Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Owls campaign is on a knife-edge

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As the half-way point in the Championship season approaches, the table makes bleak reading for the Owls.

Despite a draw-laden seven-match unbeaten streak, Wednesday have fallen to 12th in the rankings. Eight points separate them from the play-offs. If results don’t go their way over the next 24 hours or so, Carlos Carvalhal’s charges could find themselves 11 points adrift of the top-six before their televised duel at Norwich City tomorrow night.

Head coach Carlos Carvalhal

Head coach Carlos Carvalhal

The Owls’ campaign is on a knife-edge.

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The team are not in a false position. They have been consistently inconsistent and are where they deserve to be.

If you had to select a shortlist right now for the player of the season award, there are only two genuine candidates; Barry Bannan and Gary Hooper. So many individuals have struggled to hit the heights they have produced in the two previous seasons.

It is true Wednesday have been on the wrong end of some awful refereeing decisions this season and a number of key players are sidelined by injuries.

However, that can’t excuse a string of wretched performances. This expensively-assembled squad packed full of big names and players boasting international pedigree ought to be able to rise above any problems and continue churning out results.

Their first half showing last Saturday against a woeful Hull City side was nothing short of embarrassing. No shots on target (again). No pace. No creativity.

Jon Newsome, writing in his Owls column, said: “The dreary, pedestrian first half typified what the majority of supporters are complaining about. When we had a go in the second half and played with some urgency and desperation then all of a sudden the crowd are on their feet and the atmosphere is exactly what it should be.”

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The natives are getting increasingly restless at Hillsborough. The fans know what this side is truly capable of but the trouble is they only seen their quality in dribs and drabs.

Somehow Carvalhal must generate some upward momentum. What Wednesday desperately need is to string a winning sequence together. For a start, I think they require a minimum of three victories from the next five matches to get themselves back into the top-six mix.

And over the years we have seen how quickly things can turn around in the second-tier.

As Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce pointed out only this week: “The Championship throws up strange results. We see it every week.”

It is an unpredictable division but the Owls have left themselves with little margin for error in the second half of the season. If they have a big wobble, they will be cast adrift and their promotion dream will be over for another year. It is now or never.

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