Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday column: Inconsistency at Hillsborough - and the Championship in general - is infuriating
The lower standard is up, the top standard is down - two conflicting views from here on the Championship dumbing down this season.
And within that, evidence of why, for Sheffield Wednesday and so many others, this division is harder than ever to escape. Paradoxically at a time when it has never been more mundane.
It’s like suction, the equalising effect; also the reason why clubs at this level, not just the Owls, have overstretched themselves to clamber out.
Maybe, too, why there is confusion over the club’s battle with the EFL that could bring a season-wrecking points deduction.
Bring on a quick verdict is one view - as previously urged here - so that everyone knows where they stand.
Delay it indefinitely is another. And you suspect that second argument is winning - with a similarly-charged Derby County joining Wednesday in claiming the EFL’s position is “unlawful.”
By fighting their corner legally, are Wednesday and Derby effectively kicking the ball into the long grass in the hope of fleeing to the Premier League before sanctions can be imposed? Quite possibly.
Good luck to them if they succeed, woe betide them if they don’t. The public poking of a governing body determined to put down a marker on spending excesses is high-risk as well as high-reward.
Except that it is seemingly NOT solely about breaching spending limits in either of these cases. In Wednesday’s, they were cited for HOW and WHEN their ground sale wriggled through a loophole opened by the EFL itself.
That’s what makes this something of a test case - possibly Derby’s too - and leaves it virtually impossible to call. It is different to Birmingham’s charges, last season and again this. Strength in numbers is another factor and arguably the EFL need to bolt their own stable door before trying to round up bolting horses.Which brings us back to the cause of it all (besides destabilising parachute payments from the Premier League and the financial imbalances in the game).
Just like in so many a close game, the Championship is cancelling itself out. Take a glance. Up to 17 clubs could conceivably yet get into the top six. Eight or so could go down. As many still have some hope of going up automatically.
Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray told me: “Everybody is striving for consistency ... and every team is struggling to find it.”
For me, Neil Warnock called it right recently when he said Fulham had the best squad of players. No team, not West Brom or Leeds, has ripped it up. Wednesday can beat anyone on their day, as they did at Elland Road. There is a lower top standard AND general standard. Maybe that’s what makes the Championship so exciting and frustrating.
Make that infuriating in Wednesday’s case. The fact that, last Saturday, they came off great away wins makes their no-show even worse - because they had set standards. Unforgivable and unacceptable are two words used sparingly here. Both apply to what is expected between now and the end of the season.