So, the hectic festive season is now well behind us, we are currently lying sixth in the table, we have just signed one of, if not, the most prolific strikers outside of the Premier League, and by our own admission we haven’t yet played the free-flowing attacking football that we saw at the back end of last season.
Not a bad place to be.
I hear rumblings of discontent from some supporters, both at matches and on social media and yet given the strength of the competition in the championship this year I think, back at the start, I’d have taken where we are now.
We are in an excellent position and I am sure there will be a real push until the end of the season. If we can rediscover the form that saw us get to the play-off final last year we will be there or thereabouts.
Anybody who watched the performance at Wigan last Friday, I am sure had a shade of disappointment with the team's overall performance. It wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination but three points were gained on what looked like a farmer;s field of a pitch.
I thought that Jordan Rhodes had a positive debut. His touch looked excellent, his willingness to chase down defenders and make a bad ball into a good one was very encouraging and I’m sure he’s going to take a couple of games to settle in and find his feet. Finding the back of the net in the next game or two will go a long way in doing this, as no matter how confident you are as a player, joining a new club with different players, some you may know, others you don’t, is a daunting task for anybody. I am sure he will have been pleased to get a couple of training sessions in before being thrown in at the deep end at Wigan but even so, it will take a little time to settle in.
People have asked me if I think it is a good signing and I would answer with this. I would imagine nearly every club in the Championship would have been delighted if Rhodes had joined their playing staff this transfer window. His record speaks for itself and since he has joined the club he has spoken about his affinity with Sheffield Wednesday and that can only be a further positive.
It seems that we now have an abundance of strikers at the club, some would argue too many, and I would probably tend to agree, but what I would say is that this is surely a negative side of the transfer window and all that surrounds it. Personally I think football was better off without it. The number, of what seem to be last minute ‘panic buys’ can’t be good for anyone, especially with the amounts of money now being spent. Clubs are never going to off load players until they know that a replacement has been secured. Now, I am not saying that the club was looking to off load any of the strikers, as I am not privy to their plans, but even if they were it soon became an impossibility with the last minute saga surrounding the Rhodes deal. In instances like this, it could possibly leave some players stuck at clubs until the summertime, unable to move whilst playing very little football and all because the ‘window’ has closed. I don’t think there is any other profession in the world that can have this negative effect on someone’s working career and personally, I don’t think it will be long until it is challenged legally, just like the infamous Bosman case did which changed the face of football for ever.
Yet again we play on Friday evening this week with Birmingham City coming to town. Television obviously dictates as to when and where matches are played and I can’t say that it really bothered me that much at the time. A 12 noon kick off on Sunday was probably the most impractical of them all, it’s a bizarre sight seeing lads sitting down to bowls of pasta for breakfast!
Birmingham produced a decent win at home to Fulham last week to halt an horrendous run of losses since the well documented appointment of Gianfranco Zola as manager. There will still be lots of uncertainty in the players minds and albeit was a good victory their confidence levels will still be pretty low. This is something that you must use to your advantage and a fast, high tempo start to the match is something I hope Carlos Carvalhal will be drumming into them before kick off. If they can start this way and get at Birmingham then surely they must avenge that last minute defeat from earlier in the season, a defeat that must still hurt as I thought they were good value for an away win with a few minutes to go.
Jon Newsome is the owner of prestige, sports and performance cars specialists, Automarques Unit 1, Old Barracks, Sheffield. S2 4EE