Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Why Carlos Carvalhal deserves huge amount of credit

Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal

The prospect of Wednesday competing in the end-of-season play-offs looked in serious doubt a month ago.

I wasn’t feeling too confident over the Owls’ chances after they dropped out of the top-six following their draw away to Barnsley. Their form was up-and-down and performances unconvincing.

Fast forward a month and Wednesday are on the verge of sealing a second successive top-six finish after an outstanding five-match winning streak. They have momentum in the final straight and are in a commanding position.

“To win five games in a row in any division is an achievement but in the Championship, it’s exceptional,” said coach Lee Bullen after their come-from-behind triumph over bogey side Derby County.

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It has been a remarkable transformation in their fortunes.

So how have Wednesday turned the corner?

Carlos Carvalhal’s tactical tweaks deserve acknowledgement.

He played three recognised strikers against Rotherham United, deploying Gary Hooper in the number 10 position. His changes paid off and silenced some of his detractors.

Carvalhal made the brave decision to drop Jordan Rhodes to the bench in the Owls’ memorable win over Newcastle United, pairing Hooper with Steven Fletcher up front. Hooper created havoc in the hour he was on the pitch and Fletcher headed in the decisive second goal. Daniel Pudil also come in from the cold and put in a man-of-the-match display.

“I’m not afraid to make decisions,” said Carvalhal. “I make decisions that I understand are best for the team.

“I trust in all the players and I never look at the cost of the players.”

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Carvalhal said ‘everything will be all reyt’ and his three substitutions made the difference versus Neil Warnock’s obdurate, hard-working Cardiff City outfit.

Messrs Rhodes, Fernando Forestieri and Atdhe Nuhiu swung the contest Wednesday’s way.

Carvalhal has managed his resources superbly in the run-in. He rested Fletcher in the Easter Monday encounter against Queens Park Rangers, choosing to freshen up his forward line. He restored Rhodes to his starting line-up and the prolific marksman played his part in the winner at Loftus Road. His header from point blank range was kept out by Alex Smithies but Pudil nodded in the follow up.

There was no sense of panic in the home technical area when Derby went ahead last weekend. Carvalhal tinkered with his attacking options, taking off the tired-looking Kieran Lee for Rhodes. Although Rhodes had no hand in either of Wednesday’s goals, his presence lifted the crowd.

Carvalhal has got his decisions spot on and has the Owls moving in the right direction.

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