Alan Biggs: Some Sheffield Wednesday results have masked a change in style from Carlos Carvalhal
As regular readers are well aware, this column has been known to be found in the proximity of a high fence. It also does not pretend to offer a reliable tipping service.
However, the two Sheffield Wednesday results I’ve ventured to predict this season – and stumbled on getting right – are perhaps no coincidence. Losing at Bolton, winning at Aston Villa. Even if they’d been wrong calls, you’d maybe have got the point.
It’s somehow typical of the Owls to fall and rise in these type of games. Beating quality opposition only serves to underline the major shortcoming of being inconsistent and erratic.
Witness the opening day no-show at Preston, the inadequate draw at Burton, the various points spilled at Hillsborough. Then note the win at Fulham and the draw at Cardiff.
What matters is that all is far from lost. After wins in the last two games amid a gradually ascending level of performance, Wednesday have a chance to give the barometer a good tap and see it swing to “set fair.”
No-one can possibly suggest that any game in the Championship is easy or straightforward, but if the application and attitude are spot on then Carlos Carvalhal’s side has the quality and experience to prevail more often than not, certainly against the lesser sides of the division.
Much has been made of the continuing failure to keep a clean sheet – only one in the last 13 games and two this season – but Wednesday should have the attacking talent to outscore the opposition regardless.
I feel this should be their aim rather than to keep things tight. In the main this has been much more the approach, even if the goal count – 21 in the league – does not entirely reflect this.
Three goals against Nottingham Forest and Leeds have been the peaks in that regard. With Jordan Rhodes finally in scoring form, you feel there has to be more to come if the side is to play to and capitalise on its obvious strengths.
Because the output has been relatively modest so far, I don’t think there has been enough acknowledgment that Carvalhal is trying to play a different way this season.
There has been little or no aimless ball retention at the back, fewer sideways or backwards passes across midfield, indeed a noticeable and welcome inclination from the player on the ball to go forward whenever possible.
If that exposes the team to greater risk at the back, where some seasoned players have not been as reliable as before, then so be it. A risk worth taking in my book, as is pressing on for a second goal after taking the lead – as at Villa – rather than looking to grind it out.
Home to Bristol City on Saturday, away at Ipswich and Reading, then home again to Hull. The opposition doesn’t matter that much because we know about the vagaries of this division. It’s more about playing to capabilities and if the Owls continue to do that then this season, as in the previous two, should be one of major opportunity in my opinion.