Anyone can trot out that “we can beat anyone in this league” line. As a quote in common currency it is two a penny. But when did you last hear a Sheffield Wednesday boss say it, as Carlos Carvalhal did last weekend? It’s a big statement then, right?
Yes. Big for the club and also big for the head coach to be that bold. Because it sets a new benchmark, well above the modest aspirations of recent seasons at an outfit which, in terms of stature and support, should be aiming much higher.
If it is dangerous for a coach to talk up such expectations then the previously cautious Carlos is not shying away from that.
Another good sign right there, an indication of a confidence and conviction within Hillsborough that Wednesday can realistically aim higher this season than their current ninth place.
Supporters have been sensibly reserved in their immediate expectations of a new owner, coach and team.
This column, too, has been careful not to get “carried away” – other than by people walking away from newsagent shops (as they still do, I’m told).
But, after studiously waiting a dozen games to make a proper judgment, Carlos is no longer coy. These were his words to me after the 1-1 draw with Hull City last weekend: “This was a big challenge against the strongest team in this division. We have no fear of them and we have a strong team. We understand now probably that we can beat all the opponents in this competition.”
Note “can” and not “will” but it’s still a telling comment.
It tells his players they have set a standard that has to be maintained, as they apparently did, with a squad-rotated sided, in a midweek draw at Loftus Road where former top official Mark Halsey of You Are The Ref (a QPR fan!) insisted Wednesday should have had a penalty and been playing against ten men.
All of this tells supporters that they are within their rights to hope for, if not demand, a top six finish.
It’s a significant shift, one certainly not lost on Hull boss Steve Bruce who spoke generously of the blue-and-white-half of a city he came to know when in charge of Sheffield United.
Bruce told me: “This Wednesday team knows what it’s doing, the best we’ve seen for a good few years. Looking through it, they have two centre-halves who are tough and strong in Tom Lees and Michael Turner; Hutchinson sits in front to protect them and, with Wallace and Bannan on either side, they’re a decent team.
“The crowd seem to be well behind them, too. It’s good to see that Sheffield Wednesday are turning it round again. They’ll do ok.”
Even then, Carlos’s words are more meaningful in that he’s looking for much better than “ok.”
Turn around ok to get ko. For “kick on.”