Problems mount for Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk after Barnsley stalemate

Sometimes the truth hurts.

Sunday, 9th February 2020, 2:03 pm
Updated Sunday, 9th February 2020, 2:33 pm
Barnsley goalkeeper Brad Collins collects under the challenge of Owls Josh Windass. Pic Steve Ellis

Barnsley boss Gerhard Struber described Sheffield Wednesday as a "good team, but not a magic team" prior to their South Yorkshire derby meeting at Oakwell.

The league table does not lie and the Owls have dropped off the promotion pace after winning just one of their last eight Championship outings.

Wednesday, without a league victory since early January, have looked worryingly short of confidence and belief since Christmas. Too many players are struggling for consistency and form. Some individuals are living off past glories.

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Six points and only five places may stand between the Owls and the top six positions but the harsh reality is Garry Monk's troops are going backwards and heading for mid-table mediocrity unless there is a dramatic upturn in their results.

Worse still, there is a possibility the English Football League could yet hit Wednesday with a big points deduction over their controversial sale and leaseback of Hillsborough and plunge the club into a relegation scrap.

Things could get worse before they get better.

And there is no magic formula to solve the Owls' problems. No quick fix.

There is a major rebuilding job to be done and Monk has his work cut out to address their shortcomings. This squad has become too stale and too comfortable. A big summer shake-up is desperately needed to freshen things up.

But it is Monk's job in the short term to get more out of the players at his disposal, both individually and collectively. Their performances in recent weeks have been nowhere near of the standard required to challenge in the upper echelons of the division.

Nearly 5,000 Wednesdayites packed into the away end but Monk's troops gave their travelling fans little to shout about in a turgid opening 45 minutes. New recruit Josh Windass, on loan from Wigan Athletic until the end of the season, scored with their only shot at goal.

Monk, perhaps feeling the heat after their alarming dip in form, fielded Windass, Connor Wickham, Alessio Da Cruz and Fernando Forestieri in an exciting, much-changed line-up.

Yet despite that array of attacking talent, Wednesday were second best for long periods after Cauley Woodrow's 24th minute equaliser.

Cameron Dawson has been heavily criticised for his shocking clearance that allowed Woodrow to fire into an empty net from 35 yards to restore parity. It was a bad, costly mistake and gave the Reds a foothold in the contest.

But the visitors were outfought and outplayed in midfield. Barry Bannan struggled to impose himself, Joey Pelupessy was off the pace, Da Cruz flitted in and out of the game on the right and Forestieri improved after a slow start.

No creativity. No spark. No cohesion.

A significant proportion of Wednesday fans greeted the final whistle with boos. Their frustration was entirely justified after the Owls had made Barnsley look a much better side than they actually are.

It is now a remarkable 20 points dropped from winning positions this season as the problems keep mounting up for Monk.