AT THE end of Tuesday’s busy Championship programme, Sheffield Wednesday occupied the final play-off position ahead of Birmingham City only by virtue of goal difference.
Given that particular scenario, Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal was entitled – perhaps more than most - to shake his head with incredulity at the news that the Midlands outfit had axed manager Gary Rowett by the following afternoon.
Yet while the Owls’ Portuguese boss is not yet 18 months into what he hopes, in an ideal world at least, will be a long association with the Yorkshire club in his maiden footballing adventure in England, he has also quickly wised up to the management game in this country.
Namely that it is not too different after all to the volatile situation that he experienced – and probably grew weary off – back in his native Portugal when a manager’s life was pretty precarious and came with the equivalent of a health warning.
The rules of engagement being that one indifferent run meant one thing: the sack.
Thankfully for Carvalhal’s sake, his substantive tenure at Hillsborough thus far means that his position is relatively safe.
For that, Carvalhal, already the Championship’s fifth longest-serving manager despite only being appointed in June 2015, is probably thankful.
But it does not prevent his dismay at the wider managerial picture across the land, which represents something that has caught him by surprise.
Carvalhal, sacked on several occasions at clubs during his time in Portugal and with experiences of the cut-throat nature of management in both Greece and Turkey, said: “When I came to England a year and a half ago, I arrived here thinking Sir Alex Ferguson stayed a long time with Manchester United.
“But the (general) reality is completely different. I think the average length of a manager staying at a club is one year and three months.
“It is getting closer to my natural habitat. I came from a habitat where if you lose a game away and next game if you lost at home, you would be fired. That was the reality to me.
“I think it is very bad. Sometimes we talk about evolution in society and football, but to me this is the opposite.
“England was an an example to all the world about the stabilising of the coaches and to think about the future of the clubs. And now they are changing these kind of things in a negative way.
“I have worked in different countries. In England, they used to give time to the coaches to develop the team, which was a positive example. But if things carry on in the same way, England will be like other countries and I do not think that is good.”
Widely perceived by the managerial fraternity as having done a thoroughly sound and robust rebuilding job at St Andrews, Rowett was rightfully considered as one of the bright young things in Championship management.
But now the 42-year-old and his support staff find themselves out of work, although most shrewd observers do not expect that to be for too long, given their feats in the second city with comparatively modest resources.
Time to build teams and squads at Championship level is something that is clearly a precious luxury not on offer at many clubs, although it is perhaps no coincidence that those allowed to do just that – such as Burnley’s Sean Dyche, Middlesbrough’s Aitor Karanka and Brighton manager Chris Hughton m– have prospered, with stability enhanced in the process.
Carvalhal, the second-longest-serving Yorkshire boss behind Karanka, said: “Karanka and Dyche are good examples of managers who have all had time and had success. Sometimes to build things, you have storms when you travel. If you have a storm and go through it, you have the capacity to come back more strong.”
Particularly saddened by the exit of Rowett, he added: “I never stay happy when a colleague is fired or leaves a club. I do not like these kind of situations.
“When a manager wins a game, everybody wins – the kit man who puts the balls in the correct position; the physios who did fantastic work. The players did fantastic; the assistant coaches were very good, the fans were amazing, the chairman is fantastic. Everything is perfect. (But) when you lose, it is just one person who is responsible and that is the manager. Forget everybody else.
“It is (always) the manager’s responsibility all the time, so I cannot be happy when a colleague loses their job. Probably 75 per cent of the time, it is not correct as sometimes it is down to the recruitment not being good or there are other problems inside the club.”