Sheffield Wednesday: Carlos Carvalhal on Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and English football’s Portuguese invasion

Sheffield Wednesday's Portuguese boss Carlos Carvalhal
Sheffield Wednesday's Portuguese boss Carlos Carvalhal
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Foreign managers are very much in vogue in this country.

Seven of the 24 clubs in the Championship have now gone down the overseas route. Two bosses are Portuguese, one Dutch, one German, one Spanish, one Russian and one Serbian. The millionaire’s playground of the Premier League of non-British managers have plenty too.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho

When Carlos Carvalhal was named Sheffield Wednesday’s first foreign manager in their 149-year history back in June 2015, few people had heard of him in England.

But Carvalhal has woken the giant and impressively guided the Owls to the play-offs two years in a row.

His compatriot Nuno Espirito Santo has joined him in the second-tier, taking the number of Portuguese coaches currently working in the top two divisions of English football up to four. Jose Mourinho and Marco Silva will lead Manchester United and Watford respectively into battle in the Premier League this season.

For Carvalhal, Mourinho’s success domestically and in Europe has inspired his fellow countrymen.

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen.
20th July 2017.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen. 20th July 2017. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

“Jose opened all the doors to Portuguese managers,” Carvalhal told The Star. “What he has done in his career is fantastic. He is a very clever man and given inspiration to everyone. He opened the doors to the other coaches in the world but especially at the highest level in English football.

“At the same time, there are other Portuguese coaches who have done fantastic work in other parts of the world. Manuel José did some amazing work at Al Ahly and Carlos Queiroz has done a great job with the Iran national team.

“We also have a lot of coaches in Vietnam and Africa and in Europe Leonardo Jardim is doing great things with Monaco so we have a lot of coaches doing very well.

“I think it is natural for the Portuguese coaches to jump to the highest level. It is a natural consequence of the success they have had in different countries. It is why Marco is with Watford and Nuno at Wolves.

Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo (left)

Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo (left)

“We are very well prepared on the technical and tactical side. But most importantly, we create an emotional environment around us. Football is a group of players who are trying to beat each other so the emotional connection is very important.”

Carvalhal has some sympathy for British coaches over their lack of opportunities to manage, particularly in the top-flight. Is he surprised more don’t try their luck on the continent?

“England is a very strong country in a lot of areas so the managers don’t need to go abroad too much,” he said. “People are successful in this society.

“It is completely different in Portugal. A lot of people have had to go abroad in the last few years to try to find a better life.

“Some of our best architects, engineers and football coaches have gone abroad over the last few years.

“In England, the managers are very good but there will probably come a time when they need to go find work in another country.

“So far English coaches don’t need to go abroad but I think in the future they will need to and show their abilities in other countries.”

The 51-year-old is looking forward to crossing paths again with Nuno, who will take charge of his first Wolves match on Saturday when they entertain much-fancied Middlesbrough.

Carvalhal said: “I have met him once or twice when we have done some TV work together but he’s not someone I know really well.

“Championship matches are on all the time in Portugal. When I arrived at Sheffield Wednesday, I watched all the games from the previous season and I learned as much as I could about the competition and I’m sure he will have done the same.”

The second-tier is awash with cash and Wolves have been busy in the transfer market, spending a small fortune on strengthening their first-team squad this summer.

It was just over a month ago Wanderers forked out a Championship record fee of around £15m to land midfielder Ruben Neves from Portuguese giants FC Porto. So far Wolves have purchased 11 players.

“He (Nuno) knows what he must do and he has brought in players who I think will play in the Champions League in the future,” claimed Carvalhal.

“Ruben is a midfielder that I expect will one day play in the Premier League and they have signed a very strong centre-half in Willy Boly from Porto.

“They have brought winger Diogo Jota in on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid and he was in the Porto’s starting eleven last season!

“For me, Wolves will be one of the candidates for the top positions. I’m absolutely sure of that.”

Wolves are not alone in paying big transfer fees and huge salaries on players. Relegated Boro are thought to have spent more than £30m on new additions while Aston Villa have added serious Premier League pedigree in the likes of John Terry and Glenn Whelan.

Under pressure Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy has condemned the “outrageous” summer spending.

“I am not complaining but I just do not know how it can be sustained,” he said. “I think it is outrageous - but don’t get me wrong if I had it, I would spend it.

“I get Middlesbrough signing their players because of the parachute payments. Bristol City spent £5m on a striker [Famara Diedhiou] and Wolves spent £15m on a holding midfield player for heaven’s sake - they already have a £13m winger [Helder Costa, signed in January].”

Despite some of the “crazy deals” Wednesday’s rivals have undertaken, Carvalhal remains optimistic his Owls side will be a major force in the division once again.

“It gets more difficult every year to get promotion but we will try to get into the first positions,” he said. “There will be eight other teams who will be looking to achieve the same thing.

“It will be a tough competition.”