AS Sheffield Wednesday stand on the verge of a possible Premier League return, head coach Carlos Carvalhal has revealed his desire to stay at Hillsborough for a decade.
The Portuguese arrived in English football as a total unknown last summer when appointed as Stuart Gray’s successor.
Wednesday had a slow start under the much-travelled Carvalhal, but a nine-game unbeaten run in autumn turned the club’s season around and tomorrow a travelling army of 40,000 fans will descend on Wembley for the Championship play-off final against Hull City believing promotion is their destiny.
Carvalhal, together with ambitious chairman Dejphon Chansiri, has rightly been hailed for his role in what the head coach describes as “the waking of a giant”.
His reward came last month via a contract extension that, at the time, was presumed to be a one-year rolling affair.
Yesterday, however, the 50-year-old revealed the deal will keep him at Wednesday until at least 2019. That would represent considerably the longest time he has spent at one club in a coaching career that has taken in four countries, an indication of how settled Carvalhal feels in the Steel City.
“I am good with my life,” said the Owls’ boss when asked about being tied to the club for another three years.
“If this happens (staying) I am happy. Being happy is the people around you enjoying what you are doing. If they are happy, I can stay here 10 years. If they aren’t, it will be different for me.
“But I believe I can stay here a long, long time. The team grew very fast. The club were stuck for more than 15 years. We needed a lot of steps to jump to another level. This is a really big club, but there were a lot of things which needed to develop.”
Carvalhal’s plan to stick around at Hillsborough goes against a growing trend in football that has seen managerial reigns get shorter, as was revealed yesterday by the League Managers’ Association.
Seventy managerial changes were made across the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs in 2015-16, 56 of which were dismissals and the remainder resignations. “The worst ever,” is how LMA chief executive Richard Bevan described the statistics.
Wednesday’s head coach has spent most of his career in countries with a more pronounced sacking culture. Before arriving at Hillsborugh, he had been in charge of 14 clubs in as many years across leagues in Portugal, Greece and Turkey.
“I signed for another three years here,” said Carvalhal about his new deal. “I didn’t want to sign for that long, I wanted one year. But the chairman wanted three.
“I want to stay at clubs when people are happy with me – the fans, the chairman, the players – and when I am also happy. So, I don’t have any problems to move if the people aren’t happy.
“I work in countries in a different culture. I saw what the LMA said about there being 18 moves of manager in the Championship this season. They say the average time (for a managerial reign) in the Championship is one year and three months. That is nothing new to me. Probably in Turkey, it is six months you survive. Portugal is nine months, no more.
“It is modern football. We will see CVs of coaches with more clubs in the future, not like Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. That won’t be the reality and it is inevitable, in my opinion. I stay at the clubs the time I am happy.
“We are doing very well in terms of the quality of the football. But the club must grow, we have a lot of things to do.”
Carvalhal’s impressive first year in English football has left Wednesday potentially just 90 minutes from ending a 16-year absence from the Premier League.
Promotion would bring weekly trips to Old Trafford, Anfield and all the other cathedrals of English football, while in financial terms being among the elite has never been more rewarding.
Whoever prevails at Wembley tomorrow can look forward to a windfall of £200m over the next three years thanks to the Premier League’s new £8bn TV deal kicking in next August.
To put that sum into perspective, Norwich City’s triumph in last year’s play-off final guaranteed the Norfolk club £130m even if – as happened – they were relegated after just 12 months.
For the Owls, this would represent unprecedented riches.
When last in the top flight, Wednesday’s total revenue was £18m – at least six times less than the South Yorkshire club can expect next season if promoted.
Carvalhal, however, insists money is not his motivation.
Instead, a sense of happiness is his goal and bringing Premier League football back to S6 will certainly help in that respect.
“I don’t have any problem in my life,” he added. “Don’t think I am arrogant, but I must be happy to work.
“When the people aren’t happy I don’t stay in this club or any. I don’t have any economical problems, so to me it’s okay.
“When I go out of the club, I think all the time if I finish they are losing a good coach. It is not arrogance, it is just what I feel.
“So, one day if Sheffield Wednesday fire me, they will lose a good coach. It is what I think in that moment.”
Back in the firing line: Page 26.