OPINION: A year of hope for Sheffield football fans

Thumbs up for Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal from owner Dejphon Chansiri
Thumbs up for Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal from owner Dejphon Chansiri
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It’s 365 days sinceDejphon Chansiri took over Sheffield Wednesday football club, and the Owls are flying high once more.

A tranche of marquee signings such as Gary Hooper and Fernando Forestieri have led the charge up the Championship table, taking a team which finished 13th last year to the heady heights of the play-offs.

Sheffield United players celebrate their win over Scunthorpe

Sheffield United players celebrate their win over Scunthorpe

Victories against Premier League Newcastle and Arsenal in the cup – the latter a rip-roaring 3-0 drubbing of Arsene Wenger’s men – have thrust the once overlooked club right into the national spotlight.

Will the Owls go up? Who knows. But the Thai owner pledged to push the club towards the Premier League within two years.

If things continue on the current path, that lofty ambition could even be surpassed.

That is the key: ambition. The Owls are now a club on the up, and the fanbase are filled with hope.

Whatever happens this season, there is a hopeful feeling around the club that everything is moving in the right direction, both on the pitch and off it.

As any football fan will know, hope is what drives fans to spend hours on the terraces, often in the freezing cold in the dark winter months, hoping their team will kick on into that promotion spot, into that cup final, or just pick up three points off a despised local rival.

Some Sheffield United fans might be looking on enviously at the Owls’ current path as Nigel Adkins’ men push ever harder to break out of League One after five years.

Just as Owls fans felt more than a tinge of jealousy when the Blades were up in the Premier League, of course.

But head over to pages 48-49 and read up on the club’s pioneering academy.

The club’s setup is ranked the best in the region for developing young players under the Elite Player Performance Plan – and is now aiming for ‘best in the world’.

That’s down to some clever ideas and fresh thinking that is now being picked up by the FA and could be rolled out to other academies.

It is surely only a matter of time before such a highly rated setup produces the kind of home-grown starlets that will fire the Blades up into the Championship – and maybe beyond.

As the birthplace of football, it’s only right that both of Sheffield’s professional teams find a path to greater and greater success in the future; something the whole city can celebrate.

We can only hope...