An age-old tale of slugglish play and points dropped against teams that Sheffield Wednesday should really be beating.
Here are nine talking points from the Owls’ 1-1 draw at Burton Albion...
CARVALHAL’S ASSESSMENT WRONG
The Owls head coach said after Saturday’s game, “I thought we deserved more than what we achieved today and we did enough to win the game.” From my point of view, they didn’t. Carvalhal felt that Burton scored when Wednesday were in control but the goal the visitors converted in the 36th minute came against the run of play and had Marvin Sordell been as potent with his finishing as he was in taking out Keiren Westwood (more on that later), Wednesday would have been well behind before Gary Hooper’s lovely finish. With Carvalhal’s side prone to lapses at the back, they are never really fully in control when it’s just 1-0 and three shots on target, according to the stats, in the entire game is nowhere near good enough. They may have had more of the ball but besides a brief flurry that saw a shot cleared off the line and the woodwork struck, Wednesday didn’t really look like scoring again. This was an average (at best) performance by, on paper, a good team, against an average hard-working team who are better than the sum of their parts. Again...not good enough.
IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY
This team hasn’t changed much in a year, in fact it’s barely changed in two years. So why, then, has the team not started as well as it should? With a settled squad and only George Boyd to bed in - plus Frederico Venancio who has yet to play - there are no excuses for Wednesday not having hit the ground running. Had there been a host of new faces coming in, you would give them the benefit of the doubt as it can take a while for some to settle into new surroundings, but that’s not the case. Maybe it’s just a little bit too comfortable and they needed more new players than we originally thought.
BOYD LOOKS A LITTLE LOST
Speaking of George Boyd, we are yet to really see what he can bring to the team. There’s no doubting his workrate and we were all told that this would be his biggest asset but energy and enthusiasm is one thing, actually making a valuable attacking contribution is another and that aspect hasn’t been evident as yet. It’s early days though and he’s probably trying to come to terms with a different style of play than he’s used to, but on the flip side, he’s an experienced operator at this level and it shouldn’t take him long.
ANY CHANCE OF GETTING A MOVE ON?
Wednesday fans wouldn’t feel quite so frustrated watching their team if there was a bit of urgency about them. Supporters were crying out for someone to get their head down and take players on, move the ball up the pitch quicker, make something happen...something...anything! There were no risks being taken, no change in approach and very little idea about how to break Burton down. The fact that the goal came from a very quick break, direct passing with intent, a great first-time cross and a beautiful piece of intuition is all the more annoying, because it shows what they can do. With that in mind, if there are to be players brought in this week, try and get someone with a bit of pace to shake up this laboured, at times one-dimensional team.
PASSING UP FORESTIERI SPEAKS VOLUMES
If Wednesday had something in their armoury capable of blowing a hole in the Burton rearguard it was sat on the bench, and remained there all day. Fernando Forestieri, for all anyone thinks of him, is a player who can add a little bit of magic when needed. Yes, he probably tries too much to the detriment of the team at times, but if he, when the team is looking for a goal, attempts five little tricks or movements with the ball and one of them comes off then it will have been worth it. As it was, Forestieri wasn’t called upon and you have to wonder why? Again, the forward has been linked in the Sunday papers with a move away from Hillsborough. It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that there’s a real chance he might not be here by the end of the week. Time will tell.
RIGHT TO START WITH RHODES ON THE BENCH
One decision I felt Carvalhal definitely got right on Saturday was sticking with the team that beat Fulham and that included keeping Jordan Rhodes on the bench. He may have scored twice on Tuesday against Bolton but that doesn’t mean that he should walk into the team. One swallow and all that. There has been nothing to suggest so far that he and Gary Hooper can forge a partnership up front like Fletcher has and, at present, Hooper as arguably the Owls’ best outfield player, has to start. Carvalhal was, in my view, unfairly criticised on social media by some fans for dropping Rhodes. The same people would have probably complained if Fletcher had been given the boot. While at times he doesn’t help himself (see above) other times, he can’t win.
HOW WAS THAT NOT A RED CARD?
Onto actual match incidents and that challenge, if you can call it that, by Marvin Sordell on Westwood was a shocker. He was very late, he was very high and as the keeper himself tweeted on Saturday night, “think I’m lucky I ride the challenge. Would hate to think what might have happened.” Sordell’s reaction immediately afterwards was one of a player who knew he was very much in the wrong. Just as bad as the tackle itself, was the fact that the referee was right in front of it and his assistant not far off and neither of them saw that this was punishable by a card, even a yellow never mind red.
HOOPER’S JUST SUPER
Some positives to finish. Gary Hooper was superb on Saturday and his goal was more than deserved. One of the best things about the Pirelli Stadium is that we in the press box are so close to the action so we were able to see clearly what Hooper brings to the team. The way he holds up the play, fending off defenders is masterful and that cheeky finish was just stunning.
FAIR PLAY TO FOX
It was wondered if Morgan Fox would manage to break into the team any time soon and though injuries to other players and a lack of defensive options left Carvalhal with little choice, the left back hasn’t put a foot wrong in the past two games. He looks a little braver than he did last season, throwing himself into tackles and blocks yet still providing some neat play on the flanks.