For Carlos Carvalhal, it’s been a relatively tough third season in charge of Sheffield Wednesday so far.
The South Yorkshire giants have struggled to put a consistent run together. They’ve also had to suffer the ignominy of watching their local rivals, Sheffield United, jump ahead of them.
While the Owls currently lie in twelfth in the Championship table, there are reasons to be optimistic of a turnaround in fortunes.
It may not feel like it right now, particularly after a 4-2 Steel City derby defeat to United last month. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
After two successful seasons in charge – including a heartbreaking play-off final defeat in 2015-16 – there were worries Carvalhal’s influence could wane.
Wednesday have struggled in patches, but their home form remains a shining light. Hillsborough has generally been a fortress while the Portuguese tactician has been in charge.
They have lost just once there this season on their home patch – that infamous derby defeat – yielding three wins and two draws. That included a hugely impressive 3-0 win over Leeds United at the start of the month.
It’s their form on the road that has stifled the Owls’ season so far. It’s not been awful, but with just one win on the board – against Fulham – they have slipped out of top-six contention.
The style of play Carvalhal utilises tends to leave his side a little open, particularly away from home.
With the Championship being so competitive, sometimes it can be best to be pragmatic and tighten up on the road. Drop one of the front two, pack your midfield, and look to counter.
Obviously, that doesn’t come naturally to the former Besiktas boss. And that’s why Wednesday have been one of the most attractive sides to watch over the last couple of years.
If they can bag a few more points away from Hillsborough, and consolidate their home form, Wednesday will be there or thereabouts again come May.
Another reason to keep an eye on the Owls is Jordan Rhodes. The Scottish international has had a rough time of it over the last 12 months or so and hasn’t scored a league goal since March.
But when it comes to the Championship, form is temporary – class is permanent. The former Blackburn Rovers poacher has been one of the most prolific strikers in this division for years.
It is surely only a matter of time before Rhodes is back in form and firing Sheffield Wednesday back up the table.
At 11/2 to win promotion, the Owls are still in with a reasonable chance.
There have been two seasons of near-misses for Carvalhal. The third campaign could yet be a charm.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing