Well done, Owls ... and I tip United to win tonight

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AFTER all that worrying, it didn’t hurt at all did it? The only screaming was all that promotion joy.

I’m reliably informed it was a pretty special afternoon at Hillsborough last Saturday and, from an atmosphere point of view, highly unlikely to be repeated.

After all, Owls fans had all four sides to themselves in which to bounce around. That’s a rarity and most unlikely to happen again. Certainly not in The Championship.

Only likely, of course, should they end up in League One again!

Not something you’d imagine happening under this shrewd manager.

Would they have been where they are now had change not been made? The thing is we’ll never know. Only have a guess.

One suspects that, but for the Sheffield derby, Gary Megson might well have got the bullet a week earlier than he did.

After all, Milan Mandaric would hardly dare fire his manager a few days before the biggest game of the season against their fiercest rivals.

Imagine the reaction had he done so and Wednesday had lost that game?

The change was proved right. But, for me, playing-wise, there were two major turning points in Wednesday’s season.

The first was after the 5-1 thrashing at Stevenage which dropped them to 10th. They then won their next four which set them up for the game at Bramall Lane on October 16.

And their respective positions after that 2-2 draw? Wednesday third and United seventh!

The other, I suggest, was the return derby at Hillsborough, a game Wednesday approached in stark contrast to the other having just lost four on the trot (one of them a cup tie).

Wednesdayites’ big fear that day was if they lost, they’d go eight points behind United. It was to be a pivotal afternoon.

May I, at this point, offer my congratulations to the Owls and salute both the city’s sides for an exciting and enthralling few months.

Am I surprised they came through on the rails? No.

A month ago in this column, with both having four games to play, I suggested what might happen starting with United having a four-point advantage with three games to play.

By the luckiest of lucky streaks when doing my usual predictions (and I usually don’t fare too well, to be honest) I managed to get each of the teams’ last four results right - yes, even down to United drawing with Stevenage and Exeter.

So, what price tonight?

First of all - and I reckon most of Sheffield hopes this too - I want United up as well. Having both in the same division (yes, even League One) is great for the city and all connected with the clubs.

The concern I have for United is that they rarely keep a clean sheet and, at the same time, Evans, Hoskins and Beattie have all been stripped from the strikeforce.

They have played some wonderful stuff this season but tonight, certainly, is a time to dig in. Perhaps via the sort of performance that eked out a 1-0 win at Huddersfield but followers are tense.

Stevenage, really awkward on their home patch, could be nervy tonight though.

I’ve a funny feeling United will win tonight. If they win the second leg, still expect some to groan it was a fortnight too late!