Apologies, a telling-off and tactical insight – things we heard sat behind the Sheffield Wednesday dugout
Sheffield Wednesday’s 2022/23 season got underway in lukewarm fashion on Saturday afternoon with a goalless draw at Alfreton Town.
The football was largely forgettable but the exercise very worthwhile as the 20 outfield players who featured were able to stretch their legs across 45 minutes each and put together some pleasant patterns of play.
And lucky enough to be stationed in the Alfreton press box just a couple of metres behind the dugout, The Star was given the opportunity to listen-in on some of the instructions Smith gave to his players. It made for a fascinating eavesdrop.
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Here are a few of the things said that paint a picture of how Wednesday went about the afternoon.
“Make sure we're right, Dom..”
Wednesday lined up in a 3-5-2 similar to their most favoured set-up last season.
Moore has spoken a number of times about the importance of the role at the heart of the back three, one carried out by Dominic Iorfa in the first half, with new boy Ben Heneghan stepping into the position in the second.
The role is important positionally, organisationally and a whole lot else. Smith was encouraging Iorfa to switch on and be more forceful in his instructions to not only his two defensive partners, but the midfield three in front of him.
Liam Palmer played on the right of the back three in the first half and acquitted himself well.
One of Smith’s repeat instructions was for Palmer to get higher up the pitch and add bodies beyond the ball.
It may well be that former managers at a club across the city are praised with the inventing the notion of overlapping centre-halves, but they crept into Wednesday’s play last season with Palmer a main player in the tactic.
“Come for it, Sylla..”
There was a definite shift in tactic up top for Wednesday from first half to second.
The first half saw Sylla Sow partner main man Lee Gregory up top. With the midfield three sat in a little deeper, the pair were encouraged to drop into midfield and bring others into play, in doing so moving Alfreton defenders around. Gregory is a natural at that, Sow needed more prompting.
In the second half, Callum Paterson and Michael Smith played higher up the field with Josh Windass operating as a 10.
“In one, in one..”
Probably the most common instructions sent from the bench all afternoon, particularly in the second half, were about moving the ball quicker.
When Wednesday were at their most dominant last season, this was a really keen feature of their play.
Smith and first team coach Simon Ireland wanted their players to be bolder and move the ball through the channels faster.
“Fiz, go see if he's alright. Well done..”
Though the afternoon felt very ‘pre-seasonish’, there were one or two moments of genuine competition.
Fisayo Dele-Bashiru clattered an Alfreton player into the advertising hoardings not far from the sideline, a challenge that caused quite a crash and a great deal of pain for the player in question.
The young Wednesday midfielder wandered off until Smith intervened and congratulated him on a fair challenge.