Both rival head coaches, who pit their wits against each other at the John Smith’s Stadium in a televised noon showdown tomorrow lunch-time, have earned themselves considerable popularity with Owls and Town supporters alike in their time in charge thus far, with the boardroom decisions of both clubs to ‘go foreign’ being massively vindicated.
Just as Carvalhal earned justifiable kudos for orchestrating Wednesday’s rise as the surprise Championship packages last season en route to an appearance in the play-off final, so Wagner is now being bestowed with plaudits after Town’s shock elevation to the Championship summit.
Two of the current top three sides in the Championship are led by continental head coaches/managers in the shape of German-born Wagner and a Spaniard in Rafael Benitez, at Newcastle – while a Portuguese in Carvalhal and a Dutchman in Reading manager Jaap Stam also see their respective clubs positioned within close proximity of the play-offs.
Carvalhal is full of praise for the job done by Wagner at Huddersfield, while also revealing that he feels that his own overall coaching knowledge has been augmented by working with English coaches at Wednesday.
On the impact made by continental coaches in the second-tier, Carvalhal said: “This is a global world and I do not look at this as a negative, but a positive to football.
“I have English coaches working with me and I am sure that we are learning with them and they are learning with us.
“So when we leave the clubs, we will be better coaches for learning with them also.
“If you share information, maybe these (foreign) countries will be better.
“In Portugal, the level of coaching is high and we do not have too many foreign coaches now. But I remember before that we had a lot and learned from those with different mentalities. The Portuguese coaches learned a lot from the foreign ones and created a school of coaches.
“But for the coaches here, they must go outside. They can teach other players in other environments and they will become better coaches. It opens your horizons.
“It is not a question of money, but exploring and being better.”
Just as Wednesday successfully utilised the underdog card last season, Carvalhal believes that Town are now doing the same, with the club benefitting from a lack of pressure in comparison to a number of rivals.
He added: “They are one team who are completely underdogs and that is something which is important. They do not have the pressure and to play as underdogs is good
“They are on a good level and they are in first place at the moment and they deserve it.
“They are having a fantastic season and they haven’t lost any points at home and it is a good challenge.
“They have very good organisation and play positive football. We are ready, but understand we must be at our highest level, I am absolutely sure.”
Wednesday were the opposition for Wagner’s first match in charge at Town, a 3-1 defeat at Hillsborough last November.
Wagner’s side were beaten twice by the Owls last term and he is full of respect for the job done by Carvalhal, whose team will pose the biggest threat yet to Town’s peerless home league record, in his view.
Wagner, whose side will stride out in front of what is expected to be the biggest home league crowd since Town moved from Leeds Road in 1994, added: “We played 10 months ago against a very strong Sheffield Wednesday side, but they are stronger now. They have improved as well since that first time I met them.
“We are up against maybe the best team we have played yet at home – and last season we lost both games against them.
“There will be no surprises about them. The manager is very, very good. I like Carlos and I like his team. We know their qualities and how good they are.
“To be successful against them we really have to bring our best performance on Sunday.
“We will also need every single Huddersfield Town supporter to be on his or her best performance, too. We need it to be noisier than it has ever been before.”
Big-match preview: Page 3