Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: What Steve Bruce must do to turn around the Owls’ fortunes

There is a real lack of patience in modern football.

By Dom Howson
Thursday, 31st January 2019, 3:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st January 2019, 3:39 pm
Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce will take charge of his first match this weekend
Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce will take charge of his first match this weekend

Managers now do not get a lot of time to implement their ideas. Owners expect to see instant improvements on the pitch. A 'new manager bounce'.

And no doubt Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri will be hoping Steve Bruce can spearhead a late top-six push. 

Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce will take charge of his first match this weekend

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There is no arguing with Bruce's pedigree. He has four promotions to the Premier League on his CV and led Aston Villa to the Championship play-off final last year.

But people have to be realistic. Bruce does not have a magic wand to solve the Owls' problems. 

Wednesday are languishing in 17th position, 11 points above the relegation zone and 11 outside of the play-offs placings. They are an inconsistent, under-performing side. Unless there is a remarkable turnaround in the Owls' fortunes, a mid-table finish beckons.

Bruce has undoubtedly inherited a talented group of players but his task is to mould them into a team capable of challenging in the upper echelons of the division. It is a big job and not a quick fix.

Wednesday have an ageing, expensively-assembled squad that is unbalanced. The forward line remains top-heavy (Bruce will have SEVEN recognised forwards at his disposal when Jordan Rhodes returns from his loan spell at Norwich City in the summer) while their defence, which is one of the leakiest in the division, needs freshening up.

Sunday's FA Cup tie at Chelsea also underlined the Owls' lack of pace and dynamism in the wide areas. Wednesday struggled to penetrate and get in behind the Blues backline. Can Bruce tap into his contacts and add some much-needed speed and creativity to their attack?

It is clear Wednesday's bloated squad and wage bill must be trimmed in their ongoing battle to avoid falling foul of Profitability and Sustainability rules again. It will be at the end of the season when the major rebuild can begin as there is a raft of players out of contract, including Keiren Westwood, Gary Hooper, Kieran Lee, George Boyd, Marco Matias, David Jones and Almen Abdi. 

Hopefully Bruce will get the team playing an entertaining, expansive brand of football. Wednesday's style of play has not been particularly pleasing on the eye in the past two and a half years. If Bruce can get the Owls adopting an aggressive, front foot approach, he will immediately win the respect and trust of Wednesdayites.

Off the field issues ranging from high matchday ticket prices to the unpopular Club 1867 scheme has alienated sections of the fanbase. There is a growing disconnect between the club and the supporters. Given his experience and good people skills, Bruce can help repair that relationship and bring everybody together.