Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal has moved to explain Barry Bannan’s apparent place on the right of midfield, by suggesting the Scot isn’t actually playing there.
There have been assertions of late that Bannan’s relatively poor form, certainly in contrast to his superb impact last season, has been down to the midfielder apparently playing out of position on the right.
However, Carvalhal says that while Bannan might start games on the flank, he is not there for long.
It was clearly something that Carvalhal wanted to get off his chest and the Portuguese, speaking to the press ahead of Saturday’s trip to Fulham, went on to detail in depth Bannan’s job and why he hasn’t been operating strictly from the middle of the park.
“Barry Bannan when he plays in the centre, the opponents see Barry Bannan in the centre of the pitch and what some teams try to do - and we saw this before - when he starts in the centre they try to block our game, marking Barry Bannan most of the time,” explained Carvalhal. “One or another game he doesn’t have the chance to touch too many times the ball because they are marking him.
“In that position it’s more easy to mark him because he’s on the centre of the pitch, if you see one player in front of you, you mark him. So when he play on the right, you just saw him on the right side when he start to play, because after he comes inside to play in his normal position.
“When he plays on the right it is to get away from the markers. So when you start the ball from the goalkeeper for example he is on the right. But when we start moving the ball he comes from out of the marking to play the football.”
Carvalhal added that the idea was an attempt to make it difficult for the opposition to keep track of where his creative players are going to be.
“(People saying) ‘This player playing there is not good and this player there is out of position’ is not a reality. We have a dynamic and we try to put the players in the comfortable positions all the time, so when they start the game on the right or on the left, doesn’t mean the dynamic we want won’t be there. It will be there at the beginning but after five seconds he is in the centre.
“It can happen the opposite, sometimes you can start with play in the centre and after with the dynamic he’ll play on the left, to try to confuse the opponents.”
So that all begged the question, if Bannan’s form is not down to the position, then why hasn’t he reached the heights of last season?
The short answer to that, according to Carvalhal, is ‘exhaustion.’
“The problem is not this, the problem is when he was in national team he did a lot of training he played the games and he was completely exhausted,” he admitted.
“That was the big problem and we must take him out of one of the games and he is back again.
“Bannan is one of the players again, like Ross Wallace, like Fernando (Forestieri) we felt a massive difference between the Barry Bannan of two weeks ago and the Barry Bannan this week.
“He was more fresh, he didn’t play for national team, he is more fresh and this is more near the Barry Bannan. In that period he was exhausted with the national team, training hard in Scotland and in the games and Barry Bannan came here completely dead and everyone understood that when he played and after that I put him out. If I didn’t he would not play at all.
“It’s not because he played on the right.”
Wednesday go into the match at Craven Cottage with Carvalhal stating that there will be no hangover from the defeat to Ipswich two weeks ago. The coach says that poor performance was an exception.
“We say in Portugal that one bird don’t make the spring,” he said. “We believe we can create a lot of problems to them also. It will be a very tough and interesting game for both teams.”