Lack of consistency is causing a real concern: Jon Newsome's Sheffield Wednesday Column
After not only the result but also the positive performance against Derby County a couple of weeks ago I had some real optimism that we may have turned a bit of a corner and if we could string a few decent results together we could possibly have a decent run in to the end of the season.
Taking into consideration the games since that Derby County match we have lost two league games and gone out of the FA Cup to what I would class as a very average Swansea side.
I can fully appreciate that there is an unprecedented number of injuries and the manager, Jos Luhukay has had to shuffle the pack around but I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t say that I am now a little concerned for the rest of the season. My biggest worry is the complete lack of consistency from one performance to another. This obviously isn’t helped by the manager having to constantly change the line-up due to these injuries or the players reported lack of fitness. The trip down to Millwall was one of these occasions and when Luhukay was pressed on why he had chosen the team he had and the omission of Joao he was very insistent that he was simply protecting his players.
A few people have asked me about the players' lack of fitness and there are more than a few opinions on it. It isn’t always that easy to keep on top of things, especially if you are a squad player and the first team have had a run of midweek and weekend games. Although the eleven on the pitch obviously get a match workout, the subs and players on the peripheral will prepare for each game in the same way. There is no way that you can be doing fitness work on a Thursday or Friday when you have a match on Saturday, the recovery time just isn’t enough and the last thing you need is to be going into a game with muscle soreness and fatigue. Those who don’t get much or any part of the game will do some running afterwards but again, it's not a time to be flogging the players with a game coming up in the next few days.
There has been much spoken about the pre-season that the players were put through and although Lee Bullen refuted this when in temporary control it does make you wonder. I am pretty sure we had quite a number of injured players last year as well.
A good pre-season is vital for any player, even more so back in my day as the players are monitored far more now than back then. There were players turning up well overweight and the six or seven weeks was used to get you to peak fitness. That’s what makes me so surprised about this lack of fitness issue. We are constantly told that players are fitter now than they have ever been. Only the players and staff will know what the truth is but I felt it was a telling sign when some of the players brought it up after Luhukay had taken over.
Going back to our lack of consistency I think last Saturday's defeat by Aston Villa was a perfect example. I thought we looked better with the ball, more positive and willing to get forward and take the game to Villa. Unfortunately I thought we were poor defensively and the worst person on the pitch, the referee, didn’t help this. One of the worst performances I can remember seeing from an official.
Onto Swansea and another lengthy trip. They will have covered a good few miles recently come the end of this weeked's trip to Bristol City. The number of supporters who have also done these journeys is absolutely outstanding especially with the recent weather conditions on top.
The performance wasn’t great again and I felt we looked short of ideas going forward and never really did enough to win the game. A shame really because I think we missed a real opportunity in the first game and could have been looking forward to a visit from Tottenham in the next round which would have given everyone a massive lift.
There doesn’t seem to be too much positive news regarding the injuries and even when it looks like a couple might be coming back we pick up injuries elsewhere. What I do know is that we are precariously positioned in the league right now and there has to be some real positivity in our performances from now until the end of the season. Ok, we got beat by Villa but we had a go, and if we do that, I am sure we will win more then we lose. We have shown that we can do it, we just need to do it more consistently.