CARLOS CARVALHAL insists that he is paying no attention to the Championship league table – despite seeing Sheffield Wednesday move to within a point of the top six at Christmas following an emphatic 4-1 drubbing of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Owls, who headed into the game on the back of a five-match winless sequence, got back on track in impressive fashion at Hillsborough to jump up three places up to seventh – just a point adrift of Ipswich Town , who currently occupy the final play-off position.
In the process, they recorded their biggest league victory of the campaign – and the most comprehensive of Carvalhal’s time in charge thus far – with the Owls extending their unbeaten league run on home soil to eight matches.
But despite professing delight at his team’s powerhouse display which ensured a first win over Wanderers in 11 attempts and a first against them at Hillsborough in over half a century since September 1964, the Portuguese was quick to play down any extra significance to yesterday’s win.
Carvalhal, whose side host Birmingham City at home on Boxing Day before travelling to leaders Middlesbrough for a televised fixture two days later, said: “We have come from 18th place after playing at Bolton (in September) and have progressed and, at this moment, we are in a good position.
“Everyone will understand that we played one way in August and play completely different now and are better.
“In the beginning, we had some problems. But if you take the first seven games out and look at us with the new players, then we would be in fourth place.
“But it is not important at this moment if we are sixth or fifth, fourth or third, second or first. The value of this is nothing.
“We are progressing and in a good way. But we have an important match against Birmingham on Boxing Day and let’s just focus on the next game.
“The most important thing in this competition is the balance. Don’t be under pressure when you lose and don’t be euphoric when you win.
“If you win two or three matches and everyone thinks you are the best team in the world and then when you lose one game, everyone thinks you are the worst, this is not good.
“We have a good team and if we act like a team, we can have results like on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, Carvalhal, whose side came from behind to triumph thanks to goals from Fernando Forestieri (2), Daniel Pudil and Gary Hooper – who netted for the first time at Hillsborough – dedicated yesterday’s victory to chairman Dejphon Chansiri.
The Thai magnate sanctioned a near £10m signings spree in the summer and Carvalhal has paid tribute to the unstinting support he has received from the owner.
He added: “I would like to dedicate the victory to our chairman because he is very happy.
“He deserves it as he suffers a lot with all the games. He is with us and the team and the players all the time.”
Despite some strong individual performances from the likes of Forestieri, Barry Bannan and several others, Carvalhal admitted to being far more satisfied with the collective efforts of his side, especially after defeat at MK Dons in midweek. The Owls produced arguably their worst performance of the season – at least in the first half – against Karl Robinson’s strugglers, with Carvalhal revealing that some players shed some tears of frustration in the aftermath of the disappointing loss.
Wednesday produced a far more composed and compact performance against Wolves, with Carvalhal pleased with his side’s aptitude and character.
He also revealed his pleasure at the Owls producing an all-too-rare victory over their bogey side, with the Black Country outfit boasting an unbeaten sequence against them stretching back to March 2006 – and having not conceded even in a goal in their last five meetings ahead of yesterday’s game.
He added: “Today was a challenge after the last game. Groups can get down, but champions (winning teams) are different.
“The challenge was to have a strong and fast reaction after the last game and we did that.
“The second challenge was beating Wolves. I think it’s been a lot of years since we have beaten Wolves and it was a challenge to us to break this kind of thing because we wanted to try our best to break this.
“The answer of the players was absolutely fantastic. Today, the team were a little more offensive also. We didn’t start well, but after 15 minutes, we started to control the game and we produced a fantastic score and a good performance with some goals against a difficult opponent.
“Today was the day for all my players. In the first 15 minutes, we didn’t play good. But after that, in organised attack, we played well and our defensive organisation was good.
“Our reaction to win the ball when we lost it was also fantastic and we controlled situations and were also very good at set-pieces.
“The most important thing was the reaction after Wolves scored, which was fantastic. I analyse the collective more than individual things that happen in football. The group is the most important thing for me.
“The team work very well and have a good dynamic. Because the team cannot win games alone.
“This is what I like and appreciate; the little things that mean we are more concentrated on the whole team than individual performance.”