WEDNESDAY have been preaching that practice makes perfect as they bid to end their failures at set pieces.
Gary Megson and his staff had the players defending 58 of them in training yesterday and only two resulted in goals.
Megson sees similarly accomplished work in games as being vital to the Owls stepping up their campaign.
“In training we had big lads attacking the ball and we only let two out of 58 set pieces in - and one of those was a wide free kick that trickled past the goalkeeper and was unfortunate.
“You’re not going to keep every set piece out, because it’s difficult to handle, but at Hillsborough the other night we let in one of only two when it really mattered.
“It’s just an attitude of mind. We have to have people who to be first to the ball and want to head it.”
Megson traces the defensive shortcoming back beyond the Exeter and Stevenage defeats: “Out of the last 11 goals we have let in, eight have come from set pieces. It’s shocking. It’s cost us 12 points.
“We’re top of the league for scoring from set pieces, though of late we haven’t scored enough.
“Passing and finishing are important, of course, but you will have to defend against set pieces, and you will get opportunities to attack from them. You have to be good at both.”
Megson has also hammered home the message to the players: “I’ve told them set pieces are altering everything; the way Wednesday are viewed, the number of points we get and the results.”
With Wednesday trailing United and facing the first of two derbies at Chesterfield tomorrow, Megson also takes a fresh look at the promotion issue, saying the Blades would have been his favourites for automatic promotion:
“Anybody coming to this level with a £14m wage bill is going to be favourites. Charlton have brought in 27 or 28 players and are going to be up there. We’re going to be up there because we have so many good things going for us. Huddersfield and MK Dons have done fine, and Stevenage are doing well at the moment.
“Everybody focuses on Sheffield Wednesday, probably more than on any other club in this division. We have to cope with that. We find ourselves having to react to criticism when we’re third. Last year when I came to the club, we were around 16th.
“If other people would deem Sheffield Wednesday not getting automatic promotion as failure, you can’t do anything about that, but we want to keep trying to do it.”
Megson added: “Budgets aren’t the be all and end all, but they will suggest what kind of squad, team and individuals you’ve got. You can’t say if you’ve got the highest budget you’ll finish highest. It’s not how much money you’ve got, it’s how you spend it.
“We have a lot of things going for us and we’ll try to use everything we’ve got to our advantage.”
Megson knows the Owls will come under the spotlight at Chesterfield: “There’s a lot at stake. We’ve lost two on the spin, we’re in third spot. It magnifies it more. We have to cope with that.
“It is a local derby. We have a manager, staff and players who all have a huge amount of pride in working for this club and hopefullly getting it to where we want it to be.
“No stone will be left unturned. We’ll never be accused of lack of effort and we’ll go into this game looking to get three points and get back on track.”