Sheffield Wednesday can measure their progress this season on their defeats and not just their victories. There have been three of the former – all against teams strongly fancied for promotion.
It’s these reverses – against Ipswich, Middlesbrough and a Burnley team just relegated from the Premier League who won despite being largely outplayed at Turf Moor – that set the big challenge for Carlos Carvalhal’s management team, presenting the gap to be bridged. Wednesday’s performances against just about everyone else suggest it is not insurmountable.
Now two more similar assignments are coming in quick succession, with Hull at Hillsborough on Saturday ahead of a Tuesday trip to QPR.
“These are big tests for us against sides packed with good players at this level,” says coach Lee Bullen.
“But we are a stronger team now, the players have bought into Carlos’s philosophy and you can see that it is bearing fruit.”
Bullen, along with keeper coach Andy Rhodes, has done the same after surviving the changeover.
“He brought in three Portuguese coaches and we could have been outcasts but Carlos insisted they spoke in English for us,” says Lee.
“I pictured myself stepping back down to the Under 21s but we have built trust and understanding between us. It’s a good relationship.
“Carlos is very warm and welcoming. Also tough. If he decides to flip that switch, he’ll go – but that’s rare and he’s always very positive.”