Joe Crann – It’s too early to get carried away about Sheffield Wednesday, but…
As of tomorrow, that new slate that so many Sheffield Wednesday fans have been looking for starts to take shape. The wage bill goes down and Garry Monk has pretty much exactly what he’s looking for in terms of personnel. Is it too early to talk of a new dawn?
First of all, let me just say this – Sheffield Wednesday are unbeaten since I started my new job at The Star. I don’t want to take all the credit, but I’m pleased to be playing my part. Sheffield United haven’t won, either.
Jokes aside, the Wednesday that faced Nottingham Forest and Bristol City is lightyears away from the Wednesday that got pumped 5-0 away at Brenford a few months back, and there looks to have been plenty of progress made over the break that came about because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
I don’t think there are many teams that needed a break as much as the Owls did, to be honest. With confidence shot, niggles and injuries causing problems for key players, and Monk under increasing pressure, the time off gave them a chance to reflect, rethink and reassess the way forward.
Now, as they prepare to face West Bromwich Albion tomorrow, there will be no talk of contracts. The manager knows that the players he has are committed until at least the end of the season, and he says that he can already see a new culture, a new attitude, in those that he’s calling upon going forward. It’s encouraging.
The switch to 3-5-2 as a formation has helped. The fact that all the playing personnel are contracted has helped. The increased play availability and lack of injuries has helped. But Monk will no doubt be most pleased with the way that his players have applied themselves since the restart.
They look different. Fitter, more confident, more positive.
I’m pretty sure every Owl out there would have taken four points from games against Forest and Bristol before things got underway, and the fact that they probably deserved all six says a lot about where they’re at.
Early 2020 Wednesday don’t get that equaliser at Hillsborough a couple of weeks back, and early 2020 Wednesday may well have thrown away that 2-0 lead on Sunday. The players, and the manager, should take massive praise for the turnaround, they deserve it.
That will all change, of course, if things go badly against West Brom. And the biggest test for this team now will be how they react to a defeat and a bad performance, but with Kadeem Harris and Jacob Murphy speaking of positive and good energy at the moment, they seem to be in a place to deal with it.
The gaffer said he can’t make promises in football, but that he could promise a team that the fans would be proud of, a team that would be committed. And it’s only two games in, but I’d say they’re delivering on that so far.