Alex Miller's Sheffield Wednesday column: Despite recent failings, Garry Monk can steer a new cycle of success at Hillsborough

Like so many things in life, football is a cyclical beast. The excitement of it all comes in the fact that some cycles last longer than others.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 8:03 am

And there are wheels within wheels in Sheffield Wednesday’s current malaise. Staring down the top two with senior players calling out the leaders at Christmas, a new cycle began at Stoke the next day, U-turning downwards to a run of one win in nine matches that has seen them tumble from the play-off conversation.

It’s been tough to watch. Hopes that the Owls’ capitulation at Wigan was to be a watershed moment in their season were dashed by a similarly lacklustre showing at Barnsley. This week’s trip to Luton delivered as insipid a performance as you’re likely to witness.

But as sure as the sun rises tomorrow, and despite the unholy meltdown that accompanies every wheel of disappointment on social media nowadays, the Owls will win again. And manager Garry Monk has an opportunity to ensure the next cycle – hopefully a cycle of success – is a long one.

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He insists his message got lost when describing Wednesday’s play-off ambitions last weekend and there is absolutely no reason to question that.

But if you were to poll the unbaised few watching Wednesday week-in, week-out whether it was ever truly attainable this campaign, you’d get a few short answers.

It’s easy to say in hindsight of course, but even at their third-placed best in that six-match pre-Christmas run, there was a fragility and hand-to-mouth feel to the Owls that didn’t quite smack of promotion contenders. There were exceptions of course – 45 concourse-bouncing minutes in Nottingham to name one – but for a multitude of reasons it never quite felt ‘on’.

That’s not to say their current fall from grace is acceptable, of course, far from it. Monk himself has admitted that the nature their sorry surrender in recent weeks is one that deserves every criticism they’ve received.

Garry Monk has introduced the likes of Jacob Murphy (left) Osaze Urhoghide (centre) and Kadeem Harris to the Sheffield Wednesday squad this season.

But it is to the bigger cycle that should become the primary focus at Wednesday as winter turns to spring.

This writer wasn’t around much for Carlos Carvalhal’s double-play-off era, but he was aware of it enough to know it feels like a very long time ago. Too long has been spent hanging onto those happy vignettes. It’s clear the changing room has gone stale at Sheffield Wednesday.

Supporters of football clubs all over the country will bellyache for a clear-out in the coming weeks as another season’s ambition hits the filing cabinet. The difficulty so often is that moving footballers out of football clubs is hard.

With so many first-team players out of contract this summer and loan players not exactly pulling up any trees, that difficulty is taken away. Through selection and non-selection Monk has proven he has the stomach for tough decisions and has given a clear idea of the direction he’d like to take Sheffield Wednesday.

The hiring/firing model hasn’t worked. It’s time for him to start a new cycle.