NINE things we learned from Sheffield Wednesday's win over Rotherham United
Sheffield Wednesday moved into the top six and Rotherham United remain rock-bottom after late drama at Hillsborough that was in no way in keeping with an utterly dreadful game.
Here's Chris Holt with NINE things he learned from the match.
What an absolute stinker
As eluded to in the introduction, this was one of, if not the, worst games of football I have seen this season. A team, in Rotherham, that did little from the off to try and win the game and one, in Sheffield Wednesday, who barely looked good enough to do that, even though they tried. However, the match could have been better but for this man coming up...
Oh, how we needed a referee who was going to allow this South Yorkshire battle be just that. Instead we got Tim Robinson, who was as festive as an arson attack on Santa's Grotto. The match official set the tone by making Wednesday re-take the very first kick-off for some reason. He was probably correct to do so, but it really didn't matter and that allowed an insight into his mindset for the remainder of the game. If it looks like a foul, it probably is, so blow the whistle. Robinsonover-officious nature ruined the match and left us with a turkey of a game.
Three big decisions
While Robinson appeared to blow up for absolutely everything, there were three big calls he had to make and he appears to have a 33-ish% success rate. The first, in disallowing a Tom Adeyemi 'goal' for Rotherham in the first half, I think he's got wrong, and I say that having watched it dozens of times. It's hard to comprehend just where Robinson sees a foul. The next is the Sheffield Wednesday penalty award, which, to his credit, he has got right. Richard Wood loses track of the ball, turns round, sticks out a leg and Lucas Joao goes over it. It may be soft but that doesn't make it any less a foul. However, to then send Wood off is absolutely wrong and needless. There you go, Tim. One out of three ain't bad...as Meatloaf didn't sing.
Imagine how good Joao would be if he could score
The Portuguese forward's profligacy in front of goal is a concern but his play outside the box was superb on Saturday. He was strong, held up the play well, showed good movement, made space for other players and never reneged on his defensive duties either. It's just that his shooting was awful. From a Wednesday point of view, you get the feeling he just needs one and that will set him off on a run. Maybe.
Almen Abdi could actually be a myth
Are we ever going to see the midfielder at anywhere near his best? Abdi's inclusion was one of the main subjects in the chattering before the game and he did reasonably well, showing a few neat touches and a decent range of passing. Then he goes off injured and goodness knows when we're likely to see him again. With each passing week this move from Watford seems ever more doomed to failure.
The missing man
If ever Fernando Forestieri was needed, from a Sheffield Wednesday perspective and equally from the point of view of the game as a spectacle, it was on Saturday. There was just no creativity in the Owls side, or anywhere on the pitch at all, and his clever running, passing and ability to get into tight goalscoring positions were sorely missed against one of the divisions 'lesser' teams. A trip to rampant Newcastle on Boxing Day, however, might need the strong, hard-working, disciplined - if a little boring - team that finished up on Saturday.
Grinding it out
Wednesday fans may not have been seeing often enough the dynamic attacking play that was a feature of last season, but what has been brought in, is an ability to win tight, untidy games. They did it on Tuesday against Barnsley and again against the Millers. If you're not playing well anf still managing to eek out three points, then things aren't going too badly at all.
What's frustrating about how well Rotherham United played on Saturday, in that they almost perfectly executed the seemingly obvious plan of stifling the game, is the realisation that had there been a few more performances like that this season they wouldn't be where they are. Yes, it's a derby and that gives an extra rise in performance and yes, Paul Warne appears to have galvanised them to a large extent, but it can't be just about that. The majority of those players have been below average for much of the campaign, but have obviously got something in them, after all. They just didn't show it enough.
Speaking of Paul Warne...
The man deserves to at least see this season out. Every interview I read with him shows a passionate man, speaking honestly in a way that fans understand. There's no pre or post-match waffle that ultimately tells us all nothing. On the pitch it seems as though the players have responded to him too. Warne might spend a lot of time talking himself out of the job, but Saturday's display and the others before it, have his players telling a different tale.