Sheffield Wednesday: Football bosses urged to change festive schedule

Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal is entering uncharted territory.

This year will be the first time in the Portuguese chief’s nomadic coaching career that he has experienced the curious joys of an English football Christmas.

The Owls face the prospect of playing twice in the space of three days, starting at home to Birmingham City on Boxing Day. They will then travel to Championship leaders Middlesbrough for a televised tussle on Monday.

Carvalhal is calling on football’s schedulers to spread out the matches more over the festive schedule. Wednesday’s first ever foreign boss fears the busy programme could lead to a number of players picking up injuries over the New Year period.

While Carvalhal hopes his squad will put smiles on the fans’ faces this Christmas, he has expressed his concern over the holiday season programme.

The 50-year-old, linked with the vacant managerial position at Swansea City this week, told The Star: “It is a lot different in this country.

“The bad part of the situation is that all the players who play on December 26 and 28 will be big risks after these two games to be with pains.

“I’m sure that there will be a lot of injuries in the one or two weeks after these games in English football. Why? Because there are limits between the games and the recovery time for the players.

“The reality is the players will be in a red zone if they play twice in three days. I don’t agree with that part. I like this period but players need more time to recover between games.”

Carvalhal claims an extra day of rest “would make a big difference”, insisting: “The minimum players need between games is three days.”

After much deliberation, Carvalhal has decided against bringing in his multi-cultural squad for training tomorrow.

“I have talked with the players and agree with them,” he said. “I will give them a day to stay with their familes.

“It doesn’t have a big effect on our training.

“In my opinion, it is more the psychological part of the situation. It is important they stay with their families and then we will focus 100 per cent on the game.

“At the same, when we give freedom, we expect responsibility. It is a sign of trust in the players.”

Carvalhal insists he is looking forward to leading his players into battle at Hillsborough this weekend.

“I am professional; it (the schedule) is no problem to me,” he stressed. “Christmas is not important to me.

“My family is okay and we have work to do. If you do work, we are caring about the family and everybody understands that.

“The culture is completely different than in other countries,” he said. “I agree with the situation in England because we are here to entertain the people and they want to enjoy it.

“It will be fantastic. It will be better if we have a good atmosphere around the ground because Boxing Day is a party day.

“Hopefully our fans will play a big part and give us massive support to the team because we will need this on Saturday.”

Owls officials are hoping for a bumper crowd when they take on eighth-placed Birmingham City. They are level on points and just one goal separates the two sides. Tickets are priced at £5 for Under-17s in all sections of Hillsborough.

Carvalhal’s troops head into the clash seeking to stretch their unbeaten home run to 10 matches but Birmingham have been equally impressive on their travels, boasting a record of five wins and four draws on the road. Only fellow play-off contenders Middlesbrough, Derby County and Ipswich can better that record.

“We have analysed Birmingham; it will be more difficult than the last game, absolutely sure,” said Carvalhal. “They are doing well. They are a good, compact team.

“It will be a tough as they are a dangerous team away from home.

“But we are playing with confidence and will be ready. We can create a lot of difficulties for them. With the support of the fans, I believe we can win the match.”