Five things we have learned from the new eras at Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield United's manager Nigel Adkins  (Picture: Philip Oldham/SportImage)
Sheffield United's manager Nigel Adkins (Picture: Philip Oldham/SportImage)
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It is hard to believe that Nigel Adkins and Carlos Carvalhal have only been in charge of Steel City rivals United and Wednesday for just a few short months.

The duo both arrived in the summer and have been in charge of Sheffield football for a combined 29 matches.

Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Adkins was appointed June 2 and given the remit to succeed where previous managers like Nigel Clough, David Weir and Danny Wilson had failed; to get the Blades back into the Championship.

Of the 16 games in charge so far, he has won 50 per cent, eight matches, drawn three (technically one of those was a win, as the JPT game with Hartlepool went to penalties) and lost five.

The first of those was a crushing 4-0 opening day loss at Gillingham, but since then United have improved - and with key men returning from injury - are sat in sixth place and have leaders Walsall in their sights.

While the pressure is on Adkins to gain promotion this season, progression is the key for his cross-city colleague Carvalhal.

Nobody seriously expected Wednesday - not even with the input of cash from new owner Dejphon Chansiri - to be challenging for a spot in the Premier League this term.

Next year was always the realistic target, but that does not mean the Owls can afford to be complacent.

The off-field infrastructure is being improved - from plush new changing rooms at Hillsborough to a revamped training ground - while the squad has seen some costly additions.

Under Carvalhal, appointed four weeks after Adkins on June 30, the Owls are also producing some attractive football - a pre-requisite for new owner Chansiri. After the ‘grey’ football of a defensive-minded Stuart Gray, Carvalhal’s style is rainbow-like.

True, Wednesday still lack a striker with real Championship experience that can bring them close to that 20-goal-a-season forward every club aspires to, but apart from that they have a squad which will only improve with time.

A look at the stats sees Wednesday have won seven of the 13 games (a 54 per cent success rate) under Carvalhal this season, drawing three, losing three.

What five things have we learned so far this season at Bramall Lane?

1. The Blades will be serious promotion challengers when injured stars like John Brayford finally return from injury. United have a decent-sized squad, but when casualties start creeping towards double figures, it has to have an impact.

2. Teenager Che Adams offers United something they lack, real penetration from the flanks with an eye for goal. His two goals against Rochdale last week were examples of this.

3. United fans need to keep the faith. Crowds at Bramall Lane have been excellent, and with many visiting teams looking to park ‘the bus’, Unitedites need to stay patient.

4. No Cup distractions. Losing to Fulham in the League Cup may have been a blessing in disguise. Last season United’s minds were distracted by a high-profile cup run and two-legged glamour semi-final against Tottenham. The season before, was an FA Cup semi-final appearance. Early cup exits this season at least mean the focus will be on the league.

5. Keep clean sheets. The Blades will always score goals at this level with the likes of Adams, Matt Done, Billy Sharp and Conor Sammon in attack. But they need to tighten up the defence. Four clean sheets so far in the league; improving that can only improve United’s chances of success this season.

What five things have we learned so far at Hillsborough?

1. The fans chant ‘Carlos had a dream...’ and Owls supporters are also starting to dream after a decent start to the season. Need to make sure the fantasies are realistic, though. Talk of promotion after 11 Championship games is way too premature.

2. The next month will be a good indicator. Wins against Bristol City, Preston and Brentford - three times in the bottom six - plus Fulham were decent, but the quality of opponents gets tougher now with Hull City, QPR, Forest and Brighton all on the horizon in the next month. Get a decent points haul from those four games and suddenly, expectations will rocket through the roof.

3. Massive is an oft-used term when it comes to Wednesday, but their squad really is. Keeping them all happy will be tough. Winning games takes the pressure off head coach Carvalhal, but start to lose a few and suddenly murmors can start of unrest in the camp.

4. Don’t sit back on a lead. Too often this season, the Owls seem to take their foot off the gas when in front, and invite the opposition back into the contest. Happened against Fulham, Brentford and Preston to create some nervous endings.

5. How we do solve a problem like Maria... or in this case Lewis McGugan. An extremely talented player who has struggled to get a starting place under Carvalhal. With Fernando Forestieri playing just off the lone striker, and players of the ilk of Barry Bannan, Ross Wallace, Kieran Lee and Sam Hutchinson in midfield - not to mention the continental flair of Marco Matias and Alex Lopez - Carvalhal is struggling to accommodate the summer signing from Watford.