Ex-winger defends Owls style of play

Craft: Ben Marshall is poised to return for the Owls at Oldham.      Picture: Steve ellis
Craft: Ben Marshall is poised to return for the Owls at Oldham. Picture: Steve ellis
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FOOTBALLER-turned pundit Chris Waddle has launched a staunch defence of Sheffield Wednesday’s direct brand of football, insisting: “You have to play with what you’ve got.”

A large proportion of the Owls’ goals in the 2011/12 campaign have come from set pieces.

Defences in League One have struggled to cope with the dead ball tactics Wednesday have adopted, with the promotion contenders scoring a plethora of goals from free-kicks, corners and long-throw ins. Indeed, centre backs Reda Johnson and Rob Jones have both chipped in with three goals apiece which have come as a result of set plays.

Some detractors have condemned Wednesday’s style of play since Megson took over as boss in February, arguing it is not the most pleasing on the eye.

But ex-England international and Owls wing merchant Waddle, a regular commentator for ESPN, refuses to criticise his old club’s approach.

“Gary [Megson] plays in a certain way,” Waddle told The Star. “It is different from how we played; our belief was to get the ball down but you have got to play with what you’ve got.

“Wednesday have got a team who are big, strong, well organised, physically good and get balls into the box at every available opportunity.

“They are a big, big side who are very good at set pieces. Set plays are effective in any league. Stoke use them to their advantage in the Premier League. They have two good wingers but they play direct. Bolton still do it. Stevenage are direct. You can’t play like Barcelona if you haven’t got those type of players.”

Ben Marshall is poised to return to the starting line-up at Oldham Athletic this weekend. The winger has been instrumental in Wednesday’s surge up the table and Waddle believes it would be a major coup to the Hillsborough outfit if they could hang on to the Stoke player until the end of the season. Marshall is due to leave in January.

“Marshall gives them a little bit of craft in the final third,” said Waddle. “It would be a big boost to keep him longer.”