Carlos Carvalhal knew his time was up at Sheffield Wednesday

Carlos Carvalhal says the time was right to leave Sheffield Wednesday after his two-and-a-half-year stint at Hillsborough came to an end on Christmas Eve.

The Portuguese, who guided the Owls to the play-offs in his first two seasons at the helm, has left the Sky Bet Championship club by mutual consent on the back of a seven-game winless run.

His exit comes just hours after chairman Dejphon Chansiri released a statement of support for his head coach after fans chanted for his dismissal in the wake of Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough.

Carvalhal said on Wednesday’s official website: “The chairman and myself talked after the game and we believed this was the correct timing to make this decision.

“Of course, I am very sad at this moment because I have enjoyed my two seasons and a half so much with Sheffield Wednesday.

“We had two fantastic seasons and two play-offs on the row but unfortunately we have not managed to replicate these positions this season.

“Now is the time to focus on the wonderful experiences I have enjoyed at Sheffield Wednesday and the friends I have made.

“The fans are fantastic, unbelievable, and I would like to thank them very much. They have given me some memories that I will always cherish.

“I would like to thank all the players for the way they have given me nothing less than 100 per cent support and commitment.

“Finally, I say a very big thank you to the chairman, who has been amazing throughout my time with Sheffield Wednesday.

“He is the best chairman I have ever worked with in my life in football and I hope everybody at Hillsborough can help him achieve the dream of the Premier League.”

Carvalhal’s exit comes as something of a surprise, given how quickly it followed an apparent vote of confidence from Chansiri.

The Thai businessman, who appointed Carvalhal in 2015, added: “I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Carlos for the time, effort and commitment he has given Sheffield Wednesday over the last two and a half years.

“Both parties believe the time is right to go our separate ways.

“I maintain a huge amount of respect for Carlos as a coach and as a person and he will always be welcome at Hillsborough.

“I wish him every success in the future.”

Lee Bullen will take charge of Wednesday’s game at Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day and could be in charge for the entire festive period, taking in matches with Brentford and Burton.

Carvalhal was a left-field appointment in the summer of 2015 as the 52-year-old was an unknown coach who had been out of the game for three years.

But he proved an astute selection as in his first season at the helm he took the Owls to within 90 minutes of a first Premier League return in 16 years, before they suffered a play-off final defeat to Hull.

He delivered a second successive play-off campaign last season, but that one ended in a semi-final defeat to Huddersfield.

Despite some heavy investment, including the £10million signing of Jordan Rhodes, the Portuguese has been unable to repeat that success this term and a seventh game without a win left the Owls in 15th and nearer the relegation zone than the play-offs.

That saw a lot of fans increasingly turn against Carvalhal, culminating in chants for his removal after the defeat to Boro.

Carvalhal’s exit means that both managers in the game between the Owls and Boro are no longer in work after Garry Monk left his position at the Riverside, despite winning, just hours after full-time.

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