Coming off the back of a fabulous result at Aston Villa I was hoping for us to use it as a spring board and kick on, put a run together and start climbing the table.
So after a two week international break I was looking forward to the visit of high-flying Bristol City and thought it would be somewhat of a barometer for us to see where we were at.
I thought we started quite brightly and it was easy to see that the visitors had done their homework and were happy for us to have the ball in our half. The half a chance created for Jordan Rhodes header in the first 15 minutes would most definitely have changed the game had it gone in but once Bristol City had got to grips with their roles we had no answer to them, unfortunately.
When I was asked to write this column my remit was really to try and give the opinion of an ex-player and possibly offer a different view point if there was one. Sometimes that hasn’t been easy because at the end of the day I am also a Sheffield Wednesday fan and along with that comes the frustration and emotion that we all feel as supporters.
After 25 to 30 minutes on Saturday my frustration was at a high as we played with such a lack of energy and direction that it beggared belief. It highlighted the negativity and lack of tempo that we have been accused of in the past but we also looked devoid of ideas on how to break down a team that had come to be solid in defence and try to nick a goal on the break. Any team that has watched us over the past year or so would see this as a decent game plan.
I disagree that Bristol just came for a draw because when they did get possession, especially in our final third and especially in the second half, they were creative and should really have gone ahead when Bobby Reid should have done far better with his free header from a cross. They set themselves up the way Reading had done last year and basically allowed us to have the ball in our own half and had two banks of four in their own half. This is designed to frustrate us and make it difficult to break them down.
We seemed intent on keeping possession in our half, playing sideways and backwards and when we then came under pressure resorted to lumping it forward. What I don’t understand is that when teams do this to us why we don’t keep our wide men really wide and make the pitch as big as we can instead of them being tucked in and narrow. This just condenses the middle of the park, which results in us being unable to play through it; hence we go backwards all the time.
Bannan ends up dropping deeper and deeper to get the ball and it has a knock on effect to the rest of the team. It was such a lacklustre, dreary performance that there was no surprise to me that there were some boos of discontent at the end of the game. I’ve grown up and been lucky enough to play in front of this crowd and if you have a go, give it your all then there aren’t many, if any, that complains.
The aftermath was a bit of a mystery to me too if I am honest. Carlos suggesting that the atmosphere wasn’t positive enough was baffling. Come on, lets get real, play with some passion, play with some tempo, go and get at teams with some width and most of all be brave on and off the ball and look to play in the opponents half at every opportunity. If you do this then I will bet my bottom dollar that the atmosphere will be exactly what you want it to be!
It was then onto the trip down to Ipswich which resulted in a 95th minute equaliser to draw 2-2. Having watched the game on TV it is sometimes difficult to pick up the atmosphere etc but did it look much different from Saturday? I don’t think so. Undoubtedly the positives that can be taken out of the game are that they never gave up and managed to salvage a draw with basically the last kick of the game, but that just papers over the cracks.
We apparently went 200 minutes without a shot on target which as a statistic speaks for itself really. We have loads of possession compared to the opposition but the majority of this is in our own half or in the middle of the park. Where has the creativity gone that we had a couple of years ago? Why is there this reluctance to play forward early or play with width and it seems that it is only when we get desperate that we throw caution to the wind and really have a go at teams. Strangely enough this is when we get men wide, put crosses from down the sides of the opponents box and tend to look far more dangerous than we have done.
I also thought that we were extremely fortunate with the referee and a couple of his decisions, which is something that has been highlighted as a bit of an excuse of late. First of all not sending off Glen Loovens after a few minutes for what was a really badly timed challenge was a proper get out of jail free card, and then the penalty that we were awarded, which I agree was a penalty but I also think that it was one that I’m sure Mick McCarthy would be upset about.
In conclusion I thought it was another lacklustre performance that resulted in yet another draw and doesn’t improve our position in the league at all. We are soon to be entering the busiest time of the season and I do wonder what it holds in store for us if we continue doing what we are doing. The frustration is that I know we can do better if we approach the game in the right way, we’ll see what the weekend brings...