Dom Howson Column: Glenn Loovens' vital role in Sheffield Wednesday's push for the Premier League
After a poor start to the month, Wednesday regained their poise and purpose to finish March strongly, collecting seven points from three outings to head into the international break on a high.
Their upturn in fortunes coincided with some of the club’s most influential players returning to action. All eyes were on Fernando Forestieri following his two-match suspension and the talismanic striker did not disappoint. The Owls’ leading goal-scorer was crucial in the victories over Nottingham Forest and Charlton Athletic.
While much of the attention has been on Forestieri, another person has come back into the fold and played an instrumental role in their revival.
They say a captain needs to lead and inspire and that is exactly what Glenn Loovens has done in recent weeks. He quietly goes about his business, wearing that small piece of cloth on his biceps with pride and passion.
Since receiving a first-team recall at Brighton and Hove Albion, the ice-cool Dutchman has excelled, barely putting a foot wrong. The centre-back has been strong in the air and commanding on the floor, helping Wednesday keep three consecutive clean sheets.
Although he is not blessed with pace, Loovens is an astute reader of the game. His fine positional sense frequently gets him out of trouble.
It appears head coach Carlos Carvalhal’s squad rotation policy at S6 is bringing the best out of Loovens. The 32-year-old has already clocked up more appearances (29) than he managed last season. Yes, he’s still had the odd injury here and there, but he has been in the treatment room a lot less this time around.
Perhaps what has driven Loovens on has been the battle to secure a first-team spot. Under Carvalhal, he has not been a guaranteed starter. That uncertainty over his position has kept him on his toes.
Loovens has had to be patient and beat off stiff competition from Vincent Sasso and Michael Turner for the right to partner Tom Lees at the heart of their rearguard. Whenever his standards have dropped, Carvalhal has taken him out of the firing line.
As the club captain, Loovens is the go between Carvalhal and the players on a daily basis. It is an important role and Loovens is a indispensable cog in the dressing room dynamic. Hence why they tied him down to a new contract in January.
Calm heads are going to be required as the business end of a long, gruelling campaign looms. In Loovens, the Owls have just the man to help make a good year a memorable one.