Niggles, knocks and sleeping logs - Bring on the 'housery at Sheffield Wednesday
Bailey Peacock-Farrell was booked for taking his sweet time at a goal kick. Liam Palmer went down with an ‘injury’. Callum Paterson steamrollered a goalkeeper before playing sleeping logs in an attempt to avoid a yellow card.
It was, quite possibly, the finest display of ‘housery’ Sheffield Wednesday have produced in some time. And that’s before you mention Josh Windass’ tongue-in-cheek social media suggestion that a statue in his image should be built outside the DW Stadium.
Wednesday, so often a soft touch for so many years, are managed by the man they call the nicest man in football. The dark arts in that case, you might suggest, are for others to explore.
That suggestion died a death at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday evening as the Owls dialled up the devilish just enough.
It was there from the start – seemingly emanating from the side-smile smirk of a man called Paterson – but as time went on it came to the fore. After Wigan’s avoidable penalty was put away by prince of the dark arts Charlie Wyke, Wednesday slowed things up and, though there were one or two hairy moments, clawed their way to a vital three points.
There’s a fine line of course between the themes discussed here and a crossover into any notion of thuggishness and its important to say Wednesday were nowhere near the latter.
But they were clever in a few moments throughout that match we haven’t really seen enough of in recent seasons; earning fouls, controlling the tempo by slowing things down at set pieces and breaking up play by fouling players in not-yet-dangerous positions.
Garry Monk tried it and indeed spoke about it – remember when he messed about with the changing room electrics for the visit of Hull City? – but the feeling was that he was handling a squad of players too nice or too disinterested to pack a punch.
Now? This is a new set of players and the colour of their collective character is a matter yet to be picked away at.
But there have been signs, despite the woes of pre-Wigan September, that they’re up for a bit of the niggle. The teams that do it well are usually very good sides.
Let the devil flow through them, perhaps. Just a touch.