Look what happens with a positive tactical approach - FIVE talking points from Nottingham Forest 0 Sheffield Wednesday 3
The king is dead, long live the king ... or the man standing in for a while at least.
Sheffield Wednesday shook off the hangover of losing their head coach on Christmas Eve in the best possible way with a fine 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground under the guidance of Lee Bullen. Adam Reach, Jordan Rhodes and Lucas Joao got the goals which ended a winless run of seven games.
Here are five talking points from the match.
MINOR TWEAKS, MAJOR DIFFERENCE
I doubt even Bullen would accept that he's some sort of tactical genius after masterminding the victory at the City Ground. He'll have had next to no time to prepare for this game in terms of how the team were going to set up but a few simple changes brought about the desired effect. Wednesday went on the front foot from the off. Wide players stayed wide. Everyone looked for a forward pass and took it rather than playing safe and square. Skillful players took on their opponents. Everyone had a shot when the chance was presented. All of this resulted in opportunities being created and Forest's defence being put under pressure. Look at the stats from Wednesday's last away game, at Norwich City - 51% possession, nine shots and four on target. Now look at yesterday's at Forest - 38% possession, 19 shots, eight on target. This shows that there's no point having the ball if you do nothing with it. Bullen deserves credit, but it wasn't rocket science really, as I'm sure he'd agree.
How good was it to watch Adam Reach glide through the midfield, beating players and setting up Lucas Joao for that third goal? Versatility has been Reach's strength and hindrance during his time at Wednesday as he got a reputation as a 'jack of all trades, master of some'. The natural winger has been shifted around the pitch and it's often been to his disadvantage, yet there was never any complaining. Yesterday he looked at home in the middle, with licence to drift wide when necessary and he looked like a new player. The skill and range of passing was superb and in the absence of Barry Bannan it was he who was taking responsibility by taking the ball and pushing forward to make things happen. And he looked at home in the role. Oh, and that goal wasn't bad either.
WATCH OUT, WESTWOOD
Joe Wildsmith had an up and down day against Middlesbrough. He saved a penalty then a minute later made a hash of a shot and gave away a goal. Against Forest he was excellent all game. Forest will always create chances themselves and with Wednesday probably still lacking a bit of confidence and finding their feet in a different style of play, there were always going to be openings. However, the keeper was at his best, making three superb saves at crucial times in the game to keep Wednesday in front. That was crucial in gaining the win as a Forest goal at any stage before the third might have, understandably seen a little doubt creep in. Westwood will most likely take his place in goal when fit again, but at least we know there is a very, very capable deputy waiting in the wings and indeed putting the number one under pressure.
FAITH IN LUCAS
What Bullen did for Lucas Joao could well have kickstarted his Owls career. On the periphery for the best part of 18 months, the Portuguese forward looked to have gone backwards having been given few opportunities to impress and most of those coming from the bench. A little show of faith and an arm around the shoulder from Bullen and suddenly Joao's back to the form he showed in his first season. One swallow doesn't make a summer and all that but it's amazing what a different and perhaps more supportive voice can do.
BULLY FOR THE JOB (for a while at least)?
We can't judge much on one game, but what we can say is that Bullen's way was refreshing. He's been told he has until the start of January and possibly the FA Cup tie with Carlisle and by then there's a possibility a new man could be in. If Wednesday win this weekend at Brentford and then again against Burton, I would be holding fire for a little longer. I'm not saying Bullen should get the job on a full-time basis but if things go well over the next couple of weeks, then Dejphon Chansiri should just take his time in appointing a new man, knowing and trusting that the team is in very good hands. If the right man doesn't appear then hang on until the end of the season and see who's out there. By then, Bullen might have done enough to get the job on a permanent basis anyway. There was no rush to let go of the last head coach and equally there's no rush getting the next one in.