The Sheffield Wednesday players who surprised me and possibly you - Alan Biggs' Owls Column

Lest anyone overreact to one defeat, Sheffield Wednesday’s season has the capacity to go down as an object lesson in the folly of writing people off.

By Alan Biggs
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 1:33 pm

From the manager to any number of players. And even the club itself during those dark autumnal and mid-winter days when the team couldn’t get any sort of run going.

Within that were individual struggles for acceptance and trust. In most cases, opinions have cartwheeled from criticism, bordering on derision, to respect and even admiration.

It’s got to the point where - apart from a surprise loss at Lincoln last Saturday - every single player is contributing well when called on, which says a lot for the unflappability and man-management of Darren Moore amid a chaotic campaign.

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If Moore has altered perceptions of himself then it is in his nature to be even more pleased for those signings that have been doubted.

Take George Byers. For all the 25-year-old midfielder’s Championship pedigree with Swansea, I confess I saw nothing in him in his early appearances.

The game seemed to pass him by, yet lately he has played with verve and confidence, a perfect dovetail with Barry Bannan and Massimo Luongo in driving from the centre of the park and chipping in with goals.

Take Marvin Johnson. The former Middlesbrough winger looked a bit of a misfit in the early days, more of a fill-in merchant.

But he showed both his quality and adaptability in an admirable spell as an emergency centre back, occasionally even offering overlapping shades of another parish.

Lately, as a wing-back, Johnson has become one of Wednesday’s major attacking threats with menacing drive and delivery from the left flank.

Take Jack Hunt. At 31, below his past standards in the first part of the season but now firmly back in the groove on the right.

Take Saido Berahino. There were knowing nods about the ex-West Brom and Stoke maverick as he struggled to make an impact going into the New Year.

While he’s still yet to set the world alight you can see a burning desire within him and, amid a number of committed and dangerous displays, it was wonderful to see Berahino walk off to an ovation when he was subbed late in the recent win over Charlton.

Take Liam Palmer. Ok, only the more churlish have questioned the value of the Owls’ longest-serving player, his dogged dependability at full back or centre back.

But Palmer is unspectacular, not flash - actually one of his strengths - and can be a ready target when results are not right.

And finally you can take Barry Bannan. Well, not literally I hope! Another magnet of criticism in dodgy spells but a man on a mission, as captain, that goes way beyond proving himself as the best player outside the top two divisions.

Wrap up that bundle and others besides - Callum Paterson, how useful is he in any number of roles? - and the lesson is clear. Write off at your peril.