Like a few of you, I guess, your correspondent is in the pub league predictions business for a bit of weekly fun. So how are you getting on with the Championship?
I’m in a state of befuddlement trying to pick promotion winners – and having to do it early, too, with this column putting its feet up for the next couple of weeks. Which is why I’m poring over Sheffield Wednesday’s prospects in advance. And if I’m honest I haven’t the foggiest. That’s what makes the new Hillsborough season so fascinating.
Looking down the 24 Championship clubs, a good 15 of them will consider themselves, on size and history, to be contenders. And yes, the Owls have to be among them. But they are different from the rest because they are so different from last season – as arguably the club undergoing the greatest degree of change. That is what what makes them so hard to call.
If you’d asked me the question in mid-summer I’d have feared a post-takeover anti-climax. Now, with a whole new philosophy and a higher calibre of recruit, anything is possible – including a serious tilt for the top two.
The reservation would be that a late assembly of the squad, amid an intensive recruitment drive, will make it hard to hit the ground running. Have patience for a settled team. But the ambition suggests it can be achieved and that is the task facing Carlos Carvalhal who, for all the early consternation over his appointment, carries no little personal charisma.
It’s one of the beauties of football that sometimes the barmiest-looking ventures can prove to be the most inspired. No-one’s calling this barmy anymore. I’m going top half for the Owls and let’s take it from there.