He might not be too fond of the phrase rotation, but Carlos Carvalhal frequently tinkers with his squad.
Carvalhal, the winner of the Championship’s April manager of the month award, has so far used 34 players this season. As far as Carvalhal is concerned, nobody’s position in the side should be assured.
But it is a sign of how well things are going at S6 that the Owls head coach named an unchanged matchday squad for the first time in over four months at Ipswich Town. Carvalhal felt there was no reason to change anything and Wednesday dug in to grind out a sixth successive victory and clinch a play-off spot.
Will Carvalhal keep faith with the same 18 this weekend? I doubt it.
It would be great if the team could maintain their winning momentum, but Carvalhal is likely to leave out some of his top performers. It is what he did against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final match of the regular season last year and it is what he did in the cup competitions this time around. Winning promotion, by any means, to the Premier League has always been at the top of Carvalhal’s agenda.
Few Wednesdayites will criticise Carvalhal if he chooses to shuffle his pack on Sunday. As I wrote in The Star 48 hours ago, Wednesday have earned the right to rest players and it may benefit them in the long-term.
Eyebrows were raised over Huddersfield Town’s decision to make 10 changes in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Birmingham City. The Terriers, who the Owls could face in the play-offs, have been asked by the EFL this week to explain their team selection. The result will stand but Huddersfield are expected to be fined.
Nottingham Forest manager Mark Warburton and Blackburn Rovers chief Tony Mowbray questioned Wagner’s line-up. Blackburn are in a three-way fight with Birmingham and Forest to avoid the final relegation spot.
“Maybe he [Wagner] is not aware of the way the British game is played, and the integrity of all the leagues,” said Mowbray. “Everybody should be trying to win every game.”
I take Mowbray’s point, but managers have to look after their own club and do what they deem fit. Nobody will bat an eyelid if the Owls or Fulham field ‘second-string’ teams. Will they be punished? Of course not.
Teams have to play 46 matches in the Championship. If Blackburn are relegated, it will be because they haven’t been good enough over that period.