Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday column: Ex-Owls player Carlton Palmer shines a refreshing light on the malaise at Hillsborough
Young and hungry. Two buzzwords when this column sat down with a Sheffield Wednesday legend to discuss what they need in future.
Types of player who have been in short supply at S6; the type to seek.
And the best way to get out of the Championship - barring a return to the big spending that has saddled the club with financial issues and doubtless forced a rethink.
Currently Wednesday are deficient in terms of youthful zest and drive to succeed. And fitness, too, in the opinion of Carlton Palmer, one of the most formidable athletes of his day.
Yet big on comfort, Palmer agreeing here with manager Garry Monk and even venturing the suspicion that the Owls have a bigger wage bill than their rivals on the Premier League side of the city.
So many people can’t be wrong, certainly considering their qualification for an opinion that counts.
Palmer’s view is that “young, fit, hungry players who can play 30-plus games a season” is the way forward for Wednesday; including some making their way up from leagues below.
That’s providing you can’t buy top players for the level - but then why would the Owls go back down that route anyway after the failed recruitment following their two play-off attempts?
“You can spend big money but if they’re not the right players you’re lumbered with them and it’ll last for three or four years,” says Carlton.
And that’s exactly what has happened, with the sad cycle only ended by what’s expected to be a contractual clear-out in the summer.
That’s also when, with a big reshaping opportunity opening, Palmer would like to see a football director added to the management team - though he insists: “The criticism can’t be at the chairman because he’s put his money where his mouth is.”
A personal view from Palmer is that an esteemed former Owls boss (and chairman) is a natural resource not to waste. He added: “I know Howard Wilkinson lives down the road, he goes there every weekend. What he doesn’t know about football isn’t worth knowing.”
Whatever the approach, Monk has “got to be given time” says Palmer. “One thing that is clear - there are a lot of players on big money not performing. That seems to be a recurring theme for the last three or four years. They (some) don’t look fit to me and that’s apparent because the players don’t play enough games.”
It’s a weak chemistry, in Palmer’s opinion - a lack of character, togetherness and leadership.
“You wouldn’t know what their best starting line-up was,” he declares.
Monk probably doesn’t, either, but he will have clear ideas on the way ahead.
Downplaying the play-offs has understandably drawn some criticism. But why talk up something that’s looking so remote in the widespread expectation of a points deduction?
And that is one issue decidedly not of Monk’s making, way beyond his control and overshadowing everything.