Much has been made of signings who have not hit it off at Sheffield Wednesday, but what about those who have?
Or are now doing in the case of Lucas Joao. And what about a £5m winger who has emerged as several players in one besides being, along with Barry Bannan, the most consistent player at the club?
Adam Reach was widely belittled in the weeks following his arrival from Middlesbrough just over two years ago. Even being a wholehearted performer did not seem to cut him any slack.
Now the only semblance of any dissent from those who watch the Owls regularly is over which position is his best. What is not in dispute is that he picks himself – not only for his ability in a variety of roles but for his leadership by example, as a player who never hid even when he was a focus of criticism.
Underpinning all this is a recent revelation from the manager who signed him, Carlos Carvalhal, that Wednesday had rejected a £9m offer for Reach from a Premier League club. Full marks to the chairman on that, by the way.
Stockpiling may have contributed to the financial fair play squeeze but the best playing assets have been retained and Reach has more than emerged as one of those.
As a big player of rising confidence, with a club very much on the mend, the 25-year-old will relish a challenging run of games starting against Stoke on Saturday and continuing into Aston Villa, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a big proving period for the Owls as a collective, if not Reach as an individual.
What he offers, besides his ability, is options and no matter what the system. From being a left-sided midfielder or left back in a 4-4-2, he has adapted to being either an attacking midfielder or striker in a 4-3-3.
He was also Jos Luhukay’s best bet for a wing back role had there been a perseverance with 3-5-2. Where he could score better, literally, is in goals – nine in more than 100 appearances. There is much power to add.
Anyway, it’s good that the team is more flexible these days and not just this player. Certainly, it was interesting to hear Carvalhal – talking to Luke Aaron Moore in his “Football Ramble” podcast – admit to one thing he could have done in his latter days at Hillsborough: “Maybe change the system.”
Many, including this writer, would agree on that. But I think history will judge Carvalhal much more fairly and accurately on his two promotion near-misses and the fact that the influential return of his of his players is helping Wednesday regain some momentum.
He is also respectful of the bridging job started, and now continuing apace, by his successor, Luhukay, who, he says, “did very well” last season and especially with the young players.
*** One more book to commend – “Wednesday v United, The Sheffield Derby”, from Pitch Publishing, an entertaining - and personal – history of the frenzied fixture. Writer Richard Crooks joins newly-published
Blades author Danny Hall on my Sheffield Live show this Thursday.