Dom Howson: What Sheffield Wednesday must do to lift spirits in 2020
Things can change in the blink of an eye in the Championship, just ask Sheffield Wednesday.
In a division defined by fine margins, the Owls have gone from third to seventh in the standings in under a fortnight after a truly rotten festive period.
Three defeats on the bounce has left Wednesday outside the play-off positions and their next Championship assignment is a daunting trip to title-chasing Leeds United. It is conceivable things could get worse before they get better.
Some boos reverberated around Hillsborough at the full-time whistle after their lacklustre New Year's Day showing to Hull City. It was a performance bereft of ideas, purpose and urgency.
Too many individuals were off the pace and their lack of quality in the final third was there for all to see.
Monk held a lengthy post-match inquest in the dressing room following their poor start to 2020. He was visibly angry and pulled no punches with his assessment of the team’s display.
“I’m not happy at all,” he said. “I think the over-riding feeling is that it’s been a poor week from us.
“If you go back to the two weeks before, there were a lot of positives and a lot of good stuff with results showing what we’re capable of.
“But then, within a week, three defeats. Of course that’s not good enough.
“I feel angry about that and disappointed and all the emotions that you would expect.
“We haven't done enough this week to get on the right side of those margins. There’s a lot of food for thought for me.
"As a collective, we need to respond and do it with actions. Actions speak a lot louder than words.”
The reality is there is no quick fix to the Owls’ problems. Some of their issues are deep-rooted. When Monk took over the reins in September, he inherited a bloated, ageing, unbalanced squad. Monk can’t change that overnight.
A big overhaul is required, but it will take Monk multiple transfer windows to put his stamp on the team.
Yet it seems Monk will be restricted to loans this month. Given Wednesday could potentially be hit with a heavy points deduction by the English Football League over the sale and leaseback of Hillsborough to owner Dejphon Chansiri, it is a sensible approach. There is no point splashing the cash until the EFL charge is resolved.
Nonetheless, a new face would help lift Monk’s troops after a disappointing, punishing schedule. Injecting some pace into the front line should be at the top of Monk’s priority list.
But the alarming thing is the flat atmosphere at Hillsborough. There is a negative vibe around the place.
Crowds are dwindling. Less than 25,000 watched the Owls’ Yorkshire derby with Hull.
Supporters are staying away and the lack of entertainment on the pitch in recent weeks has compounded the disenchantment originally caused by off-field issues. There is no buzz and gates will continue to drop unless they quickly address their slump in fortunes.