Carlos Carvalhal has cooled talk of a promotion tilt this season, claiming there are several teams who are stronger than his Sheffield Wednesday side in the Championship.
Despite leading the Owls to a sixth-placed finish and the Play-Off final, Carvalhal believes it will arguably be even harder to emulate that success this time around.
As the Portuguese chief is keen to point out, Wednesday ended up 15 points worse off than third-placed Brighton and Hove Albion last campaign.
Carvalhal is tipping the Seagulls, Derby County and the three newly relegated clubs: Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Norwich City, to strongly figure in the promotion shake-up. He also thinks there are “two or three” other clubs who have recruited prudently over the summer who will be in contention for the play-offs.
Carvalhal said: “If I say we are candidates to get promoted, I am not correct. There are teams who are probably more strong than us. But it doesn’t mean we can’t beat them.
“Take the Benfica friendly. They are a very strong team who are much better than us but we played compact and we won.
“We will continue to take things game by game and see where we end up at the end of the season.”
In a recent newspaper interview in his homeland, Carvalhal, a popular figure with Owls fans, revealed he held “direct talks” with two Premier League clubs this summer.
Carvalhal, who penned a new contract in April, tying him to Wednesday until 2019, has refused to reveal the identity of the two clubs. He claims he could have moved on but is happy staying put.
“I’m at a period of my career where I don’t change my happiness with money,” he stated. “When I’m happy, comfortable, like the people and motivated, I don’t move.It is just if someone fires me.
“I don’t need to move from a club where I am happy. The fans are fantastic. I have very good support from the fans. What reason do I have to move?”
Carvalhal and his Owls squad flew out to the Algarve to begin a five-day training camp yesterday. They will take on Portuguese outfit CD Nacional in a friendly match at the Estadio Albufeira Municipal Stadium on Sunday, kick-off 7:30pm. Twenty fours later, the Owls will lock horns with Portimonense.
Carvalhal is pleased with the progress they have made in pre-season. Wednesday have won two out of their three warm-up matches and Carvalhal feels the Nacional and Portimonense fixtures will provide them with stern tests as the new season gets ever closer.
He said: “In these two games, we must be good in all moments of the games. We must attack very well, try to score goals and must defend very well.
“We will play against two strong teams. They will be balanced games. We hope that we can progress and recover players.”