Alan Biggs: Sheffield Wednesday need to regain a sense of identity after stockpiling too many players

Owls Manager Jos Luhukay.....Pic Steve Ellis
Owls Manager Jos Luhukay.....Pic Steve Ellis
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Hold tight and all will be right; that has been the popular mantra around Sheffield Wednesday in the wait for a raft of the club’s best players to return.

And one horrendous display does not in itself deflect from that view. But I doubt, for all his protestations of the same, Jos Luhukay will believe it’s quite that simple.

While the cave-in to Birmingham centred on individual howlers, how many times did a team seemingly bereft of confidence give the ball away in the approach to those goals?

For me, the malaise started further up the pitch and certainly could not be entirely pinned on struggling skipper Glenn Loovens, victim of an ominous tactical substitution after just 25 minutes, other defenders or the outstandingly talented Joe Wildsmith, who simply had one of those days from which any resilient character - as goalkeepers have to be - can gain so much.

No, there was a fragility about the whole side, a lack of drive and direction, no focal point. Being realistic, did we not see a hint of this in some of the earlier unbeaten games too?

Not enough maybe to precipitate an unthinkable brush with relegation - but that needs to be demonstrated by a stronger collective, starting in Saturday’s derby at Barnsley.

The injury pile-up has been misleading. Although it may have suggested the opposite, Wednesday actually have too many players. And a much of a muchness. Even under-strength, look at the many rotations in midfield and up front.

It’s a pity, I think, that with FFP pressing, there was no unloading during the January window – though a reluctance, based on the league position, is understandable to an extent.

Including those loaned in or out, and recent young bloods, the senior squad numbers 37.

What can result from a tendency to stockpile, however well intentioned, is a lack of collective unity in a group. Too many choices when all are fit, too many changes, too much uncertainty.

And if most are well paid and secure on contracts it can be very hard to shuffle the pack, as perhaps the Owls found in this window and will in the next.

Undoubtedly, too, poor recruitment has contributed. Among other ventures, the Sam Winnall-Jacob Butterfield interchange with Derby has proved an absolute shocker so far.

Butterfield has looked a shadow of the player I saw regularly at Barnsley and Huddersfield. But there he was played as an attacking midfielder, a wide raider and a great crosser.

He is no holding anchorman, a position duplicated by David Jones, Sam Hutchinson (when fit) and Luhukay signing Joey Pelupessy. Again, much of a muchness?

Everyone knows what a returning Hutchinson, Barry Bannan, Kieran Lee, Gary Hooper and Fernando Forestieri (assuming he fits a new style and approach) can produce.

They could change the whole outlook, though I still feel another commanding centre back is required to underpin a 3-5-2 system.

Long term, however, Wednesday need to regain a stronger sense of identity as a team, as a fighting unit where players dig each other out rather than looking after their own game.

That’s why it’s not simply a case of holding tight for all to be right and why Luhukay has a big job on to create the internal bond on which all managers depend.