Few worse insults than to say a player is 'on the beach': Jon Newsome's Sheffield Wednesday Column

This is the real nitty-gritty time of year that over the next couple of weeks will decide the destiny of the successful and unsuccessful teams.

Wednesday, 25th April 2018, 7:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th April 2018, 7:56 am
Jordan Rhodes in action against Reading

There is no better feeling as a player, or a supporter than going into the last few weeks of the season with everything to play for.

We have been fortunate enough that we got to the play-off final two seasons ago and managed to get into the semis last season and it's all too obvious that we have had a very disappointing time of things this year.

Jos Luhukay with Fernando Forestieri and George Boyd

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One of the phrases that you hear getting bandied around about now is the old ‘players are already on the beach’. I have to say as a former professional footballer I would find it not only ridiculous but actually insulting that this can be thrown in your direction.

Football has changed a considerable amount since the days when I was pulling on my boots but I find it really difficult to believe that the level of self-pride has changed dramatically if at all. Every professional footballer will have come through junior football, probably an academy and then into the professional ranks. They will have achieved this through many things but one of them that will most definitely be in their make up is that they will all be winners.

They will be competitive in everything that they do and will not have made it through the ranks in to professional football if they were anything else. I was asked this very question about the Sheffield Wednesday players in a radio interview on the Friday before the game. The presenter suggested that the Wednesday players no longer had anything to play for and would probably be on the beach already. That is why I was delighted that against Reading we were professional and put a real good shift in and eventually came out easy victors.

I thought we started the game a little slow again and had been championing to friends Jordan Rhodes’ performance the week before at Hull. I was interested to see how he reacted coming off the back of his most positive game in a Wednesday shirt and also the manager's decision to start him again, even though Joao and Nuhui were both fit.

Fernando Forestieri scored twice against Reading on Saturday

In the first five or ten minutes the ball was with our right side defenders and on three separate occasions Rhodes went to make a run in behind the Reading left back. On every occasion the player on the ball chose to ignore the run and keep possession by playing square. I can still hear some of my coaches when I was a youngster screaming that if you ignore a player's run on too many occasions then guess what? He’ll stop making that run.

It may seem to be a really minor detail here especially in a game where we ran out comfortable winners but I feel we can start the game with a better and higher tempo. When we play with tempo and are positive we are a lot better outfit. I am sure it isn’t just me that can see that if we score the first goal we visibly grow in confidence and on many occasions play far more positive and attacking football. I would love us to stretch that oppositions back four early in he game, get them turned around and pin them in their own half.

There were loads of positives on Saturday. As I have touched on the fact that the players came out and put a shift in, nothing short of the minimum we would expect, especially after the disappointment of this season, they owe us a few don’t they?

Fernando Forestieri grew into the game and scored a fabulous second to cap off an excellent display. His hunger, and willingness to chase a lost cause was highlighted by our second goal and it was great to see another of the under 23’s getting his break in Connor Kirby. With just two games left of the season it would be great to head into the summer with some positivity and although there is undoubtedly a rebuilding of the squad to be done there are most definitely some green shoots of positivity.

Connor Kirby made his Sheffield Wednesday debut on Saturday

The trip to Wolves on Saturday will be an extremely stern test as it seems they are playing some exquisite free flowing football right now but if I was the manager I would most definitely be getting into the players ears this week. It will be Wolves final home game of the season so will be a carnival atmosphere and what better incentive than to go and try and burst their promotion day bubble.

Jos Luhukay with Fernando Forestieri and George Boyd
Fernando Forestieri scored twice against Reading on Saturday
Connor Kirby made his Sheffield Wednesday debut on Saturday