Sheffield Wednesday v Bristol City: Owls’ patience in educating new signings now beginning to pay off

EDUCATING JORDAN: Wednesday's Jordan Rhodes has scored in back-to-back games against Millwall and Aston Villa. Picture: Steve Ellis.
EDUCATING JORDAN: Wednesday's Jordan Rhodes has scored in back-to-back games against Millwall and Aston Villa. Picture: Steve Ellis.
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Carlos Carvalhal believes Jordan Rhodes is finally settling into life at Sheffield Wednesday.

The £10m signing from Middlesbrough has not had the best 2017 since arriving at Hillsborough in January.

He has found the net just seven times in the calendar year, and found himself on the sidelines behind Gary Hooper and Steven Fletcher this season.

At times Rhodes – so prolific with previous clubs Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers – has struggled to adapt to the way Carvalhal’s sides play.

The Owls like to play possession football, building from the back, while Rhodes has often been successful when feeding off a target man in a more direct style.

It’s a growing trend in the Championship, as clubs look to replace the traditional British way of playing, with a more cultured approach.

PATIENT APPROACH: Sheffield Wednesday boss, Carlos Carvalhal. Picture: Steve Ellis

PATIENT APPROACH: Sheffield Wednesday boss, Carlos Carvalhal. Picture: Steve Ellis

Carvalhal believes it has taken time for Rhodes to adapt his game to fit in to Wednesday’s way of playing.

But goals in back-to-back wins over Millwall and Aston Villa – allied to impressive individual performances – have delighted the Owls chief.

Now when a player struggles for form, the usual response is to work harder, run more.

But Carvalhal believes Rhodes has improved, by reducing the amount of running and chasing ball-playing centre-halves when out of possession.

We think different because we see things in a different way with the players. We look at the long term not the last five minutes.

Sheffield Wednesday boss, Carlos Carvalhal.

“Sometimes, it takes time, it’s not easy,” said Carvalhal. “Some players it is easy. Some players find it difficult to understand.

“Jordan, it’s not difficult to explain. He played all the time in one way, but the Championship is changing.

“Typical British football, very few teams play like that now.

“Centre-backs played longer to the attackers but there are a lot of teams – 80 per cent maybe – who play differently from the back.

“Centre-backs start building the attack.

“If you don’t have players in attack who understand this, to block the opponents, they will go inside of you and score goals and make you a weak team. The attackers are very important.

“If you play all your life in one way, when you must change something, it takes time.

“It’s good for us that Jordan understands.

“He did better than I expected against Aston Villa, that job. He did really very well.

“In my opinion, and he knows it, he needs to run less without the ball so he is more fresh to score goals when we win the ball,” he said.

“If you understand clear what you must do, you will run half, but run better. When you change something it’s not easy to change. I believe this moment Jordan understands exactly what we want. When you have one way that you play, the players must adapt, not the team who adapt to the players. If you do this then you don’t have a philosophy.

“You are adapting to the players you have and there is something wrong there. It’s good to us that all the players now have adapted.”

Rhodes, of course, is not the only new signing at Hillsborough who has taken time to adjust to playing under Carvalhal.

Winger Adam Reach, a £5m arrival from Middlesborough in the summer, has improved as the season has progressed.

Like, Rhodes, he has also found the net in recent games – scoring successive goals in the last three matches.

And Carvalhal believes patience with the club’s new recruits – in Rhodes, Reach, and others like Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper and Barry Bannan before them – has been vindicated.

“We think different because we see things in a different way with the players,” said Carvalhal. “We look at the long term not the last five minutes.

“When we bring in a player like Reach we know what we are bringing.

“He was not playing at Middlesbrough, he was on loan but we believed in him – he is young, very good abilities, technically of a very high standard, a fighter, he’s English.

“All the players have a period where they must adapt and after that they look better players. It’s not a case like Reach where if they don’t play well we must put them to the side.

“This happened with Gary Hooper in the beginning. In the first few months people were saying ‘why did you bring Gary Hooper here?’

“Gary Hooper had not been playing for Norwich, and after, everybody recognises he is a big player.

“Barry Bannan was not playing when he came here and now he is one of the best players in the Championship.

“When we bring Jordan Rhodes everybody was excited – after he didn’t score in a period and was not connected with the team and everybody said ‘Why did you bring in Jordan Rhodes?’

“At this moment he is starting to understand better the team, he is understanding what we want, like Gary Hooper.

“And now he is connected with the team, he is scoring goals. He runs less but he runs better and he recognises this.

“Forestieri was the same, he wasn’t playing at Watford and when he started playing he did well.

“We may think differently, we believe in the players we bring in.”

Wednesday face a testing week, with back-to-back trips to Ipswich Town and Reading to come after today’s visit of Lee Johnson’s in-form Bristol City.

The Robins have won their last four games, but the Owls are unbeaten in three.

“Lee Johnson has done good work since he arrived there,” said Carvalhal. “They are an organised team, they score a lot of goals from set pieces, but they play a similar football to us, similar principles, they move the ball.

“We are playing very well the last four games. Starting at Derby, then two home games, we drew one (against Barnsley) and had a lot of chances in that game, we beat Millwall, we won at Aston Villa.

“All of those games we played very well, some better than others but the level was very similar.”