Reinvigorated Sheffield Wednesday look a team transformed as Steve Bruce returns to management

Adam Reach went close to grabbing a late winner against Birmingham City
Adam Reach went close to grabbing a late winner against Birmingham City
0
Have your say

Spirit, teamwork, organisation, discipline, energy, passion and drive.

Sheffield Wednesday look a team transformed and completely unrecognisable from a few weeks ago.

Their enterprising, attacking performance against Birmingham City on New Year's Day should have yielded maximum points but it was another positive step in the right direction.

The shackles are off and the Owls' players are now performing with freedom and a sense of purpose. Established senior stars such as Keiren Westwood, Sam Hutchinson and George Boyd have returned to the first-team fold and made big impacts.

The smiles are back at Hillsborough after a fruitful festive and New Year period. After picking eight points from a tough run of fixtures against Preston North End, Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham, there is now optimism where before there was none.

Lee Bullen spearheaded the revival, playing an instrumental role in lifting the mood around the place as caretaker manager. New boss Steve Bruce has plenty to work with.

Adam Reach, the Wednesday midfielder, said: "He [Bullen] has not done anything special, but just made us aware that we are good players. He has brought some experienced lads back in and they have a bit more confidence as they had not been involved under the previous manager.

Comment: Why Steve Bruce looks a shrewd appointment for the Owls

"We have just told each other to get back to basics. Let's run, let's work hard and fight and I think the fans have seen that never-say-die attitude and that we are not going to give in. They have seen work rate, energy and effort has been there with some really good play.

"We played well, practically for the whole game (against Birmingham). We have not taken as many wins as we would want to, but if we continue to play like this with the new manager, we have a really good chance towards getting to the top end (half) of the league. We are quite far away from the play-offs at the minute, but there is always teams who have that late run and let's hope that it is us."

Bullen was denied a third win in his fourth match in charge since replacing Jos Luhukay thanks, in no small part, to an inspired goalkeeping display from Lee Camp. He made a string of superb stops to leave Wednesday frustrated.

But the Owls' finishing also left a lot to be desired as Che Adams' 48th minute strike cancelled out Steven Fletcher's first half opener.

"I thought we were excellent in the first half and deservedly took the lead," said Reach, who was passed fit to play after recovering from a hamstring problem. "We spoke in the dressing room about trying to kick on and get the second one and we just had a sloppy first ten minutes and conceded that goal at the start of the second half.

"Maybe, we went a little bit too direct too quickly. Sometimes, that can happen when you are desperately trying to score.

"The second half seemed to be one of those where we were a millimetre away from getting back in front. We were disappointed, but we are unbeaten again and now have a nice little break from the league in the FA Cup at the weekend and we are in a nice little place at the moment."

Thousands of Wednesdayites stayed behind after the final whistle to clap the team off following another encouraging showing.

"The fans reaction was good and worked well," said Reach. "We were so energetic in the first half in our closing down and getting chances and that is what the fans want.

"Sometimes, they can accept that the quality is not always there, but they want the endeavour and the hard work and I thought we put that in."