Sheffield Wednesday: Owls chief hungry for goals over clean sheets

Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal

Keeping clean sheets is pretty low on Carlos Carvalhal’s agenda.

For the charismatic Portuguese head coach, winning matches by playing a stylish brand of football is far more important.

There was a puzzled look on Carvalhal’s face when I asked him how much pleasure he took from watching his makeshift Owls back four keep a shut out at Fulham last weekend.

“We don’t have a translation for clean sheet in Portugal,” he said.

“Nobody talks in my country about whether you have two, three or four clean sheets.

“We don’t rank how many clean sheets we keep. Why? Because we don’t care about that.

“We try to win the games and that is the most important thing. My culture is I don’t care too much about clean sheets. If we don’t concede any goals and score goals, I am happy because we win.”

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Given Wednesday’s big summer recruitment drive, it understandably took the team some time to adapt and embrace Carvalhal’s attacking philosophy.

And now all their hard work on the training ground is paying off. Carvalhal’s creative stars, including Ross Wallace, Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri, have brought his blueprint to life at Hillsborough.

The Owls have been involved in a number of high-scoring matches this campaign, earning rave reviews for their expansive, free-flowing football. They have already found the back of the net 22 times on home soil, netting six more goals than they managed in the whole of last term.

But what makes Wednesday’s performances and results over the Christmas period even more impressive is that they are missing a number of key individuals through injury.

Defensively Wednesday are short of options at centre-back, with Sam Hutchinson (groin/back), Michael Turner (knee) and Tom Lees (hamstring) all absent against Fulham.

Yet Carvalhal’s men still restricted Fulham, who they face in the third round of the FA Cup this weekend to few clear sights at goal, recording their eighth league shut-out of the season.

However, it is all about outscoring the opposition for Carvalhal. He regards a clean sheet as a bonus.

Carvalhal stressed: “If we let in one and score two, that is fantastic.

“If you ask me if I prefer to win 1-0 or 5-4, I prefer to win 5-4 because I want to entertain the fans. The fans will see nine goals in a fantastic environment and we win. I like to win.”

Should Wednesday continue to march up the Championship table, Carvalhal will be a very happy man.

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