Sheffield Wednesday: Owls look to home form to halt slide down the Championship
Conceding soft, sloppy goals at one end. Struggling to create and score enough at the other.c
As the halfway mark fast approaches, Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal still looks no closer to halting their slide down the Championship table.
Saturday’s defeat to Norwich City means the Owls are winless in five matches, sit 15th in the standings and are 10 points behind sixth-placed Sheffield United.
The statistics don’t tell the full story but the pressure is mounting on Carvalhal, who has guided Wednesday to back-to-back play-off finishes. His team are under-achieving and the Blades’ success has also contributed to Carvalhal’s woes.
As things stand, there is little positivity around Hillsborough. A big proportion of the fan-base have turned on Carvalhal and called on chairman Dejphon Chansiri to make a change.
These are undoubtedly testing times for Carvalhal and it doesn’t get any easier for him or the Owls this week. Leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers visit S6 on Friday.
One national newspaper suggested over the weekend Carvalhal would be sacked if they fail to perform against Wolves. There is no denying Carvalhal is a man under pressure and their results have not been up to scratch this season.
But is it all doom and gloom? Carvalhal remains steadfast in his belief they will get promoted and, in times of trouble, Wednesday have always been able to rely and fall back on their impressive home form.
If there is one thing Carvalhal has managed to achieve in his time in charge, it is making them hard to beat on their own turf.
The Owls have suffered just nine defeats in 56 home league matches under Carvalhal.
“We prefer to play at Hillsborough where we have our fans and we are more strong,” said Carvalhal in a recent interview.
While Wednesday have drawn far too many matches on home soil this season, their only defeat came at the hands of United back in September.
If the players can give the fans something to shout about and buy into on Friday night, the Owls’ supporters will get the place rocking. We have seen it on countless occasions where opponents have felt the full force of ‘the power of Hillsborough’.
Rewind back to April when Wednesday entertained Newcastle United. Few observers gave Carvalhal’s team much chance of beating the high-flying Magpies. With Dwight Gayle banging goals in for fun and Jonjo Shelvey pulling the strings in midfield, Newcastle entered the contest as red-hot favourites to pick up maximum points. But Wednesday had not read the script and won thanks to second half strikes by Tom Lees and Steven Fletcher. The supporters helped them get over the line that day, generating a superb atmosphere.
Coach Lee Bullen said: “Hillsborough can be one of the most intimidating stadiums for any opposition to come to and any opposition fan to come to.
“We read about it a lot after games, win draw or lose the amount of supporters from opposition teams saying the atmosphere at Hillsborough is unbelievable.”
The Owls completed the double over Newcastle, who finished top of the pile, last campaign and there have been other instances in recent years where they have mixed it with the big boys.
Although their performances and results have largely left a lot to be desired this time, Wednesday managed to turn on the style in home wins over Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.
Under the lights at Hillsborough, can the Owls raise their performance levels to compete with Wolves? Only three teams have stopped Wolves from scoring this term.
It is going to take something pretty special from Wednesday to derail Wolves’ promotion push
But they have shown they are more than capable of causing an upset.