CARLOS CARVALHAL has paid an emotional farewell to Sheffield Wednesday supporters following his departure from Hillsborough on Christmas Eve as attention now switches to his replacement.
A dramatic 12 hours for Yorkshire football saw both head coach Carvalhal and Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk leave their respective positions following Saturday’s encounter between the Owls and Boro.
Ex-Leeds United boss Monk was the first to go, paying the price for Boro’s stuttering form this season when he was axed on Saturday evening after just 23 league matches in charge.
The 38-year-old was reportedly informed of the decision in a telephone call from Boro chairman Steve Gibson – shortly after returning home following the Teessiders’ 2-1 victory at Hillsborough.
Monk is said to have been surprised at the developments, which reportedly came just days after holding January transfer talks with the Boro board.
Former West Brom head coach Tony Pulis – for whom Gibson has expressed admiration in the past – is reportedly the leading contender for the post.
Time was called on Carvalhal’s two-and-half year tenure at the Owls’ helm on Christmas Eve, with the 52-year-old leaving his position by mutual consent.
The Portuguese had been under growing pressure following a poor seven-match winless streak, with sections of Owls supporters calling for his dismissal towards the end of Saturday’s loss to Boro, which left the hosts languishing in 15th place in the Championship.
Prior to Carvalhal’s departure, Owls chairman Dejphon Chansiri had leapt passionately to his defence in a statement that criticised supporters for the level of abuse meted out towards the head coach. He also spoke of people attempting to “drive” Carvalhal out of the club.
Wednesday, who famously parted company with another former manager in Derek Dooley on Christmas Eve back in 1973, have placed Lee Bullen in charge for today’s trip to Nottingham Forest.
A number of names have been touted to replace Carvalhal, including one-time Owls captain Nigel Pearson, who is also one of the leading names in the frame for the vacant post at Boro, another of his former clubs where he is also held in good esteem by many supporters.
Pearson is currently in charge of Belgian outfit OH Leuven.
Ex-Owls manager Gary Megson is another to have been linked with the Hillsborough post alongside former Boro head coach Aitor Karanka, while – intriguingly – Monk has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.
Whoever takes over at Wednesday will find a team bereft of confidence and belief, with matters compounded by a crippling injury list.
The Owls are closer to the relegation zone than the play-off spots following an alarming run of two wins in 12 matches, which heaped considerable pressure upon Carvalhal’s shoulders.
On his exit, Carvalhal – who had been the longest-serving manager in Yorkshire after being installed as head coach in June 2015 – said: “The chairman and myself talked after the (Middlesbrough) game and we believed this was the correct timing to make this decision.
“Of course, I am very sad at this moment because I have enjoyed my two seasons and a half so much.
“We had two fantastic seasons and two play-offs on the row, but unfortunately we have not managed to replicate these positions this season.
“There are reasons why I believe this is the case and the problems we have faced, of which I have spoken in my press conferences, so now is not the correct time to repeat.
“Now is the time to focus on the wonderful experiences I have enjoyed at Sheffield Wednesday and the friends I have made.
“The fans are fantastic, unbelievable, and I would like to thank them very much. They have given me some memories that I will always cherish.
“Myself and my staff felt at home at Sheffield Wednesday and I cannot say anything higher than that on a personal level.
“Finally, I say a very big thank you to the chairman, who has been amazing. He is the best chairman I have ever worked with in my life in football and I hope everybody at Hillsborough can help him achieve the dream of the Premier League.”
Monk’s departure had ironically followed one of Middlesbrough’s best performances of the season, with the Teessiders coming from behind to win a league game for just the second time in 2017-18.
Monk had spoken with confidence about the display being the club’s most accomplished away showing of the season, with the win lifting Boro to ninth, just three points behind sixth-placed Aston Villa.
But the victory counted for little in the final analysis, with Gibson showing a ruthless edge with his decision to call time on Monk’s reign ahead of a potentially definitive spell after an underwhelming and inconsistent first half of the campaign when they have palpably failed to justify their status as pre-season promotion favourites.
Last six games: Nottingham Forest WLLWLD Sheffield Wednesday DDDLLL.
Referee: A Madley (West Yorkshire).
Last time: Nottingham Forest 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2; February 17, 2017; Championship.