What has been key to Sheffield Wednesday’s revival under Steve Bruce

Spirit, determination and togetherness has been at the heart of Sheffield Wednesday's renaissance this calendar year.

By dom.howson1
Sunday, 21 April, 2019, 08:00

What the Owls class of 2019 lack in terms of quality at times they make up for in sheer hard work.

And if any match epitomised the Owls' character, it was their Good Friday draw at Norwich City.

It would have been easy for Steve Bruce's men to throw the towel in after they lost star man Keiren Westwood in the warm-up due to injury and went behind to Marco Stiepermann's 19th minute strike.

But Wednesday demonstrated once again their battling qualities, coming from a goal down to secure a point.

Loan star Michael Hector told The Star: "The group of players we have in the dressing room fight for each other.

"We were disappointed not to win the game against Norwich but there were a lot of positives we could take from it.

"We showed a lot of character. They got an early goal, were baying for blood and thought they were going to run riot.

"We kept fighting and plugging away. If someone made a mistake, someone else was there to pick them straight back up and that showed the character of the players."

"We stayed in the game and created the better chances. Their goalkeeper made a few unbelievable saves. We could have had another couple of goals but that’s football so now we move on.

Fernando Forrestieri celebrates his first half goal at Norwich with Sam Hutchinson

Bruce's troops went toe-to-toe with the Canaries and restored parity through Fernando Forestieri's spectacular long range effort. Forestieri's 30 yard goal of the season contender flew past Tim Krul into the top-left corner.

The former Italian Under-21 international was a constant menace throughout the evening, producing arguably his best performance in Owls colours in over 12 months.

"After the goal, he was very special," conceded Hector. “He grew and grew into the game and he is special when he plays like that.

"There are not too many defences who can live with a Fernando in that kind of form. The quality and vision he has makes him unplayable."

Joey Pelupessy gets away from Norwich City's Jamal Lewis......Pic Steve Ellis

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Wednesday were denied maximum points when Mario Vrancic curled in a delightful free kick deep into added on time.

Substitute Vrancic was adjudged to have been brought down just outside the penalty area by Marco Matias. Referee Geoff Eltringham's decision to award a free left Bruce and his coaching staff incensed.

Hector, on loan from Chelsea until the end of the campaign, said: “I don’t think it was a free kick but he (Vrancic) was clever and bought the foul.

"Fair play to him for scoring a free kick in the last minute. He took it himself and it takes good technique and class to put it in.

“Fair play to Norwich as they kept going right to the last minute and got something from the game when we thought we should have won."

Bruce was also left fuming that Vrancic's equaliser came in the seventh minute of added on time after only five minutes additional time had been indicated by the fourth official.

"Norwich got out of jail," he said. "The referee has not done his job properly.

"It was cruel on the players. It would have been a great victory for us against the possible champions."

On the time added on, Hector said: "I haven't got a clue. You would have to ask the referee.

"But that's football. I thought we defended really well and weathered the storm.

"I don't think Norwich had many clear-cut chances.

"For us, there were a lot of positives we could take. I thought we controlled the game. They had a lot of possession but we felt comfortable.

"Norwich are the best team in the league and we caused them all sorts of problems."

There is no disputing the fact that Bruce has worked wonders in turning around Wednesday's fortunes. The Owls have lost just two of his 15 matches in charge. With three games left to play, Wednesday are on course for a top-10 finish.

Given the Owls were languishing in the lower reaches of the table around Christmas, that would be no mean feat.

Bruce, whose team host seventh-placed Bristol City on Easter Monday, said: "The players have been terrific. They have character in abundance. Since I have walked through the door, they have rolled up their sleeves and had a go.

"We have had a hell of a run. We were well beaten last week at Leeds. We should have beaten Villa. We had a wonderful opportunity (to get into the play-offs).

"We are where we are. I have been delighted with the attitude of everybody. We have only been here three months but there has been a turnaround which is always decent. But there is still a lot of work to be done."