Alan Biggs: Sheffield Wednesday need an urgent reshuffle
Appointing a new boss may be the most pressing issue facing Sheffield Wednesday, but the one that has caught up with them is no less urgent.
As has become increasingly clear, major squad reconstruction surely beckons. And the two go hand in hand.
In my opinion, a lack of churn has been at the root of the decline. It’ll be a full-on job for whoever succeeds Carlos Carvalhal, with experience sought but few other clues to identity.
This is not being wise after the event. The need for freshening was a stated view on this page last summer, although I still felt Wednesday had the goods for a top six challenge. No more and no less.
Caretaker boss Lee Bullen still believes it’s possible, even from 13 points adrift. Given an easing of the key injuries for which he rightly makes no excuse for the team’s plight, he has an argument on ability.
On the other hand, can the club afford to delay a rebuilding job that will likely take two windows, not one? That’s the dilemma.
One argument is that this window offers a start to remedying a season of stagnation on the field.
Taking the analogy further, water becomes stagnant when there is no movement. Wednesday’s best team is little changed from the play-off final of two years ago; full of good players but the impetus has gone.
That would require movement out as well as in; necessary anyway to generate money for signings as the club wrestles with Financial Fair Play.
No doubt there is a desire to do this. Easier said than done, though. You can only sell players others want (not so many right now) and probably they are ones you’d like to keep.
Do you bite the bullet? Or see if this season can be resurrected somehow?
And suppose a large incoming fee is structured, as commonly, over several years? A relatively modest down payment makes little difference within FFP. But if you sign players on similarly staged terms it can add up.
As for general offloading – and the Owls are overloaded – there can be an adverse effect on FFP if you are paying out on settling contracts.
That’s just to point out some of the complexities. It’s for others to decide whether the process requires a change to the current managerial model - especially if a traditional British boss, accustomed to driving all transfer business, is hired. As a by the by, I think the CEO appointment is geared more to the business side of the club.
As for where Wednesday need strengthening, we are all managers. My opinions are as unqualified as anyone else’s.
For what it’s worth, I’d want at least one centre back beside the need for a pacey attacker. Wednesday are well blessed elsewhere; less so at the centre of a previously reliable defence that now creaks alarmingly.
When all are fit, Glenn Loovens, Tom Lees, Joost van Aken and Frederico Venancio should be enough. But more authority and competition would not go amiss, also providing scope for the tactical variation of three centre backs.
Wednesday have potential wing backs in Adam Reach and Jack Hunt, pushed by Morgan Fox, Daniel Pudil and Liam Palmer. Central midfield? Any of Sam Hutchinson (first choice when fit), Kieran Lee (ditto), Barry Bannan (ditto), Jacob Butterfield, George Boyd (on the way back) and David Jones. Up front? A returning Gary Hooper or Fernando Forestieri playing in behind a front two?
One huge jigsaw puzzle. Lots of pieces. The one apparent certainty is that they do need a shake and a shuffle.