Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Give credit where it is due to defensive duo

Sheffield Wednesday defender Liam Palmer
Sheffield Wednesday defender Liam Palmer
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Liam Palmer and Morgan Fox often take a lot of flak any time criticism is dished out on social media after a bad Owls result.

Of course, there are other players in the Wednesday squad that have their critics. George Boyd, Almen Abdi, Marco Matias and Atdhe Nuhiu have also received a fair amount of stick at different points in their Owls careers.

Yet whenever things go against Wednesday, full-backs Palmer and Fox seem to be easy targets for the keyboard warriors. Their performances come under great scrutiny. They continue to divide opinion among the fanbase and that is unlikely to change any time soon.

Fox, particularly, has had a tough time in the 2018/19 season. The former Wales Under-21 international was sarcastically jeered by a section of the Owls faithful when subbed off in the Hillsborough loss to Derby County last November.

Fox's name was then booed by some supporters when read out over the PA system before kick-off against Preston North End in the first match after Jos Luhukay's sacking.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," said Fox. “The fans pay to come and see the games so they are entitled to do that. It is challenging (to play in that environment), but it is part of being a professional footballer."

I get that emotions ran high in the final few weeks of Luhukay's doomed reign. Does that excuse some Wednesdayites turning on Fox in this manner? Not for me. Booing a player before a ball has even been kicked is counter productive and not going to do a player’s confidence a lot of good.

Palmer and Fox appear to be frequently made scapegoats for the club's fluctuating fortunes. 

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Have they always played at a high level in the past 18 months? No, but not many individuals have in the Owls' ranks. Plenty of senior pros have struggled for consistency.

People question Palmer and Fox's positional play and end product in the final third. It is a valid point. There is no disputing there is room for improvement with their decision-making and final ball.

But if the pair had very few weaknesses in their game, they would not be plying their trade in the Championship. They would be playing every week in the Premier League.

Nonetheless, Palmer and Fox have acquitted themselves well in the post-Luhukay era, helping Wednesday record six clean sheets in the last 10 matches. Both have benefited from a long run in the team and playing as part of a settled back five.

Now the challenge for Palmer and Fox is to retain their places in the starting XI. New signings Dominic Iorfa and Achraf Lazaar have increased competition for places, meaning Palmer and Fox can ill-afford to drop their standards. 

You never know...Palmer and Fox may, in time, win over some of their doubters.