Analysis: Garry Monk's Sheffield Wednesday revolution gathers ever more momentum after hard-earned Wigan Athletic win

As he continues to put the building blocks in piece by piece, Garry Monk's Sheffield Wednesday revolution is gathering pace.

Sunday, 6th October 2019, 06:00 am
Updated Sunday, 6th October 2019, 15:54 pm

Monk has guided the Owls to three wins from his five Championship matches since taking over as manager a month ago.

Saturday's hard-fought victory over a stubborn, spirited Wigan Athletic team nudged Wednesday up to eighth going into the two-week international break, a point off the play-off places and just three off leaders West Bromwich Albion.

It was far from a vintage performance. Indeed, there were times when the Owls looked off the pace and short on ideas.

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Yet they dug deep and found a way to get the job done.

"I didn't think it was a great game," said Wigan manager Paul Cook. "There were very few clear-cut chances. It was very bitty."

Cook's assessment was bang on.

The first half, in particular, was a bad spectacle. There was a distinct lack of quality on show from both sides.

Owls midfielder Massimo Luongo grabbed the winner against Wigan

Monk freshened up his midfield, handing first league starts to Joey Pelupessy and Massimo Luongo, and changed their formation from 4-4-2 to 4-1-4-1.

But although Barry Bannan struck the woodwork with a left foot piledriver from 20 yards, the Owls were largely devoid of creativity and struggled to get going as top-scorer Steven Fletcher cut an isolated figure in attack.

It was a dull, scrappy affair, with the biggest cheer from the home crowd coming when Fernando Forestieri did the half-time raffle.

Monk said: "I thought the back four were letting balls bounce and we weren't clearing our lines. We weren't doing the defensive side of it too well. We were not assertive enough."

Wednesday upped the tempo after the restart and showed greater purpose and urgency.

Special mention to Julian Börner for the part he played in the winner. The popular German centre-half, who has been a revelation since moving to English football, made a good interception before sprinting the length of the field to support the attack. His run off the ball helped create space in the middle for Luongo, who lashed in his first Owls goal after good work by Kadeem Harris and Adam Reach.

Wigan's form is wretched on their travels but they missed a glorious opportunity to take the lead in the first half after an almighty goalmouth scramble. First goalkeeper Keiren Westwood blocked Gavin Massey's shot before Börner charged down Jamal Lowe’s follow-up and then Massey fired narrowly wide when-placed. Börner celebrated Wednesday's lucky escape as if it was a goal.

The Owls were indebted again to Westwood midway through the second half when he produced a stunning save to tip former Barnsley man Kieffer Moore's header onto the crossbar. Few would argue Westwood is the best shot-stopper in the league and that he is worth a minimum of 10 points a season to Wednesday.

With 74 minutes on the clock, Fletcher was wrongly denied his sixth goal of the campaign by an offside flag. TV replays clearly show the big striker was onside when he fired home from inside the six-yard box after David Marshall had kept out Reach's initial effort. The goal should have stood and it was the second match in a row where the Owls have been on the wrong end of a poor decision from the match officials.

It did not matter in the final analysis as Wednesday held their nerve to claim an ugly win.

Several individuals caught the eye. Börner barely put a foot wrong at the back and his partnership with Dominic Iorfa is improving with every match. Pelupessy broke things up and screened the back four well while Luongo put in an industrious performance.

The Owls look in good shape and appear to be heading in the right direction, but Monk is keeping his feet firmly on the ground. He is adamant there is plenty of room for improvement, especially with their offensive play.

Nonetheless, Wednesday are well and truly part of a congested chasing pack after almost the first quarter of the season.

There was a lukewarm response to Monk's appointment as Owls boss, but he is winning his fight to turn the doubters into believers.