How the reaction of opposition managers proves Sheffield Wednesday are getting up the nose of Championship rivals
Settling into his first few weeks in the Hillsborough hotseat, Garry Monk’s priorities were simple, he said.
First on the itinerary was to build a more battling mentality, second was to shore up the defence. And in among all of this was the desire to build a new identity at Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.
He baulked at the idea of a ‘philosophy’, a phrase he believes has become a cheap ‘modern football’ buzzword used to cover a multitude of sins.
But Wednesday needed to change in order to fulfil their potential as genuine promotion contenders. And change they have.
You can tell this by the post-match reaction of Monk’s counterparts. One-by-one they have wandered through their post-match media duties, some more gracious than others.
A visibly emotional Nathan Jones, since sacked as Stoke boss, scowled while describing the Owls’ style of play as ‘very basic’.
Dutch playing legend Phillip Cocu, manager of Derby County, expressed his frustration at a Wednesday gameplan that was ‘direct’ and prevented his side from ‘playing football’.
And it’s a common theme. There’s often an undercurrent of frustration to opposition manager’s comments when discussing Garry Monk’s side.
It’s a game he dabbles in himself, making it clear pre-match that managers of both Leeds United and Nottingham Forest were ‘under pressure’ to beat his side, not to mention the Pep Clotet fracas.
No team in the Championship has committed more fouls than Sheffield Wednesday. No player has received more yellow cards than midfield enforcer Sam Hutchinson.
Not stats to be proud of by any means, but they begin to paint a picture. The league knows of Steven Fletcher’s attributes, they know of their aggressive, more direct style of play and they know that home or away, nobody gets an easy game against Garry Monk’s Sheffield Wednesday.
That much was admitted by Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi, who calmly described the Owls as one of the toughest teams to play against in the division.
To suggest fifth-placed Sheffield Wednesday are long-ball chancers – as Jones and Cocu seemed to – is wildly inaccurate. But what Garry Monk’s Sheffield Wednesday lack in tiki-taka they make up for in efficiency and determination.
They’re playing with a new identity.