Sheffield Wednesday: Clean sheets no concern for stylish Carvalhal
Considering Carlos Carvalhal was a defender during his playing career, some people may have assumed that he would build his Wednesday team from the back.
Surely one of the likable Portuguese chief’s top priorities would be chalking up lots of clean sheets? Surely Carvalhal, the Owls’ first non-British manager in their 149-year history, planned on turning them into a hard side to break down?
Well, he has succeeded in making Wednesday a well organised unit - but they most certainly are not a defensive-minded team.
For Carvalhal is not overly concerned with keeping clean sheets. Indeed, he made the somewhat surprising admission after their victory away at Fulham two months ago.
He told me: “My culture is I don’t care too much about clean sheets. If we don’t concede any goals and score goals, I am happy because we win.”
All Carvalhal is interested in is attractive, winning football. His side have duly delivered, earning rave reviews for their aggressive, entertaining style of play. They are one of the top-scorers in the division.
But in racking up their 11th Championship shut-out of the campaign at Hull City last Friday, Carvalhal’s men illustrated yet again that there is a good shape and structure to their play. Everybody knows their jobs.
Carvalhal’s team selection raised eyebrows at the KC Stadium. It looked a risky call to change three of the back four against a side riding high at the top of table.
In recent months, Liam Palmer, Michael Turner and Joe Bennett have barely featured. Would they be rusty?
The trio rose to the occasion and more than justified their inclusions, putting in rock-solid performances.
“They all absolutely fantastic,” claimed Carvalhal. “I’m happy with our defensive line.
“Michael did very well as he hadn’t played in a while. It was not a surprise to me how he played.
“Tom Lees is doing better and better after his injury. Liam was fantastic again. He’s very consistent. Joe also showed what he can do. We are happy with all the players.
“I trusted the players who came in. I gave them a chance to play in a hard game. It means we trust them 100 per cent and their answer was fantastic.
“All of the group are happy, working hard and waiting for their opportunity to play.”
Next up is Rotherham United at Hillsborough and Carvalhal faces a selection dilemma. Does he recall Jack Hunt and Daniel Pudil in the full-back positions or keep faith with Palmer and Bennett? Will he stick with Turner at centre-back?
These are all nice problems for Carvalhal to have going into the final 12 matches of the season.