Alan Biggs at Large: Sheffield Wednesday’s Thai takeover now a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’

One day...all this could be yours
One day...all this could be yours
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You keep hearing “it” is close – with such regularity that there appears no reason, other than superstition, to dispute that “it” will happen.

I hesitate to raise the hopes of Sheffield Wednesday supporters, for whom seeing is believing, that an impending takeover will put an end to Groundhog Day on and off the field.

But this column can report, in all sincerity, that the backstage whispers before and after the midweek goalless draw with Birmingham were a great deal more hopeful than anything served up on a dreadful Hillsborough pitch.

Everyone is naturally cautious after all that has gone before. But you would have to have been deaf not to hear insiders talk of “when and not if”, some even suggesting “it” could be announced before the ink has dried on this sentence!

“On the brink,” was another phrase I heard as this column was being written, albeit not the official word.

In reality, a buy-out is always as close as the money (or a sizeable first portion of it) dropping into a bank account. Or as far. “Ratification,” as we well know, is merely a euphemism for paying up.

If a Thai takeover is going through (as I have no known cause to doubt) then the money will be there. Expect no announcement until it is. But the timing is tricky. Buy players in this window or plan ahead with the Owls now nine points adrift of the top six? You’d maybe want a bit of both.

What is clear in my mind is that, however well-intentioned, Wednesday won’t bridge the gap by giving playing time to talented young players on the fringe of Premier League squads.

I say that with no disrespect to Lewis Baker (Chelsea) and Will Keane (Manchester United). Or to Milan Mandaric and Stuart Gray for bringing them in when money is tight.

Both loanees showed promise, as you’d expect, against a resilient Birmingham. Baker has an eye for a pass and makes good runs forward, Keane is obviously an accomplished link player with a silky touch, albeit without much physical threat.

But Wednesday need proven experience and know-how to create or score the goals to escape this league. This is where manager and chairman (as Mandaric will doubtless continue to be) need help.

I think it’s a surprisingly short step from a team of Wednesday’s durability and workmanlike qualities to make the difference. Maybe two players. But two players who cost significant money.

It’s only events behind the scenes, now or in the near future, that will determine whether they get them. As for the current timing, Wednesday can’t win. Get a takeover announced now and the clamour for signings (plus the prices) will go up. Announce after the window and the cynical will suspect a deliberate delay.

No prevaricating on one count, though. The pitch is one key position that definitely needs investment.