Dom Howson column: Owls must rectify their home form to push on

Owls boss Stuart Gray
Owls boss Stuart Gray
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What an eventful 50 matches of Gray it has proven to be.

When Stuart Gray took over, initially on a caretaker basis, Wednesday had won just one of their opening 16 league fixtures and were six points adrift of safety. He transformed their fortunes, leading the club on an 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions, as the Owls finished 16th, two places higher than the previous season.

There have been some big highs under Gray. Hillsborough wins over Leicester City and Queens Park Rangers, who ultimately gained promotion to the Premier League last season, underlined Gray’s tactical acumen and ability to prepare players for the big occasions.

Wednesdayites are unlikely to forget in a hurry that afternoon when they annihilated and humiliated Leeds United in front of the TV cameras. They scored six but the team could quite easily have reached double figures.

Other notable highlights include Yorkshire derby victories over Barnsley and Huddersfield Town. A 4-2 triumph at Bournemouth last April all but ensured they retained their Championship status.

Disappointments include Owls’ 2-1 home loss to Charlton Athletic, meaning they missed out on a Steel City derby in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Only three clubs have won more on the road than Wednesday in the division this year. They have ground out victories at Brighton Hove Albion, Middlesbrough, Burnley in the cup and Birmingham City, illustrating that good organisation and team spirit can bring you success.

It was a month ago Manchester City battered the Owls, hitting seven past them in the second half of the Capital One Cup. Gray’s troops have failed to win since the tie and were outplayed, as many clubs will be between now and May, by Watford on Saturday.

Gray’s first year anniversary is fast approaching and he has done a good job in steadying the ship, boasting a win ratio of over 40%. But the team’s recent record at home is a big concern. They have amassed just seven points out of a possible 30 since the end of March.

If Gray fails to find a quick solution to their Hillsborough woes, it will become increasingly difficult for him to build for the future.