Oozing confidence and charisma, Carlos Carvalhal delivered a slick, polished performance following his formal introduction to the local and national media.
Rather than being overrawed by a packed press conference, Carvalhal revelled in the spotlight yesterday. He enjoyed and embraced the attention.
First impressions are important and Carvalhal’s charming, engaging personality shone through from the start. His grasp of the English language is good and he made it clear on several occasions that he wants to play attractive, attacking football. Putting bums on seats is one of his big objectives.
With chairman Dejphon Chansiri targeting promotion to the Premier League by 2017 in time to celebrate their 150th anniversary, the pressure is on Carvalhal to back up his eloquent words with positive results. But the 49-year-old Portuguese, who has managed some top European clubs, including Besiktas and Sporting Lisbon, insists he is ready for the tougher challenges that lie ahead.
“I have work in different environments in Portugal, Greece and Turkey; as you know, they can be difficult environments because you have a gun at your head all the time,” said Carvalhal, who confirmed he has previously had offers to coach in British football.
“Next match, if you don’t win then they will fire you. That is what I have lived with all my career. But I believe the environment in England is different.
“I am ready for the pressure because I live with it all the time. It is not difficult to me. I live with it.
“It is not pressure to want promotion (in two years’ time). I believe it is realistic. And it will be more realistic if we take the correct steps.
“We must play good football, bring the fans to our stadium and put a fantastic environment here. That is important and if we do that, we will be a stronger team and win more matches.
“We need to make no mistakes when recruiting players. If we improve the quality this year, I believe that next year we will be ready to be a strong team. I am sure of this.”
Following a protracted search, Wednesday confirmed Carvalhal as their new head coach 10 days ago. Carvalhal, a former defender, was a surprise choice to succeed Stuart Gray. Few people in the football fraternity saw it coming.
After all, Carvalhal has been in charge of 14 clubs in as many years and none in the last three while Gray led the Owls to a respectable 13th-placed finish last season.
Chansiri, speaking through an interpreter, revealed the club interviewed “many, many candidates” for the job.
“They all had positives and all had negatives,” he said. “We interviewed many, many candidates.
“English managers were among them and also foreign managers.
“The reason I chose Carlos was the way he trains, the style he plays and, most importantly, his personality.
“I get along with him very well. He was the most suitable man for the philosophy and how I want Sheffield Wednesday to play.”
The Thai businessman, who purchased the club in March, declined to divulge the length of Carvalhal’s contract and refused to be drawn on their interest in Swindon Town boss Mark Cooper.
It is understood Wednesday sounded out Cooper last month and wanted to bring him in to assist Carvalhal.
What Chansiri did shed more light on was why he controversially sacked Gray.
“It took us a long time (over Stuart Gray) because it was a very tough decision,” he admitted. “I like Stuart very much, he is a good man.
“But I felt we needed to make the change. We have not had any success for the past 15 years and I have to make decisions for the best of Sheffield Wednesday.”
For Carvalhal, he feels he has earned the chance to test himself in English football.
He said: “I don’t decrease my career.
“Coaches as big players get a big club to start at but I was given nothing. I started in the third division and moved up to second division.
“I got to the first and when I got there, I went to lower clubs. But then I got to the Europa League and after that, I got a big club like Sporting.
“Then after that, Besiktas. No-one helped me but I worked in difficult environments to move up.”
Someone Carvalhal has crossed paths once or twice with in recent years is José Mourinho. The duo took their UEFA Pro Licence together.
He said: “He [Mourinho] is my friend, but he is not a friend I talk to every day, every month or even every year. Sometimes we talk.
“I’m a very good friends with Rui Faria, his number two. We studied in the same university, we specialised in football together and studied for five years together. I’m big friends with him.
“I have three situations in common with Mourinho. I was coach of Setubal and in that club, all the team love us because we promoted the team second to the first tier.
“After three years, we went back to the team and won the League Cup, was in the Europa League and we went to the semi-finals of the other cup. We did absolutely fantastic in different competitions in one year. All the time the club was near bankruptcy. T
“his is one point of the interception we have with Jose. We did the Pro License together so we stayed one month in the same place, between morning and night studying. T
“he third, when I was coach with Leixoes, we started in the third division and we was in the final of the cup, the champion was Sporting. For the first time we played the group stage of the Europa League and at that time he was the coach of Porto so he followed us, looking at European matches and also some Championship matches as well. Those are the three interception points I have with Mourinho.”
He stressed: “Jose is Jose, I’m Carlos. We are completely different persons and personalities. He is just one of the people I appreciate much in work.
All the coaches want his success. We have different ways of playing football, and that is normal. We have similar ideas of how to prepare the team, with Rui Faria being my team mate at university. About play it is completely different.
“We talked, but more with Rui, in the last few days about the Championship, about the environment, a lot of things. It is something more when there is a special occasion or something to say.”
Will Carvalhal turn out to be Wednesday’s ‘Special One’?
We will soon find out.