Anything but homely… - FIVE talking points from Sheffield Wednesday disappointing defeat to Luton Town
Another home game. Another home defeat. Another night of frustrated, and worried, Sheffield Wednesday fans on social media and beyond.
It’s not good, is it? 11 home games now without a win at Hillsborough for the Owls, and – even though this is a new group of players who are still gelling etc. – there’s most certainly cause for concern.
The most worrying factor, however, about the Owls’ defeat against Luton Town on Saturday evening was the fact that, in probably their worst performance of the season so far, I don’t think they deserved anything from it.
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I’m not about the extremism. I’m not going to slip into the trap of thinking Wednesday are God’s gift to football after a win and the worst thing to happen to the sport after a defeat, but that monkey on Wednesday’s is getting bigger and bigger with every passing game.
Look, Wednesday are going to lose games, it’s why it’s so important to stay level headed and to not throw the baby out with the bathwater when there has clearly been progress – but something’s got to give if they’re going to turn this around.
Yes, this group of players aren’t the ones who are on an 11-game winless streak at Hillsborough, but there’s not getting away from a stat that shows the club’s worst form in recent memory.
I’m inclined to agree with Monk when he says that the players are still in the building phase and that there’s a transition going on, but you have to worry whether there’s becoming a bit of a mental issue around Hillsborough now as we approach eight months without a win on home turf.
There was a thought process from some that fan pressure could’ve played a role in Wednesday’s poor home form, but now – with nobody there – that theory doesn’t hold any water anymore.
You can’t ignore it…
Wednesday have looked better this season, there’s no doubt about it. As I said previously, you can see that there has been progress made. I have to wonder what things would look like now if that last-minute equaliser hadn’t gone in from Queens Park Rangers and that miserable winless run at home had come to an end.
But you can’t ignore the fact that Monk’s small squad became even thinner in the build-up and after that 1-1 with QPR, and there have been some major blows in terms of key personnel at the club.
I think losing Dominic Iorfa, Tom Lees, Massimo Luongo or Izzy Brown individually at any point would put the Owls at a disadvantage, but to lose them all at once is a humungous dent in Monk’s plans.
Iorfa and Luongo’s absence over the last couple of matches has been especially telling, with many aspects of their respective games being missed. With Lees on the pitch I reckon SWFC beat QPR. I reckon Iorfa deals with Ivan Toney better v Brentford and Luongo would no doubt have improved them v Luton. Izzy Brown’s delivery and intelligence has been missed ever since he picked up his knock.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that the sooner any of them are back, the better.
Hardly a Hylton Hotel
He was a pain, wasn’t he?
Danny Hylton put in a proper number nine’s performance for Luton on Saturday. He was a constant thorn in the side of the Wednesday defence, niggling away at Aden Flint, Odubajo and Van Aken throughout the entire game.
He was big, strong and showed some real elements of the old school centre forward that plenty of football fans like to see. The way he held the ball up, the way he harried the Owls backline and got in their faces certainly played a part in the Hatters’ win.
There was a running battle with him and Van Aken in the first half and then Odubajo in the second, and I recall one moment when he literally got in the latter’s face after a bit of argy-bargy on the touchline.
They’re a physical team, Luton. And it showed on Saturday – Hylton was just the one that I think summed things up well.
No excuses, because I don’t think Wednesday really deserved anything from yesterday’s game, but even on a bad day there were some major decisions what went against them.
I thought Van Aken’s foul was a red at first glance to be honest, but with the benefit of a replay I think it was more of a late foul that warranted a foul and a yellow. He was sent off and the Owls were down to 10.
Flint had the ball in the net and had it disallowed for a foul. Kadeem Harris was brought down in the box and no penalty was given. It doesn’t really feel like many 50/50 calls go their way, and Monk feels that way too.
Speaking after the game, when asked about Van Aken’s red, he said, “We know quite clearly that if we make those sort of decisions then they’re going to go against us, not for us, I think that’s been clear from the outset this season… We can’t give referees this season a decision to make, because we know they could possibly go against us.”
I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but…
Looking back at some of the comments on Wednesday this season from fans, pundits and more, there’s a famous quote from legendary American college football coach, Lou Holtz.
Holtz, while he may have questionable political views, did some amazing work with college athletes in the States and is credited for a quote that I think is quite apt.
“You're never as good as everyone tells you when you win,” he said. “And you're never as bad as they say when you lose.”
For me, that’s important to remember this season.