Seeing red and a potential FA probe? – Heroes and Villains from Tony Pulis’ opening defeat as manager of Sheffield Wednesday
Tony Pulis’ tenure in charge of Sheffield Wednesday didn’t get off to the best of starts against Preston North End, with the Owls heading back to South Yorkshire still in the relegation zone.
Tom Barkhuizen’s goal was enough to hand Preston their first home win of the season – another case of Wednesday helping out a struggling opposition – and the 1-0 defeat at Deepdale meant that the Owls missed another chance to climb out of the Championship’s bottom three.
We took a look at some of the heroes and villains from Lancashire as Pulis was given plenty to think about ahead of next week’s trip to Swansea City.
Probably Wednesday’s performer on the day. In fact no, definitely their best performer. The German has looked like a man reborn in the past few games since being brought back into the setup prior to Garry Monk’s exit, and yesterday was no different.
Big JB looked more like the Börner of old – composed and assured in possession and committed in the challenge.
It’s great to see a player come back from the brink, as we’ve seen with Tom Lees as well to be fair, and rekindle some form. Pulis was pleased with him, too.
You would think that a no-nonsense centre back like Lees would benefit from a no-nonsense manager like Pulis, and on first look it seems like you’d be correct. The long-serving Wednesday defender has – as previously mentioned – got back his form over the last couple of months, and looks a lot more confident in his own abilities.
While Börner was probably more impressive against PNE, the former Wednesday captain didn’t put a foot wrong at any point at Deepdale, and continued to do this thing in terms of the basics of being a central defender. He seemed to have adapted well to playing the centre of a back three under Monk, but his mini-resurgence seemed to continue even when returning to a back four this weekend.
History suggests that a strong defensive line will be seen as a big part of Pulis’ plans if he’s to make a success of his time at Wednesday, and both he and Börner certainly put up their hands for regular starting berths going into a heavy schedule as 2020 comes to a close.
It was good to have him back, wasn’t it? He may have only played 60 minutes (the plan was always to take him off after an hour), but the Aussie just brings with him an air of calm, for me.
Luongo is one of those players where you probably notice him more when he’s gone than you do when he’s there, and there’s no doubt that he’s going to be a key component of any success that the new management has at Hillsborough.
It’s pleasing to see that he’s being eased back in by Pulis and that he wasn’t pushed too hard too soon, something that was acknowledged by the manager after the game.
He said, “We were concerned that if it was longer than 60 minutes then he might pull it again, and we don’t want to take that chance… I thought he did smashing, he did well in that spot.”
It was high, it was unnecessary, and it put Wednesday on the back foot early doors. There was zero malice in Windass’ challenge – he was only looking at the ball – but there was just no need for it, really.
When Pulis was asked about the incident, he said, “I haven’t seen it back yet. His foot was high, We are not going to get away with the appeal because they will say it was dangerous play.
“I spoke to Sky Sports and they thought it was harsh and should have been a yellow card but it’s the toss of a coin really.”
And that about sums it up, really. It’d be harsh to say Windass was a ‘villain’ because there was no intent, but the silly foul made things very difficult for the Owls.
It wasn’t a good look…
In the aftermath of the result at Deepdale, the most talked about issue has been something that happened between Fisher and Wednesday man, Callum Paterson. It’s an incident that will most likely be the subject of an FA probe to be honest, and the Preston man doesn’t come out of it looking great at all.
Fisher was seen grabbing the Scot’s genitals not once, but twice, at a corner in the second half, and you’d have to think that – with the video evidence especially – that the association will at least be putting in a call to the Wednesday forward and taking a further look into what happened.
When Pulis was asked about it, he told The Star, “You’re the first one who’s said that to me… I haven’t seen it, but if that’s the case then that’s the case.
"I’m sure with everybody on social media and all the places that people look now, he’ll be up in flames now if he’s done that."
In rugby earlier this year, England’s Joe Marler was banned for 10 weeks for a very similar incident against Wales, and that may well be considered by the FA even though it’s a different sporting code.
Next up for Wednesday is a trip to Swansea midweek, and Pulis will be desperate to pick up his first win since making the move to S6.