Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal admits the ‘Neil Warnock effect’ is likely to make Cardiff City a much tougher proposition tonight.
The 67-year-old took charge of the struggling Bluebirds last week and has enjoyed an encouraging start in his latest outing as football’s Red Adair.
Victory over Bristol City in Warnock’s first game last Friday was enough to lift Cardiff out of the relegation zone – at least until last night when results saw them return there. But hopes are high in the Welsh capital that it won’t be long before the club us clear of trouble.
Wednesday know all about the impact that the former manager of their Steel City rivals can have on taking over a club. Last March, Carvalhal’s side slipped to a shock home defeat against a Warnock-inspired Rotherham United that proved to be one of only two reverses at Hillsborough all season.
“Cardiff will probably be more difficult than Huddersfield as they play different,” said the Portuguese, fresh from Sunday’s hugely impressive victory at the John Smith’s Stadium. “But we understand how they play.
“We prefer to play against Cardiff from the last three or four weeks, not this Cardiff. The style isn’t too different but they have upgraded things from the new coach.
“We understand it will be a tough game, as they have a good team and are organised. They also have a good coach. But we study the way that they play and we are confident we can get a good result. We know what we have to do. We know how they will attack and defend. We know how they do their transitions. They will probably know how we play. Even with a short time, we will be ready for all the questions they put to us.
“We hope we can do a good game. We will fight for the three points.”
Steven Fletcher could return for the Owls tonight after missing the Huddersfield win for personal reasons but Lucas Joao is still out with a calf problem.
The triumph at the John Smith’s was well deserved, with Carvalhal’s tactical plan to crowd out the influential Kasey Palmer and restrict the space afforded the two home full-backs working a treat. After a stuttering start to the campaign, Wednesday have started to move through the gears with a seven-game run that has yielded 15 points.
Another victory tonight would be a further step towards the sort of season that was expected after Carvalhal’s men came within one game of winning promotion last time out. Warnock, though, will be desperate to prevent that happening.
“Football is not about the coaches,” said Carvalhal, when asked about his Cardiff counterpart. “It is about the teams. I talked last season with Warnock. I appreciate a lot the talk with him. He is a very interesting person. He’s a good coach who has had a very nice career. I enjoyed talking to him. I’m looking forward to meeting him again and talking. He is a good coach.
“But we must focus on the way Cardiff play. That is the most important thing.”
Wednesday are flying to the Principality in an attempt to alleviate any tiredness in a squad that will be in action again on Saturday at home to Queens Park Rangers.
Carvalhal had been critical of the scheduling that has seen Cardiff enjoy five days to prepare for tonight’s game due to last playing on Friday but yesterday he was keen to draw a line under the matter. “It is a massive difference but I have talked about this situation before,” he added. “We are not in the same conditions but I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I am not complaining about anything.”
Last six games: Cardiff City LLWLLW, Sheffield Wednesday WLWWLW
Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).
Last time: Cardiff City 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2; December 12, 2015; Championship.