AN article such as this is fraught with danger.
How do I write something that categorically states Wednesday will beat United on Sunday when every atom in my body is telling me don’t do it? Jinx is an ugly word.
Obviously, the only way forward is to look at the facts. Scrap that, derbies aren’t won on stats and facts, they’re won on bottle and guts.
So what’s my gut telling me? Apart from that it has eaten too many burgers, it screams the Owls are too good to leave Bramall Lane without all three points.
And the reason that they’re too good, is that they now ‘know’ they’re good after reaching the automatic promotion positions. I don’t mean that in a cocky way. The Wednesday players aren’t strutting about with a sense of entitlement. It’s almost the complete opposite.
For the first time in a long while, the Owls have a team who want a taste of the big time. Almost to a man, the eleven that Gary Megson will select on Sunday is stuffed full of players who are demanding the chance to show what they can do at a higher level.
For me, the moment the penny dropped was at Yeovil last month. In danger of being conned out of a win by crass unsportsmanship from the Glovers, you could almost sense they’d had enough.
Had enough of losing at clubs where the away support is bigger than the home gate. Had enough of their manager telling them they can’t cope with the demands of playing for a big club. Had enough of playing against teams who raise their games twice a season to get the league’s biggest scalp.
It all came boiling over in a rousing second half capped off by two savage headers, in their ferocity, from Julian Bennett and Gary Madine in front of the massed ranks of Wednesdayites, who’d been soaked to the skin in Somerset.
Since then Madine has continued his run of scoring. His surname is almost in danger of losing any relevance as ‘Goal Machine’ edges ever closer to receiving its own copyright for marketing purposes.
Yes the derby match is a big occasion. It is bragging rights until the next one at Hillsborough in February for the fans.
However, for the Wednesday players it is a chance to show again that they mean business. United will be around the promotion places all season so three points gained means further blue water being put between the two clubs.
Time and again the best team coming into a derby doesn’t win. But, here’s the rub. Wednesday don’t want this third-tier nonsense anymore; they want to move on. They don’t just want to think they’re the best team, they want to show it.
And what better place to confirm their return to prominence than with a victory across the city by showing the guts and bottle associated with derby winners.