Sheffield Wednesday: Goals from everywhere as Owls rotation pays off

Jubliant Owls players enjoy victory
Jubliant Owls players enjoy victory
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It is becoming more apparent with each match why Carlos Carvalhal prefers to focus on the collective group rather than individual performances.

For Sheffield Wednesday to be contenders in the Championship, the Owls head coach believes his team can ill afford to rely on a handful of players to rescue them in times of trouble.

Carlos Carvalhal with Jack Hunt

Carlos Carvalhal with Jack Hunt

It is no fluke that the Owls have already had 12 different scorers this season. Carvalhal and his staff have implemented a structure to bring the best out of the collective. Now goals are coming from all departments.

Carvalhal said he was determined to create a new dynamic following his surprise appointment. This Wednesday side has a nice balance to it. They have an identity and a method of playing.

Footballer turned media pundit David Prutton told The Star: “The energy of the team is a joy to watch. They are not a team of monsters. They are a team of footballing technicians.

“The counter-attacking is lightning and there is a willingness to work hard for each other so no wonder the team is bouncing.

Lucas Joao scores

Lucas Joao scores

“They have got strong characters and a good British core of Tom Lees, Jack Hunt, Kieran Lee and Sam Hutchinson. I think they are vitally important as the Championship is relentless.”

A clever summer recruitment drive has helped the Portuguese transform the Owls into the flamboyant, aggressive side owner Dejphon Chansiri craved. Barry Bannan and Ross Wallace have added creativity and energy to midfield while Fernando Forestieri has brought flair and trickery to the forward line playing in the number 10 position.

Prutton said: “Wednesday have been crying out for someone like Forestieri for years and it is a big statement that they could get him.”

Their tactics are clear. At Rotherham, they pressed their South Yorkshire rivals into submission, forcing them into unforced errors. The final scoreline flattered their opponents.

Lucas Joao celebrates

Lucas Joao celebrates

“There wasn’t much difference between the two teams in the first half,” Prutton said. “But then Rotherham gave away two goals to a side that doesn’t need a confidence boost.

“They were architects of their own downfall and you just sensed Wednesday always had the upper hand.”

Prutton has praised the job Carvalhal has done in leading the Owls into the top 10 of the division.

“Carlos has done great,” he said. “When Stuart Gray, who did a fine job, went, not too many people knew much about Carlos

“People were thinking it might be another season of mediocrity and, when you sign 15 players, it is a ready-made excuse for a manager when things don’t go so well. You hear it all the time from top managers in the Premier League saying a lot has changed and it is going to take time to gell, but Carlos hasn’t made it look tough.

“They have done great and Carlos is smartly trying to play down expectations.

“Wednesday have now got a squad that can compete. They are outplaying good teams and staying in games that perhaps they would have lost last season.

“But let’s keep it in perspective. Nobody should be getting carried away with anything right now as we are still in October.

“Carlos knows there will be bumps and fences to climb along the way.

“If they are still in this kind of form around Easter time, as a Wednesday fan you would get quite excited.”

As well as managing expectations, Carvalhal is trying to keep his squad sharp and fresh for the challenges on the horizon. Only centre-back Lees has played every single minute of this campaign.

Prutton said: “It (squad rotation) is tough to take as a footballer as you want to play every week. As a Wednesday player now, you have to be happy to be in a squad that is going to be rotated.

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“It is a test of your application and professionalism. Footballers can make it easy for a manager not to pick them by making a big deal out of it.

“Forestieri came off at half-time against QPR but played wonderfully at Rotherham. There is a certain parking of the ego that means you do what you are paid for by keeping fit and being ready to play when you are needed.”

Tomorrow Wednesday entertain Arsenal in a rematch of the memorable 1993 League Cup Final. A place in the last eight of the Capital One Cup is up for grabs.

Carvalhal fielded a weakened side in the last round, prevailing 1-0 at Newcastle United despite making 10 alterations.

Prutton said: “You look at the changes they made for the Newcastle game and will Carlos do the same again? I wouldn’t like to second-guess him. I am all for having a bit of continuity, which breeds confidence.

“But it is a free hit. Nothing is expected from Wednesday. It won’t make a difference to Wednesday’s season whether they win or lose it. It is the league that has got to be the priority.”

Prutton added that Arsenal should be “wary of Wednesday”.

It has been a long time since someone could say that with any real conviction.