IF under-pressure Carlos Carvalhal needs proof as to how quickly things can change for Championship managers, he could do a lot worse than glance towards the home dugout at Villa Park today.
Steve Bruce may be basking in the glow of just one defeat in a dozen games that has powered Villa into the play-off places.
But, back in August, the calls for his axing by Villa fans had reached a crescendo following an underwhelming start to the campaign.
Carvalhal must hope to follow Bruce’s example, and use the midweek victory over Millwall to spark a revival in fortunes at Hillsborough.
“Wining our last game was important,” he said. “But so were our performances in the last three games. We are not far away from the top positions.
“Villa is the team that everyone will agree are the best. They have a good coach and this will be one of our most difficult games of the season.
“But we like this challenge, we are Sheffield Wednesday and will fight for the three points.”
Jordan Rhodes, a striker coveted by Bruce when in charge at Hull, is likely to retain his place in the starting XI after netting a first Championship goal of the season in the win over Millwall.
It was a welcome turn of fortune for the Scotland striker, who has just six goals to his name since moving to Hillsborough last January on an initial loan deal that was made permanent for £8m during the summer.
For Carvalhal, the winner against Neil Harris’s Lions was deserved reward for the hard work that Rhodes has put in on the training pitch.
Villa is the team that everyone will agree are the best. They have a good coach and this will be one of our most difficult games of the season.Owls’ boss Carlos Carvalhal
“I remember when Gary Hooper arrived at our club,” said the Portuguese. “The first two or three months, it was not good. He hadn’t adapted to what we wanted or our style of play. But look now at the player we have on our hands.
“It is the same with other players. Sometimes, it can be about confidence, especially for strikers. They need goals to get confidence. I am very happy with all of them.”
Villa go into today’s clash on the back of a seven-game run that has yielded five wins, the latest coming on Wednesday night when goals from former Hull duo, Robert Snodgrass and James Chester, were enough to beat Preston North End.
Daniel Pudil remains a major doubt with the hamstring injury that kept the full back out against Millwall as Wednesday look to end a three-game losing run on the road.