Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday column: Garry Monk not the first manager to question this group of players

Garry Monk is preaching to the converted here and this long-broken record.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 12:22 pm
A angry Owls boss Garry Monk after a bad defeat at Wigan. Pic Steve Ellis

The important thing is that Sheffield Wednesday finally action what has been obvious to so many for so long.

And you have to say that, barring late senior outgoings, another window looks to have largely slipped by in that respect.

t’s one thing Monk threatening a shake-up, as he has throughout January rising to a pitch in midweek, another thing making it happen.

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A bad deeat for the Owls and skipper Barry Bannan at Wigan. Pic Steve Ellis

Because it’s not just about now, this manager and this window.

It’s about the circumstances of every manager and every window since the summer of a losing play-off final in 2016.

It’s about the need to part with players as well as sign them, to balance trading and, above all, not to let the squad become too cosy.

And so, after losing at Wigan on Tuesday, Monk delivered the verdict of many a Wednesday watcher over at least the past two years; that things were “too comfortable for some.”

Results over a long period tell you that anyway - including the current league run of five defeats in six.

Some sympathy for the owner here in seeing many millions and much faith thrown back in his face, although you respectfully hope that the way the football business is run will be - or is being - re-evaluated.

The timing is overdue while also being opportune in another sense with 11 senior contracts up in the summer, some of the players who are hard to shift in the meantime, even on loan, because of the scale of their wages.

And this repeating groove wouldn’t be complete without adding the fervent wish for a manager-led recruitment team and strategy, as for instance employed with some success on the other side of the city.

So, which Sheffield Wednesday will turn up against Millwall on Saturday? For starters, hopefully one playing forwards and not back.

People talk about systems and tactics but you should be able to perm any eleven from the Owls squad, in any formation, and do infinitely better. For me, there was nothing materially wrong with the line-up Monk put out in midweek.

The fall-out from that 5-0 horror show against Blackburn extended to criticism of his election in a pattern of 4-3-3 (with the ball) and effectively 4-5-1 (without it).

While I accept that as contributory, Monk’s own subsequent comments on the “culture and mentality” of his squad were much nearer the mark.

There was simply no excuse whatsoever for that performance and good results either side of it - including the response in last week’s FA Cup win at QPR - actually make it worse, not better.

Good teams set standards and never drop them to that sort of level - or those of Wednesday’s trio of defeats around the turn of the year and now Wigan.

Wednesday need a proper show back on home soil (where they have lost the last three) to even begin to move on past it.

As for the set-up, I agree with those who favour 4-4-2, especially at home. The best, most convincing front-foot displays have been in that mode.

Equally, while no-one is blaming Sam Winnall, Wednesday need an “out ball” to a big striker.

In the damaging absence of Steven Fletcher, Atdhe Nuhiu seems to me to select himself.

Millwall can’t fail to have noticed how Wednesday became hemmed in by Blackburn’s high press a fortnight ago. Clumsy and casual attempts to play their way out were frustrated with no way of going direct to the front.

But that situation also called for individuals to take more responsibility.

Who knows what actually constitutes a favourable run of games in the Championship? But you might just plump for the next six - Millwall, Reading, Charlton (home); Barnsley, Luton, Birmingham (away).