Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: Why the Owls' defensive woes should come as no surprise

Wednesday's fragile defence has developed an unwanted habit of making opponents forward lines look better than they actually in the first half of the Championship season.

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 2:40 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 7:28 am
Jack Hunt left Sheffield Wednesday last summer and moved to Bristol City in a 1.6m move

Leaders Norwich City were nothing special when they visited Hillsborough, especially in the first half, yet ended up hammering Jos Luhukay's side.

Promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion walked away from S6 with an unlikely point following more naive Wednesday defending late on.

Mid-table Blackburn Rovers put four past the hapless Owls at Ewood Park earlier this month. Front two Bradley Dack and Danny Graham are a dangerous double-act at this level but it was still alarming the ease at which they ripped Wednesday apart. Rovers did not have to work hard to break the Owls down.

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"It doesn't hurt us enough when we concede," admitted Barry Bannan after their humiliating second half surrender against Norwich. "We need to address it and address it quickly."

Actions speak louder than words and Wednesday have failed to rectify their defensive shortcomings. They have kept a paltry two clean sheets in 21 outings and conceded a whopping 38 goals - an average of 1.8 goals per game.

A lack of continuity in selection and tactics has undermined their attempts to keep more shut outs. There have been a number of individual mistakes but under-fire boss Jos Luhukay remains no nearer to addressing a glaring weakness in the team's make up.

Should the Owls' defensive problems come as a total surprise? Not for me.

Wednesday are down on numbers in that department. Jack Hunt, Glenn Loovens and Frederico Venancio left last summer and were not replaced.

It took the Owls until the end of August - after the club's transfer embargo for breaching profitability and sustainability regulations had been lifted - to bolster their centre-half options but it is debatable whether Chelsea loanee Michael Hector has improved them. His performances have been erratic of late.

The defensive spine of the team is weaker and opponents have exploited their soft underbelly. There is a lack of strength in depth in that area.

But sources close to the club say there will be money to spend in the January transfer window should Wednesday want to bring in reinforcements. They have been linked with a move for Tranmere Rovers striker James Norwood. For me, the Owls' priority must be improving their options in the full-back and centre-half positions to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle.