Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday column: Good start for Garry Monk but plenty still to ponder

Was it just this column or did Garry Monk’s winning start as Sheffield Wednesday boss carry similarities to some of many good days under Carlos Carvalhal?

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 5:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 5:10 pm
First match win for Owls new Manager Garry Monk. Pic Steve Ellis.

Wednesday were compact, well-organised and produced flashes of quality in timely moments. Oh, and they played 4-4-2.

If the Owls have to go back to go forward, so be it.

Fulham at Hillsborough on Saturday will provide a more meaningful test, the first really big one of the season despite the visitors lying a point behind the Owls just outside the top six.

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That makes a nonsense of Fulham’s resources and the truly justified expectations they carry. But can Monk exceed those of many Wednesday followers after two moderate-to-poor seasons with largely the same group?

It’s certainly possible, much as the new man was right to keep stressing there’s “a lot of work to be done” after a professional - let’s not take it too high - opening display against a demoralised looking Huddersfield.

Monk kept it real by taking most satisfaction from a padlock-type display when his team were out of possession. It has been a feature of his work with former clubs and is important as a base.

Without being over-analytical of a job well done by two well-crafted and taken goals, there were areas of concern.

Wednesday seemed to sit back a little deep after a flying start instead of taking the initiative. That is familiar.

There was also a lack of balance on the flanks. As impressive as Kadeem Harris continues to be on the left, Jacob Murphy is labouring on the right and yet to fulfil hopes of a talented player’s loan from Newcastle.

And is Adam Reach’s new deployment alongside the monumental Steven Fletcher up front an answer to providing more goal threat?

Well, yes and no. Reach is not a natural in the role and Monk sees him wide.

However, if Reach can be released on runs in the role just behind Fletcher he has the ability to trouble defences.

And, as he showed at Huddersfield, he is dangerous with a glimpse of goal around the edge of the box.

Sam Winnall is now a genuine contender up front after a purposeful showing capped by a goal in his burst from the bench.

And there is little doubt that Wednesday have the required calibre in central midfield where the Barry Bannan-Sam Hutchinson axis is supported by Kieran Lee.

That said, physical power and athleticism is one area in which Wednesday were briefly threatened by a younger but wasteful Huddersfield in what was also Danny Cowley’s first game.

Will it all balance up? One thing I think we can guarantee is that Monk will maximise the capabilities of this squad.

As one or two replies last week rightly emphasised on Twitter, the aim has to be promotion if at all possible.

For better or worse, this is the squad until January, by which time we’ll have a clearer picture, and this column would be delighted to be convinced that more than a push for the play-offs is within its scope.