“I’ve got to let people find me..” Barry Bannan opens up on challenging new Sheffield Wednesday role

Barry Bannan has detailed the challenge of adapting to his new role at Sheffield Wednesday - and how studying some of the great Spanish sides is helping him achieve that.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The Owls skipper - the fulcrum of Wednesday’s play in recent years - has been stationed higher up the pitch under new manager Xisco and in a role he describes as much more disciplined both on and off the ball.

The entire squad are undertaking a voyage of discovery in what has been dubbed ‘Xisco Ball’, a more continental style of play that all have insisted will take time to instill, particularly given the Spanish boss’ late arrival to S6 this summer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Wednesday boss has described his players as ‘learner drivers’ at this stage of the process and has asked for patience among the fan base while his methods are dripped in to become second nature.

Wednesday played out a late 2-1 defeat to promotion favourites Southampton on Friday evening in a match that saw them have only 20% possession, with Bannan taking only 43 touches, a figure far less than he would usually enjoy, particularly at home.

The Scot is looking forward to the challenge of adapting to the job he is being asked to perform.

He told The Star: “It’s me having to realise I have to be more patient with us before I would get attracted to where the ball is and want to get onto the ball and make things happen.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This is more about staying in your position, being positionally strong and knowing that later on it’ll come to you.

“That’s the hardest part for me at the minute, trying to stay away from the ball and wait for it to come to me. Most of my career I’ve tried to get on the ball and make things happen, to now staying away from it will be hard.

“I’ve spoken to the gaffer at length. It has its strengths and obviously when I do get the ball, I’ll be in a better position to make things happen.

“I’m going to trust it and go with it because he’s trying to make me a better player, which will help the club as well.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s something I’m looking forward to, it can improve me and it’s something I want to give my all.”

Bannan is 33, though his form and influence in matches over the last few seasons has shown no sign of slowing down.

While there was no insinuation of a tiring body, it was put to him in a press conference that a reduced workload could stand to extend his playing career.

He made clear that he is simply setting about performing the role his manager is asking of him - and will continue resisting his ‘Roy of the Rovers’ instincts for what Xisco sees to be of benefit of the team.

Positional discipline, he reiterated, is key.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“At this moment in time I feel like I did five or six years ago,” he said. “I don’t think it’s down to ageing legs, it’s down to the way the manager wants to play and it’s his system. It’s the Spanish way of playing.

“I’ve spent time away studying it, watching Spanish teams and you don’t really see them leave their position.

“They trust the other players on the ball and trust them to get it the players who are going to hurt the teams.

“It’s his style and they way they want to play than a case of prolonging my career. If it happened to be that I had to play the same way I had for the last couple of years and I had one or two years left doing that, if it was going to benefit the club of course I’d do that.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He sees this as the best way for the club and for me, so I’ve got to give it a go and see where it takes me.”

The entire squad is navigating a different way of doing things under the new boss, with Friday night’s outing against a side littered with internationals, displaying a highly technical way of going about things both in and out of possession.

Wednesday had good moments in the game going forward and despite the landslide in possession given away to Southampton, spent large periods of the match reducing them to shots from outside the area. It’s a work in progress.

Alongside snappy and intense training sessions with the new coaching staff, Bannan has spent time away from the training ground studying videos of some of the great Spanish sides, drawing inspiration from past and modern greats.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The Spanish national team I’ve watched quite a lot,” he said. “Barcelona, Busquets and how pivotal he has been to the that Barcelona team.

“I’ve been watching people in my position, Gavi and Pedri, people like that. You don’t really see them roaming around and dropping in. They always seem to receive the ball in the same places and when they get it, that’s when they get to work.

“It’s just about being patient and trying to drum that into my head rather than always be where the ball is. I’ve got to realise I’ve got to let people find me, really.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.