A club tail-spinning into turmoil: Jon Newsome's Sheffield Wednesday Column
As weeks go, the past seven days down at Hillsborough are as turbulent as they come.
The absolute rollercoaster of a ride that it has taken us on in such a short space of time is nothing short of ridiculous and if it weren’t so important it would be funny.
The problem though is that it is important, vitally important and therefore it isn’t the slightest bit humourous. Not for a Sheffield Wednesday fan anyway. Having played three games in seven days, the unbelievable difference of what I saw in the 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest and then lately in the 3-0 defeat against Burton Albion defies any logic. In between this was the 2-0 defeat at Brentford where quite frankly after the first 10 or 15 minutes we were never in the game.
So how and why has this happened?
Quite obviously the departure of Carlos Carvalhal over the Christmas period was not that much of a shock with the recent run of results leaving us in the bottom half of the table. The reaction against Forest was good, as I wrote last week, and I was looking forward to the Brentford game with some quiet optimism, if I am honest.
I was a little surprised in the starting formation down at Griffin Park, where we played with a very narrow midfield and it resulted in the home team's full backs having loads of ball and hurting us in very advanced areas. Joe Wildsmith, again, pulled off some excellent saves to keep us in it but once we had conceded, we never really threatened. Although Lee Bullen changed it at half time and we played with a bit more width, we never really created any clear-cut chances and after Brentford made it 2-0, that was that. The better team won in my opinion and I have to say they looked fitter and stronger than us throughout the game. It wasn’t calamitous by any means but it was a very different performance to a few days earlier - granted against a better side.
Unfortunately the injuries are piling up and now becoming beyond a joke, really. Sometimes in football these runs happen but I do feel that over the past couple of seasons we seem to have suffered more than most along the way, no more so than now. With the games coming within a couple of days of each other it is literally about rest and recovery and with the reports of an illness going through the camp as well, the number of available players were dwindling for the visit of lowly Burton.
I thought we started the game with a real lack of tempo and the forward passing and positivity that was on show at Forest had gone. Whether this was a culmination of the change of personnel, the lack of game time for some of the players or something else, I really don’t know. When we conceded a penalty having been caught doddering with possession midway in our half it epitomised our attitude to the game. Joe Wildsmith pulled off a great save from the penalty and I hoped it was the jolt that would fire them up.
I lived in hope because what was then to happen over the rest of the match was cringeworthy. The complete lack of tempo, direction, and willingness to compete was staggering. Yet again I thought a number of the players looked absolutely shattered and out on their feet and yet Burton were still full of running.
For me there were one or two who gave it a go and ran their socks off but that is the least that you would expect from every single one of them, not the odd one or two. The goals we conceded, especially the first one, were comical and I felt for the coaching staff and Lee Bullen.
In the space of seven days they have had to manage a group of players in three matches, with ever dwindling numbers available and literally no time to get out on the training ground and try and implement any change. An impossible task really, especially if you don’t have players who will stand up and be counted and there were far too many on Monday that weren’t willing to do so.
After the match you could see the hurt that Lee Bullen felt, his absolute disappointment with what had gone before him was obvious to see. He, like the rest of us was gutted. He is an honest and genuine guy and he wasn’t looking for a hiding place. There is only so much you can do to protect players sometimes.
Just to throw another grenade in from left field the announcement arrived before the game that the chairman Mr Chansiri had appointed Katrien Meire as the new CEO at the club. Reading up on her past history at Charlton Athletic didn’t fill me full of good vibes but I will reserve judgement, as I do not know what her role is yet to be at the club. I can only judge her on what she does here, so time will tell on that one.
What I do know is that the football club seems to be in turmoil right now. It has very quickly gone from it being a disappointing season thus far, to tail spinning into a disastrous one. I have to agree with Lee Bullen that the sooner a new man is appointed at the helm the better, not because of anything he has done wrong, not at all, but the club needs some stability right now and it needs it quickly.
Who that new man will be is just guess work right now and the fact that Meire has been appointed suddenly throws another spanner in the works. Will she have an input into the decision, at a club she has been at for just a couple of days? What worries me about all this is how attractive does this new set-up now look for a new manager or coach coming in?
My pick would be an experienced British manager who has possibly had success at this level, knows the league inside out and can hit the ground running. If this were a possibility would the clubs structure now be one that he felt comfortable working under? We don’t have time to spare for someone to ‘feel’ his way into the job.
The trip to Carlisle on Saturday will be another tough, physical game. One where quite rightly the supporters expect a good performance, a good result and most of all a positive reaction to what happened on Monday.