Sheffield Wednesday slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Championship newcomers Burton Albion last night.
Goals either side of half-time from ex-Sheffield United youngster Kyle McFadzean, Jackson Irvine and Lloyd Dyer ensured the Brewers secured their first-ever victory in the second tier.
Gary Hooper had levelled things up from the penalty spot, calmly stroking in his first of the season, but it was a poor performance from Carlos Carvalhal’s side.
Here are five talking points following the first ever meeting between the two clubs:
1) The Owls keep failing to produce the best against the lesser sides
It is becoming a big concern that Wednesday are not turning up and performing to their capabilities versus the so-called smaller teams.
We saw it last season in their defeats on the road to relegated MK Dons and Charlton Athetic. (They only managed a draw at Bolton Wanderers)
Burton have one of, if not the smallest, budgets in the division. Nigel Clough’s side are expected to be scrapping at the wrong end of the table and most observers predicted the Owls would condemn them to a third successive league loss.
However, the Brewers hadn’t read the script.
Was complacency a factor? Are Wednesday under-estimating the opposition and taking their foot off the gas? I’d like to think that’s not the case but it’s high time the Owls sorted out their away form.
2) Old boy Chris O’Grady bullied Owls’ makeshift defence
O’Grady ran Wednesday ragged. His power, physicality and intelligent hold up play was too much for them. Without the ball, he hustled and harried Wednesday into submission.
O’Grady is a seasoned campaigner. He knows his game inside out and played like a man determined to impress. At no point did the Owls ever look capable of shackling him.
Given his attributes, O’Grady should score more goals. That has probably been the story of his career and possibly explains why he has not gone further up the football pyramid, but you can’t question his application and commitment to the cause.
3) Wednesday should have brought in at least one new centre-back by now
This has been a problem position for the Owls ever since Michael Turner and Vincent Sasso returned to their parent clubs in June. Defenders aren’t cheap and the Owls are only chasing players who can seriously improve them. But Wednesday should have re-doubled their efforts to bolster that department after Glenn Loovens went under the knife shortly after the players reported back for pre-season training.
Their lack of cover and depth cost them big time at Burton. By the end, Wednesday had Daniel Pudil partnering Sam Hutchinson, who was regularly deployed in midfield last term, at the heart of their rearguard and Liam Palmer filling in at left-back. There’s only so many times you can play lots of individuals out of position and still pick up positive results.
4) There can’t be many better goalkeepers in the league than Keiren Westwood
Tuesday night was another reminder of how lucky the Owls are to have Westwood. He has barely put a foot wrong in Wednesday’s opening three league outings.
At Burton, he commanded his area with authority, coming to collect a string of high crosses to ease the pressure on Wednesday’s patched up back four.
His stop to tip over Tom Naylor’s pliedriver in the second half already looks a decent contender for save of the campaign. He also produced an excellent block early on to deny Stuart Beavon.
The protection Westwood received from his teammates was inadequate and no blame can be attached to him for any of Burton’a three goals. He certainly didn’t deserve to finish on the losing side.
5) David Jones is a good player but where does he fit in?
Former Manchester United youngster Jones looks a shrewd addition. He already has four promotions on his CV so recognises what is required to be successful at this level.
It has to be hoped Jones will bring some much-needed bite to midfield. The Owls were outbattled and outplayed against Burton.
Jones is not a natural holding midfielder but reads the game well and gives Wednesday versatility.
You would think Jones has not joined the club merely to sit on the bench and make up the numbers. He will be expecting to play so who makes way for him?
I don’t see Barry Bannan, named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year in the 2015/16 season, or big summer signing Almen Abdi dropping out so that leaves Kieran Lee or Ross Wallace. Nobody played more times than Lee in Owls colours last season. But if Wallace comes out, it leaves Wednesday without an orthodox winger. And Carvalhal wants to sign another wide player!