Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: What will take Steve Bruce time to develop at Hillsborough

Generous with his time and honest with his thoughts, Steve Bruce is an open, direct, straight-talking man.

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 11:16 am
Updated Thursday, 21st February 2019, 11:17 am

Although it is early days in Bruce's Owls reign, many Wednesdayites have quickly taken to him to their hearts. He is popular with the fans for the way he tells it like it is.

After their dramatic draw away to Rotherham United, Bruce said: "We have got away with one. I am not going to bullsh*t you. We made more mistakes today than in the previous three games.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce with Sam Hutchinson

"We have got a lot to do."

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Bruce is not wrong. He needs to shake things up. There is a big, dare I say massive, rebuilding job to be done at Hillsborough.

It was deeply alarming how Wednesday were outfought, outwitted and outplayed by Rotherham. As Bruce later pointed out, the result does not paper over the cracks. It was nowhere near good enough.

Loan wide man Rolando Aarons said: "It was good to get a point but the reality is we should be beating teams like Rotherham.

"We played into their hands. We could have kept the ball better and dominated the game possession wise but they made it into a physical game.

"I think we need to go back to playing the way that suits us."

Rotherham and Millwall have a few things in common. Both are struggling in the lower reaches of the second-tier and have a distinct style of play. Both like to get the ball forward quickly and look to put their opponents under pressure.

Can anyone tell me what is the Wednesday way? Nope, didn't think so.

Their ball retention has improved under Bruce but the team found it difficult, at times, to match Rotherham and Millwall's physicality. They lost far too many individual battles and did not earn the right to play.

During Jos Luhukay's ill-fated 11 month spell in charge of the Owls, he encouraged the side to play out from the back. Cameron Dawson was handed the No 1 jersey as Luhukay believed he was the best goalkeeper on their books with the ball at his feet and could instigate attacks. 

What Luhukay failed to do was lay solid foundations. He constantly tinkered with the starting XI. No partnerships were formed across the team. 

It was only after Lee Bullen took over on a caretaker basis that the Owls went back to basics and tightened up as a defensive unit.

The truth is Bruce has inherited an unbalanced, ageing squad short on pace in key areas. His task is to clear the decks in the summer and reshape the team in his image. It is critical the club get their recruitment drive right.

But there is, of course, no magic wand. Bruce deserves to be given time to develop a style of play to suit the players at his disposal.

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