Why a Good Friday win over Preston North End would be symbolic for Sheffield Wednesday: Chris Holt's Owls Column
It was a day that began with thousands of Sheffield Wednesday fans hopping across to Lancashire filled with hope and no little expectation for the beginning of a season that could end in glory.
It ended with those same fans wondering what on earth they’d just witnessed.
The Owls were tipped to be challenging for at least a play-off place again; some even suggested they could sneak into the automatic promotion positions.
After 90-odd minutes at Preston North End’s Deepdale, those ambitions suddenly crashed and appeared to be a world away.
Wednesday, to be totally frank, were absolutely terrible.
Their passing - when not being knocked from side-to-side with no attacking intent - was atrocious, there was no creative energy in the team, the defence appeared unusually suspect and only for Keiren Westwood, it would have been much more than 1-0 to Alex Neil’s men.
They simply didn’t appear ready for the challenge of a new campaign.
Even with it being the opening day, the supporters who travelled jeered Wednesday off the pitch, which was more a sign of the release of pent-up frustration. A hangover of a failed play-off attempt a couple of months earlier and the lack of new faces in the squad.
Overall it provided the warning signs for what we would eventually see.
On Good Friday, Preston arrive at Hillsborough to take on a Sheffield Wednesday team much-changed in terms of ambition and mindset, but at least half the players who were at Deepdale that day are likely to be involved.
August 5, 2017 is a date in which Owls fans will perhaps look to and feel they saw the beginning of the end, they’ll look at Preston as something of a milestone.
Those who turn out this time have an opportunity to gain some kind of redemption from that day.
Jos Luhukay, of course not at the club at the time, admitted the players involved may have spoken this week about the opening match but said there’s no point in looking to the past as it can’t be changed.
That much is obvious, but there’s a chance here to exorcise some demons and offer more hope for a strong finish to the campaign and in turn reignite a fanbase that has been put through the mill somewhat this season. Obviously the season didn’t fall apart because Wednesday lost 1-0 on the opening day to a side who have gone on to have an excellent season.
However, it did set the tone for some incredibly insipid performances that should never have been turned out by a squad brimming with such quality and experience as this.
You can’t change the past, as Luhukay points out. But you can shape the future and a redemptive victory for the Owls in this game could prove to be symbolic in leaving behind the ills of the season.