Sheffield Wednesday: Carlos Carvalhal begins Championship play-off mind games

Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal has already started the pre-Championship play-off mind games, claiming his Owls side are “not favourites” to earn a place in the Premier League.

Wednesday, last season’s beaten play-off finalists, will be searching for a seventh consecutive league victory when they welcome Fulham to Hillsborough on Sunday. It is the Owls’ final match of the regular season and Carvalhal’s men will discover over the weekend who they will play in the end-of-season shootout.

The Championship play-offs, which get underway a week on Saturday, look set to be contested by Reading, Huddersfield Town, Wednesday and Fulham.

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Carvalhal told The Star: “We are not outsiders anymore and we haven’t been since the beginning of the season. It has not been easy managing the expectation levels.

“But we are not favourites (for the play-offs). We have a 25 per cent chance just like the other teams.”

The Owls reached Wembley in 2016 after beating Brighton and Hove Albion, who narrowly missed out on automatic promotion, 3-1 on aggregate over two legs.

However, Wednesday came unstuck in the final, losing 1-0 to Hull City.

“The reality is we don’t know what will happen in the play-offs but we have full confidence in our team and players,” said Carvalhal.

“At this moment, I think things are more balanced. Each team has a 25 per cent chance.

“We have the experience from last season. We are playing with confidence and are in a good moment.

“We have very good expectations but we must respect all the opponents. We will try to reach the final and after let’s see what we can achieve.”

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An emotional Carvalhal couldn’t hide his relief after the Owls confirmed a top-six finish last weekend. He enjoyed celebrating at Portman Road with the travelling fans post match.

He acknowledged: “It has been a very hard season. The biggest challenge for a manager is managing expectations. It has been difficult because we have had a lot of problems with injuries and so on.

“But the real fans of Sheffield Wednesday have been with us throughout, especially in the bad periods. Their support was very important in putting the boat the right way.”

Now Carvalhal has switched his attentions to finishing the regular season on a positive note. After a long, gruelling campaign, Carvalhal could give some of his fringe players valuable game time. Joe Wildsmith, Liam Palmer, Vincent Sasso, Morgan Fox, Callum McManaman, Jose Semedo, Will Buckley and Marco Matias are in contention to be involved.

Carvalhal said: “The important thing was to achieve a play-off place. We have managed that with a game to go.

“We will take the Fulham game seriously and play at a high level. We will do our best to win the game but we know it will be tough.”

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