Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday column: Only thing Owls can do is plough on in the face of adversity

Keep on keeping on. That seems to be the only approach for Sheffield Wednesday right now.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 8:00 am
High Fives Owls skipper Barry Bannan and Adam Reach…..Pic Steve Ellis
High Fives Owls skipper Barry Bannan and Adam Reach…..Pic Steve Ellis

For all that it needs change, the club is in the grip of inertia and there are valid reasons why that is difficult, if not impossible, to shake.

Best case scenario is that the Owls avoid the severest sanctions the EFL can impose and strike out again for the top six (writing here ahead of the midweek game).

Worst case scenario is that a hefty points deduction would leave them fighting relegation.

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Either way, they need this squad of players largely intact. This squad of highly-paid, ageing, albeit reputable, players which should have been overhauled long ago.

That’s the dilemma and also another reason why I feel transfer windows are so damaging to the football industry.

Windows prohibit change, protract the process and prevent a gradual, ongoing resolution of the sort of financial imbalance Wednesday need badly to address.

Where I have some sympathy is in these questions: how can they? when can they do it?

Allowing that serious misjudgements on recruitment and general trading have created the problem, the way football is conducted acts as a vice offering no easy way out.

Obviously, the first imperative is for the EFL - beefed up by new leadership and clearly (understandably) determined to enforce stricter adherence to the principles of financial fair play - need to decide quickly what action, if any, to take.

No-one has confidence in this but the quicker the better and for Wednesday’s own good as well as the integrity of the Championship as a competition.

Still, though, we would be left with the same two scenarios with very little in between - and hardly any scope for the club to scale down its playing costs.

Eleven players may be out of contract next summer but until then the club is in a stranglehold of circumstances.

Would you conduct a fire sale in January if you had either a chance of promotion to the Premier League (solving near enough everything) or ran a risk of an unthinkable drop into the third tier?

A month of trading, against its stampeding backdrop of mayhem and madness, means nothing. Certainly nothing in terms of projecting into the future. It is for short-term fixes only.

And that’s where windows damage the industry. They conspire against long-term strategies.

Yes, Wednesday will have an opportunity next summer, when they know where they are for better or worse, to address the whole issue of their bloated squad. And hopefully the required action will take place.​​​​​​​

But how much better it would be if adjustments could be made continuously, outside of a fabricated madhouse? A player offloaded or sold here, a younger one brought in there. A gradual ongoing tweaking of things to bring costs down and push value for money up.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

This is what used to happen in a much saner world. Clubs would do well to campaign for its return rather than driving themselves to excess and then spitefully arguing among themselves.

In the meantime, Wednesday are in a catch-22. Yes, it’s of their own making but the escape route is blocked by procedure.

Supporters are entitled to be worried or depressed, or both. But there really is little choice for now other than encourage this manager, this squad and these players to plough on.

And hope for the best possible outcome. With simply staying in the Championship a decent prize as part of that equation.