Can swatting a League Two team trigger a good season? Yes, if Sheffield Wednesday tackle Championship opponents in the same way.
Unusual to say before any game, especially a first in the league at home, but there are important considerations for Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday beyond beating Queens Park Rangers. Like the way they start. The way they play in general.
Be positive and threatening with promise for the future, as against Chesterfield in midweek, and I’d guess, for all the early restlessness, this Hillsborough crowd will forgive the vagaries of the result. Be cautious and sterile and you know what’s coming.
The onus for me is more on the players – good, experienced, handsomely paid – than the head coach and certainly the owner. Tuesday produced a strong first response, working the ball quickly and wide, plenty of crosses.
But let’s look at the strong relationship the top two share. They won’t need telling the side needs freshening, as has long been obvious. It’s more about how, with the window still open, they go about giving things a telling tweak.
Not all the upgrades since Dejphon Chansiri bought the club have involved spending money. Perhaps the most startling has been not receiving it. And
I mean ANY, other than television and commercial revenue allied to gate receipts.
The Owls have not received a significant fee for a player going into the third season of the Thai businessman’s reign. It underlines the strength of his commitment, on top of the vast sums expended.
What a refreshing change from the days when players like Chris Brunt and Glenn Whelan had to be sold.
No manager has had a stronger base than Carlos Carvalhal. No manager, by his own admission, could ask for a more supportive chairman.
There has not been – and presumably never will be during this regime – an occasion when a player valued by the team boss has been allowed to leave. Who in their right mind would want that to change?
But I do think there’s actually a time and place for a strategic sale or two and just wonder whether, without this, Wednesday can successfully reshape and freshen the squad within the constraints of Financial Fair Play.
Not just talking about fringe players here, of which there are too many. They aren’t the ones who attract the bids.
It’s FFP and not any lack of funding that limits the Owls in the market. Combined with the laudable policy to keep all good players, this has left the squad, and certainly the first team, looking a bit stale. Has there been enough change to liven it up and avoid predictability?
This is easier said than done. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. On the basis of the past two seasons, Wednesday have most of the parts in place. But even the richest clubs in the world sell good players occasionally to replace with others.
Not because they need the money but because change stimulates competition and prevents complacency.
Coming to the point, this is also where the traditional managerial role comes in – being charged with making difficult decisions to reshape a squad, maybe involving a controversial departure or two. It’s where managers show their mettle.
In common with many these days, Carvalhal does not appear to have the power to do this, only advise. Certainly, the chairman has the big call on all transfers, to which he’s entitled and is not necessarily wrong.
I admire what they’ve achieved together thus far. But, with Chansiri openly admitting he’s a novice in football terms and FFP changing the landscape, why not give the vastly experienced head coach more control of those big calls?
It’s merely a suggestion about the future and how to make those key adjustments that finally take the Owls into the Premier League.
Chansiri is a smart, principled guy who’s been learning on the job and likes those around him to give an honest opinion. This is well-intentioned, unprompted by anyone and offered in that spirit.