved in football, thought: ‘We’re not having this, we don’t do this in my business or my country. I’m standing firm.’
“It was a refreshing change.”