UNDER-PRESSURE head coach Carlos Carvalhal last night launched an impassioned defence of his record at the helm of Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls and their Portuguese boss have endured a wretched week, as a humbling 4-2 defeat at home to Steel City rivals United was followed by a midweek loss at struggling Birmingham City.
Frustrations boiled over in the away seats at St Andrews as supporters booed their side from the field to leave Carvalhal badly needing a response from his side against Leeds United tomorrow in what is shaping up to be a potentially defining clash of his reign.
The Wednesday chief, for his part, plans to stick around and finish a job he has had plenty of chances to leave behind since taking charge in the summer of 2015.
He said: “At the end of last season, it was easy for me to leave Sheffield Wednesday. Because of what we had achieved in the last two seasons, my staff and I received invitations (to go elsewhere).
“We received invitations to the Premier League in the first year. I received a lot of invitations to the Championship last year when I was out of contract. Some of the clubs had big budgets and a lot of money to spend, but I decided to stay.
“Why did I decide to stay? Because I like the chairman (Dejphon Chansiri), I like Sheffield Wednesday, I like my players and I don’t want to turn my back on Sheffield Wednesday. It was my decision.
“But if I had left, I would have left after seeing good, fantastic performances. Since the start of the (Championship) play-offs in 1987, Sheffield Wednesday was never there.
“We achieved two play-offs, the third best rating of points in the history of Sheffield Wednesday and the best rating of points in the last 50 years.
“I believe if I had left at that moment and then had come back to Sheffield Wednesday after 10, 15 or 20 years, the people would remember me as a coach who did the right things for the club.”
Carvalhal signed a new one-year contract extension shortly before the end of last season, but that has done little to temper speculation about his future in the wake of last Sunday’s demoralising derby loss to the Blades.
Some have even suggested another defeat tomorrow could bring the curtain down on the affable 51-year-old’s reign.
“One win and one draw doesn’t make a good or bad coach,” replied Yorkshire’s longest-serving manager when asked if he feared the sack should Leeds prevail at Hillsborough in the televised clash.
“I understand the fast-food society nowadays, but I don’t feel a pressure that if I lose a game, something will happen to me. I don’t think like that.
“I am not afraid of anything. I am very calm, confident and trying to get my players to enjoy the game.
“It is not easy, but these kind of things can happen, but I didn’t turn my back on Sheffield Wednesday.
“Why would I walk away? When I have a team who play like they did in the last game against Birmingham. The players fought hard and they believe in what we are doing. We played well and that is what matters to me.
“We have one point more compared to the first year (at the corresponding stage) and minus one compared to the second season. We want more of course, but we are near the teams like Aston Villa, Fulham and Reading.
“A lot of teams are near us; if something happens to us it must also happen to most of my colleagues in the Championship.
“I am very resilient and I trust a lot in my players, my fans and the chairman. They will not turn their back on the team. I am absolutely sure.”
Counterpart Thomas Christiansen also heads into tomorrow’s White Rose clash on the back of a defeat. The 3-1 midweek loss at Cardiff City, however, was a rare blip in what has been a hugely encouraging start to life at Elland Road for the Dane.
Asked about Carvalhal’s position at Hillsborough, the United chief said: “I don’t know the club and I don’t know the pressure he will have.
“But it is normal in football, that after some defeats you are going to have the pressure on you to turn the situation around.
“This is what they demand from him – to have a win against us. It is a normal situation. (Carlo) Ancelotti was sacked the other day (by Bayern Munich) after a 3-0 loss against a very good team (Paris St Germain), who are probably one of the best in the world.”
Match preview: Page 3.