Sheffield Wednesday: Old boy backs Forestieri to lead Owls to Promised Land
Fans favourite Fernando Forestieri has been tipped to fire the Owls back into the Premier League after a 16-year absence.
Forestieri has been a revelation since arriving in a £3m deal from Watford last August, claiming 14 goals in 32 appearances.
He has arguably been Wednesday’s standout performer this term and is set to lead their attack against Ipswich Town on Saturday.
Ex-Wednesday and Belgian international Marc Degryse said: “If you look at a lot of the top players in the world, Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez, Riyad Mahrez, they’re not tall, they have quick feet and they can spin and turn defenders and that is what Forestieri offers Wednesday. It’s not all about being big, tall and strong as these nimble players are very technical and great crowd-pleasers. He is performing well so far this season and will give the club the push it needs for promotion.”
Degryse, who featured 38 times in all competitions, netting 12 goals in his one year at Hillsborough in the mid-90s, has praised the job Carlos Carvalhal has done in transforming the Owls’ fortunes.
“Carlos has done a great job during his first stint in English football – he is getting the players playing as a team and implementing a good style of football,” he said. “You often see nowadays with managers such as Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid that players are thinking and playing as a team and you can see similar trait in Wednesday’s team.
“Leicester are a great example of this type of mentality as they don’t have all the big names, they have cheap players but they play as a team.
“There’s a great synergy amongst the squad and players are fighting for each other, anticipating each other’s movements and playing to each other’s strengths. You’ve got to credit Claudio Ranieri who has put a system in place for these players to play at their best.
“When you have a manager who is able to get the most out of his players, they can then make the difference and I think this is happening at Sheffield Wednesday.”
Degryse, who started his career at Club Brugge, says he always looks out for Owls’ results. Carvalhal’s side currently occupy the final play-off position with five matches remaining.
“A few months ago I was speaking to Chris Waddle at the Arsenal v Barcelona match about the situation at the club,” he said. “The impression I had was positive and that, with the new owner coming in, hopefully we can get back to the old days.
“If Sheffield Wednesday were back in the Premier League, I would go back to Sheffield for the weekend. It’s great to see the club in the hunt for promotion and I hope they succeed in the play-offs.”
Degryse was one of David Pleat’s first signings in 1995. Despite frequently being played out of position, he helped the Owls avoid relegation for the second year on the spin before leaving to join Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven.
He said: “It was nice to play in the Premier League but it was too short for me. I was restricted from moving away from Anderlecht by a Bosman case that was ongoing and it was only six months before the case came out that Anderlecht allowed me to leave.
“Unfortunately by this stage it was a bit late in my career and I was almost 30.
“I have great memories of Sheffield Wednesday. David Pleat was the manager and we had a great squad with the likes of Waddle, David Hirst, Des Walker, Chris Wood and John Sheridan.
“One of the problems with our team at the time was that it was a little old and David Pleat wanted us to play a more continental style of football, which I don’t think the squad was ready for.
“Overall it was a difficult season but I enjoyed playing in the team and the experience was fantastic.
“Looking back now, I regret leaving the club, but at the time, when PSV came to me and offered me the chance to play for titles again, I wanted to go.
“The move turned out to be far from successful and if I stayed at Sheffield Wednesday for one or two more seasons, that would have been better in hindsight.
“Your first season in a new league and foreign country is always difficult but I thought mine wasn’t too bad considering we were struggling as a team. I cannot say a bad word about my one season in the Premier League or about Sheffield.”
He admits that he did not enjoy competing at the wrong end of the table.
“I wasn’t used to it and it wasn’t my cup of tea particularly,” said Degryse. “I had always played for titles at previous clubs and during that particular season it didn’t feel like we would have to fight relegation because after all, we were quite comfortable for the majority of the season.
“We had guys in the team who could do something special in terms of engagement and go over the line, or close to it, and ultimately fight for their lives.
“At the end of the day, if you have a team who are ready for a fight and a few players who can make individual differences, it helps a lot.
“A player who can easily score goals helps a lot during a relegation battle. You can fight as hard as you can but if you don’t have someone special who can produce a bit of magic, then you won’t be able to survive.”