Who would have thought it would take the champions of English football to halt Sheffield Wednesday’s marvellous away run?
Who honestly believed Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini would field such a strong side in a third round Capital One Cup tie with important Premier League and Champions League tussles looming on the horizon?
More to the point, who genuinely thought City would produce a dazzling, at times breathtaking second-half performance after a flat, lacklustre showing in the opening 45 minutes? Their below-par display was largely down to Wednesday. Credit should be given to them for being so disciplined and organised. It is a shame that will be overlooked by people in years to come when they look back on the tie. They took a beating but the final scoreline was harsh.
You had to hand it to City for some of the stylish football they produced. Some of their passing, movement off the ball and finishing was truly of the highest standard. Mind you, that’s the sort of quality you should expect to see when a club shells out millions of pounds on world class players every year. Luckily for Wednesday, Sergio Aguero, David Silva or Samir Nasri were injured or it might have been an even bigger hiding!
What will stay with me forever is the backing Wednesday received from the 5,400 fans who made the trip from South Yorkshire. Even when things started to go horribly pear-shaped, they carried on supporting the team and sang their hearts out.
It is up to Stuart Gray and his backroom staff to lift the players after their humbling. Some fans questioned Gray’s wisdom in leaving out first-team regulars Keiren Westwood, Glenn Loovens, Jose Semedo and Atdhe Nuhiu. But Gray is the man who gets paid to make the big decisions. He will judged by the board, media and supporters by where Wednesday finish in the Championship come next May.
Realistically, even if the Owls had some how beaten City, they are unlikely to have won the competition. The league is, as it should be, their number one priority. If Wednesday pick up five or more points from the league matches against Cardiff, Ipswich and Leeds before the next international break to maintain their impressive start, that will ease the pain of the second-half City mauling.