IN TERMS of points, there is quite literally nothing separating Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s Championship Yorkshire derby at Elland Road.
Wednesday’s failure to pick up even a point from Tuesday night’s home clash to Brentford has left the Owls and Leeds locked together on 58 points in sixth and fifth respectively.
Even the two sides’ goal difference is almost identical with Leeds one goal better off after scoring 45 and conceding 34, compared to the Hillsborough outfit’s 42 for and 32 leaked at the other end.
And even the club’s two head coaches have comparable records, with Garry Monk’s 52.5 per cent win rate bettering Carvalhal’s 46.15 in charge of their two respective sides.
Carvalhal, though, comes out on top when Monk’s 36.36 per cent win rate in charge at Swansea City is taken into account for an overall 41.88 percentage win rate as a manager in England overall.
Clearly, there is little to separate the two head coaches in terms of performance though Monk has youth on his side.
United’s head coach is still only 37 years old and will turn 38 on March 6.
Carvalhal turned 51 on December 4 and, unlike Monk, has a catalogue of former clubs as a manager, in first Portugal and then Turkey.
As far as Sheffield Wednesday are concerned, the Braga-born manager took the Owls reins on June 30, 2015.
Unlike Monk, the new head coach enjoyed a flying start in Yorkshire with an opening day 2-0 win at home to Bristol City in 2015 followed by a 4-1 success at home to Mansfield Town in the Capital One Cup.
Carvalhal then tasted defeat at Wednesday for the first time as his third game in charge ended in a 2-1 loss at Ipswich Town but draws at home to Reading and at Leeds followed before a 1-0 win against Oxford United in the Capital One Cup.
A decent start and after back to back defeats at home to Middlesbrough and at Burnley, Carvalhal and Wednesday went on an 11-game unbeaten run, winning seven including one run of a four wins in a row and another of three consecutive wins.
The Owls were ultimately on their way to finishing sixth and in the play-offs, and Carvalhal had to endure only two spells of five games without a victory but two more runs of four wins in a row.
A fine first campaign in English football but one that ended in heartache through a 1-0 loss against Hull City at Wembley in the Championship play-off final.
Carvalhal’s 2016-17 has by and large followed suit though and an opening day victory at home to Aston Villa was followed by another five games without a victory.
The recovery, though, was swift and Carvalhal has enjoyed two more runs of three wins in a row in December and then four in a row this February – with the club looking to make it five consecutive victories for the first time under the manager at home to Brentford on Tuesday but they were ultimately defeated 2-1.
Carvalhal then lashed out at referee Darren Bond with the head coach adamant his side should have had a penalty with the score at 0-0 when Fernando Forestieri went down under a challenge from Harlee Dean. Carvalhal also felt there was a foul in the build-up to Brentford’s second goal.
“The referee in the first half was a disaster,” he said. “A very poor performance, he made everybody nervous, he made the fans nervous, he made my players nervous and he made me nervous.”
That defeat means that Carvalhal’s longest winning streak stays at four games while the 11-game stretch at the start of the Portuguese boss’ first season remains considerably the best yet.
Carvalhal has never lost two games in a row in charge of Wednesday and has lost back-to-back fixtures just four times.
Monk and Leeds will be hoping to make that five this weekend.
Five games without a victory has been Carvalhal’s worst run – on three separate occasions.
Monk has had considerably fewer games in charge of Leeds than Carvalhal has experienced at Wednesday – 40 compared to Carvalhal’s 91 – though unlike his Portuguese counterpart, Monk got off to a terrible start.
The club’s well-documented start of just one point from their first three games remains Monk’s worst period at Leeds and his only real rocky spell.
It was the 2-0 victory at Hillsborough in August that started United’s march up the table with Monk having enjoyed one spell of four wins in a row and two sequences of three victories in succession – which came as part of a seven-game unbeaten run in December and January.
Monk’s record is basically better than Carvalhal’s though over fewer games, though United’s head coach has achieved his impressive Championship managerial CV without splashing the cash like Carvalhal.
The list of expensive recruits since Carvalhal took charge is extensive with Jordan Rhodes’ arrival from Middlesbrough in the January transfer window the most high profile.
The £3m that Leeds spent on Kemar Roofe remains Monk and United’s biggest outlay and the club’s investment on new players has not been on the same level as Wednesday’s.
It makes Monk’s record at Leeds all the more impressive and the Bedford-born boss is already 1-0 up on Carvalhal after United’s victory at Hillsborough in August.
Saturday’s clash at Elland Road gives Carvalhal the chance to settle the score – or Monk the opportunity to add more gloss to an already impressive record.