Sam Hutchinson opens up on his form, Steve Bruce and Sheffield Wednesday’s style of play

The style of play has changed, the shackles have been thrown off and the team are in the thick of the promotion battle heading into the business end of the season.

By Dom Howson
Thursday, 4th April 2019, 1:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 1:59 pm
Owls midfielder Sam Hutchinson
Owls midfielder Sam Hutchinson

Sheffield Wednesday are one of the form teams in the Championship and they still have an outside chance of securing a play-off spot with seven fixtures left to play.

Confidence has soared following a run of just one defeat in 17 league outings. Their superb level of consistency means Steve Bruce's men trail sixth-placed Aston Villa, who they welcome to Hillsborough on Saturday, by just four points.

Owls midfielder Sam Hutchinson

Sign up to our Sheffield Wednesday newsletter

But uncompromising midfielder Sam Hutchinson is adamant that there is still plenty more to come from him and the team.

He told The Star: "I still think there is loads to improve on but, on a personal level, I don't think I am nowhere near the level I can get to.

"I am sort of playing in a different role and, as a team, we played Stoke (last week) and got a great result away from home because they are a very good side but there is so much more we can give and that is a good thing.

"I say that as a positive because we have gone 11 games unbeaten and we have given ourselves a chance.

"We are going through a transition. We are doing a lot of work on the training pitch. We are getting fitter as a team and it is hard work.

"They (the management team) want us to play in a different way and they want us to be fitter.

"I think you will see the team evolve more and more the longer the gaffer is here and he implements his style of play and what he wants to do."

Hutchinson, renowned for his combative qualities and ability to break up play, is enjoying his new role in the middle of the park alongside Barry Bannan.

Previous managers have tasked Hutchinson with the job of playing in front of the back four as a defensive midfielder and adding an extra layer of protection to the backline.

But Bruce has encouraged Hutchinson to work a little differently.

On his role, Hutchinson said: "It has changed completely. I was that holding midfielder and I would fill in positions of other people whereas now we are playing two in midfield and we are pressing and I am further up the pitch.

"I have almost got a license to get in the box like against Sheffield United when I should have scored, which would have been a nice moment.

"It is like the shackles have been taken off me so I can do a little bit more."

By his own admission, the 29-year-old is still growing into the role and reckons he has yet to hit top form.

"Because I have missed so much of the season, it is difficult to come into a season even though I feel more fresh," said Hutchinson, who was frozen out under ex-boss Jos Luhukay. "I just feel there are more levels for me.

"I am still not happy with the way I am playing if I am honest. There is something not clicking at the moment.

"I know it is going to click. It is just when it clicks. I think I have done well in certain games but I think I can do more."

Hutchinson is enjoying Bruce's methods, saying: "He has played me so obviously I'm going to say I love working with him! He wants everyone on the front foot and to press. He wants us to play but I don't think we have played that much recently.

"It is a process. We are doing one thing at a time.

"It needs to come because we are good enough to do it but we are learning to press and to play. It is a long process but we should be playing a lot more than we are."

The Owls will be out to keep their play-off hopes alive by defeating Villa this weekend. It will be the first time Bruce has faced his former club since he was sacked last October. He was replaced by ex-Owls player Dean Smith.

While Wednesday are unbeaten in 11 since Bruce took over, Villa have won five on the bounce.

Hutchinson said: "I can't wait for it. It is Steve Bruce's old team.

"JT (John Terry) is there who I know and there are a couple of other people who I have played with.

"Aston Villa are a massive club. No matter what league they are in, they have got a great fan-base as do we so it is always a good game when they come to Hillsborough."