Sheffield Wednesday: Carvalhal has embraced English style, says Lees

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CARLOS CARVALHAL may proudly hail from Portugal, but in terms of his footballing credos, he is fully-paid up Anglophile.

That’s the verdict of Sheffield Wednesday centre-half Tom Lees, with any preconceptions that Carvalhal would impose a wholly continental style of play which was lacking in Championship savvy upon his charges on arriving at Hillsborough soon dissipating.

Owls' Tom Lees.

Owls' Tom Lees.

While the likes of Marinus Dijkhuisen, Guy Luzon and Uwe Rosler – all heavily influenced by their experiences abroad – having become footnotes in their recent club’s histories already this season alongside scores of others before them, Carvalhal is flying the flag for Championship coaches from the continent alongside a fellow Iberian in Middlesbrough’s Aitor Karanka.

Just as Karanka has built some firm foundations at Boro on a rock-solid defence, prodigious work rate and team ethic and an English core, so Carvalhal is doing the same at Wednesday, with the results of his graft currently there for all to see in the shape of a substantive 11-match unbeaten run.

Lees, part of an Owls rearguard who secured their fourth clean sheet in five games after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with leaders Brighton, said: “As someone who has played in the Championship quite a long time, I just hoped that when Carlos came in he would accept some of the English ways.

“Some managers are too proud and try to play a total (football) way and don’t accept other aspects of the game.

“But I think Carlos has been really good in the way he has embraced it and kept a lot of English players with Championship experience.

“He knows and is not naive enough to think he can tip tap his way through the Championship so that’s good.

“You have to work hard and I think it’s clear to see in the last few weeks how hard we have been working.

“People might not associate with that a foreign style of play and all the foreign players we have got and coaches, but that’s one thing we are doing.”

Both Lees and Carvalhal are also singing from the same hymnsheet in their fervent desire that Wednesday don’t surrender their 11-game unbeaten run so painstakingly composed prior the impending international break either.

Like all good managers worth their salt, Carvalhal also pays fastidious attention to numerical detail and is mindful of a little piece of history when in charge of one of several clubs he has led in his homeland.

Carvalhal added: “I remember when I was with Vitoria Setubal and we started the season in Portugal, I lost the 13th game in Porto 2-0 and was unbeaten in 12 games and they beat us in that 13th game. We were number one candidates to be relegated and had a fantastic season also.

“I remember that time in this moment. We are in a very good way and winning games and playing good football, face to face with strong teams. And we will fight in the future.”

It will perhaps be no surprise when the Championship takes a break for a fortnightly-hiatus after Saturday’s action that the line-up of the vast majority of the sides in the top-six picture will be consistent for one fact.

Namely the depth of squad quality in most of those upwardly-mobile sides, with the embarrassment of riches that the likes of Derby, Hull, Boro and Wednesday possess being something that teams such as Rotherham, Huddersfield and Bolton are entitled to cast envious glances at.

A barometer of the Owls’ strength was such that recent signing Gary Hooper was kept in reserve during Tuesday night’s stalemate with Brighton at Hillsborough.

Granted, many Wednesdayites – especially given a positive result at crisis club Charlton on Saturday – may have cause to remark that the international break could have come at an untimely juncture.

But in terms of Hooper, Carvalhal sees real benefits.

The Portuguese admits that the Owls’ crammed schedule has starved Hooper, who joined just over a week ago from Norwich City, from quality time on the training pitch at Middlewood getting tactically up to speed with his new team-mates.

But when the Championship resumes on November 21, when the Owls play host to Huddersfield, Hooper should be fully ready, according to Carvalhal.

On Hooper, who had a brief late cameo coming off the bench in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, he said: “We bring in the player (Hooper) to help us and play.

“But he has come in at a very difficult moment because he came after the Arsenal game and two days of training later, we have a game and three days later, we have a game again.

“He doesn’t yet understand how we play. It is not a question of the player, it is that he doesn’t know his colleagues and hasn’t really trained yet.

“But I am very happy he is with us and he will be valuable to us in the future, I am sure.”