By Alan Biggs
Perspective is a great thing, often lost sight of and precious to cling to in times of trouble. Followers of Sheffield Wednesday might find a little in the fortunes of at least three of their remaining eight opponents this season.
There’s consolation in more ways than one, perhaps, in that the games with Sunderland, Hull and Reading stand out as the likeliest source of the points Wednesday need to completely insure against an unthinkable relegation from the Championship.
The decline of those three clubs shows that Hillsborough is not in isolation when it comes to a fall way below expectations. That is certainly not an apology or an excuse for a season that’s been mediocre at best, dreadful at worst. Nor is it of great comfort.
But it is a reminder of the cyclical nature of football that, for instance, two clubs who were in the Premier League only last season are in danger of falling through to the third tier.
Sunderland and Hull have been centres of strife off the field as well as on it during a time of freefall. For all the concerns of fans hereabouts, albeit many legitimate, Wednesday have remained relatively together as a club, boasting impressive support. That backing remains in the hope of a squad sort-out this summer and a go-again next season.
Consider also Reading who, having joined Wednesday as losers in last year’s play-offs, have again mirrored them across a desperately poor campaign. And factor in that I don’t think any of us have read or heard of any of these three strugglers enduring an injury crisis, certainly nothing on the scale of having ten first-teamers unfit for duty.
So this sort of season can happen, no matter what the size of club. Across three years under this regime, Wednesday are in credit for having a real go in two of them. That’s far from failure – PROVIDING key lessons are learned (to which this column has referred too often to repeat). And I think the Owls remain more together as a club than those other surprise strugglers cited here, all below Wednesday in the table.
There is a working basis to regroup regardless of financial fair play restrictions. It just takes a clear plan and good management at all levels.
But, of course, there’s no greater aid to perspective than finally winning a match – particularly one as big as a Yorkshire derby at Leeds. The impact of the return of key players was clearly evident as Sam Hutchinson and Barry Bannan both featured. And yet it was two-goal Atdhe Nuhiu who commanded the headlines. Rightly so.
I’ve always found it strange in a city forgiving of many things in a footballer, providing he shows good, honest toil, that Nuhiu has been mercilessly mauled by a minority. Last Saturday was a deserved payback for the majority who appreciate him as much as it was for the player himself.