Jack the Lad: Carlos a breath of fresh air

14th February 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad explains why he has been so impressed by Carlos Carvalhal.

With the Swans playing Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup this weekend, there could only be one subject for this week’s article: Carlos Carvalhal.

I have to admit, when the Swans announced they were replacing Paul Clement with the recently departed manager of the Owls, I wasn’t filled with excitement and anticipation.

How wrong could I have been?

I know it’s still early days, and the Swans still have a lot of swimming to do if they are going to stay afloat in the Premier League, but Carvalhal's transformation of the club's fortunes has been nothing short of “quite remarkable” as the late great David Coleman would have said.

And I’m sure Coleman, who was famed for his memorable turn of phrase, would have been hugely appreciative of the Swans manager’s wonderfully colourful analogies.

Again, when he first arrived, I was a little concerned when he started talking about fishing having been asked about his transfer window targets.

Talk of lobsters, sea bass and sardines instantly brought back memories of that French footballing philosopher Eric Cantona and his famous trawler, seagull and sardines speech all those years ago.

But unlike Cantona, when Carvalhal starts talking seafood, swimming for the shore, Formula One racing cars, sickly patients in need of medical care and barbecues, his analogies make absolutely perfect sense and bring a little colour to the sometimes bland language employed by football people in general.

My personal favourite was his explanation of how he decided to put the highly-tuned racing car that is Liverpool Football Club into heavy traffic on a rainy Swansea evening.

He said: "I talked with my players and said this (Liverpool) is a really strong team.

“They are like a Formula One car. But at 4pm in London it will be difficult to speed, they would be a car like any other.

“We needed to make sure there was traffic, we could not let them have open roads to drive in."

What better way to describe the tactics which saw the footballing form book take a complete u-turn.

Less than a month earlier Liverpool had slipped effortlessly into fifth gear as they cruised past the managerless Swans with a 5-1 win at Anfield.

But with Carvalhal directing the traffic at the Liberty, it was the Swans who hit the open road to victory with a 1-0 win.

Carvalhal has been a complete breath of fresh air in and around the Swansea camp.

His cheery demeanour, wonderful way with words and Portuguese pastries have certainly put the smiles back on faces of everyone in and around the Liberty Stadium, but it has taken more than his infectious personality to perk up performances on the pitch.

As Saturday's matchwinner Ki Sung-Yueng said afterwards: “When you feel some tension, he will tell one of his stories that makes us laugh. But when we have to get down to business he becomes very serious. He says he has an ‘A’ face and a ‘B’ face, so when we have a laugh it’s great but when we have to work, we also concentrate.

“Tactically, all over the pitch, he makes everyone work hard. He’s changed the players. Everyone knows what to do on the pitch, so he has made a big difference."

I wonder if Owls fans will be enviously eyeing the Swans dugout as Saturday's match kicks off, wondering whether their club may have been a little hasty in allowing Carvalhal to leave.

Hopefully, at the end of 90 minutes they will have even more reason to regret parting company with their former manager, and Swans fans can look forward to more colourful quotes from catchphrase king Carlos.

C'mon you Swans!