The home truth

I can handle it: Midfielder Giles Coke says he likes playing in front of big crowds at Hillsborough.
I can handle it: Midfielder Giles Coke says he likes playing in front of big crowds at Hillsborough.
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IT has been a theory put forward many times but maybe it really is the reason why Wednesday have failed so often at home: away sides raise their game.

Regular watchers of Plymouth Argyle rated their team’s performance in last Saturday’s 4-2 win at Hillsborough as their best in months.

It may not have been simply a result of a galvanising effect caused by the Pilgrims going into administration a day beforehand.

That development had been expected. It was back on February 21 that they had 10 points deducted, for issuing notice of intent to appoint an administrator.

After that, they lost 4-0 Brighton - a good side but without the history and setting that Hillsborough represents - and beat Colchester 2-1 at home.

Wednesday’s home league record is won six, drawn five, lost four. Their last home league victory was on December 11, 6-2 against Bristol Rovers.

It all raises the old question of whether Wednesday players find the crowd’s expectations a burden.

Asked whether he thinks that the team feel under extra pressure when playing at home, Gary Megson says: “I don’t know. If they do then we’ve got a huge problem, because this is Sheffield Wednesday. There will be a big crowd. It will be even higher once we can get it going.

“If you’re struggling to play with expectation then you need to go and play at other types of clubs, not Wednesday.

“The expectation exists here because historially this has been a huge, huge club, so if you want to play for them you have to accept that’s part of your criteria.”

Giles Coke says he certainly has no qualms about performing under the scrutiny of the home supporters - and he too believes that the environment may be one that inspires visiting sides.

“Everybody who comes here looks to raise their game,” he says.“We need to match that.

“I like playing at Hillsborough. I’m sure the rest of the boys do.

“Players need to look at themselves. We need to to improve. We are the players on the pitch. We need to put things right.”