Sheffield Wednesday are a League One club – so who’s to blame?

Sheffield Wednesday are a League One club after falling short in an attempt at Championship survival that ultimately only got so far because of failings at other clubs.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 6:25 pm

This was a weak division torn apart by a fixture schedule that left players and staff at most clubs limping to the finish line.

The postmortem has begun. Who is to blame?

Dejphon Chansiri

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Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri.

That Wednesday went down by fewer than six points is the simplistic proof to point to here, but the fact is, the handling of the club by Mr Chansiri has been a shambles for some time.

His hands-on running has seen the club fall into a decline that was sadly predictable from the moment rumblings about transfer embargoes and EFL sanctions kicked into gear.

It is his name above the door and for the points deduction, the sluggish structure behind the scenes, the panicked jumping from crisis to crisis, he has to shoulder blame.

Chansiri is now onto his sixth manager but appears taking the same advice from people stood in the shadows. Asked by The Star late last year why this was the case, he didn’t come up with much of an answer.

The club has become a source of embarrassment for supporters who deserve so much better, not so much on his watch given his inability to hand things over to visible public-facing football people, but rather by his doing.

No deflection on ‘negative supporters’, no whining at the EFL. He broke the rules, his gamble failed spectacularly and it is now up to him to learn lessons and change – quickly – or Sheffield Wednesday face a further descent into quicksand.

The managerial carousel

Would Wednesday have stayed up had they stood my Garry Monk? Who knows, that’s one for another day perhaps, but the fact is that not one of the four managers Wednesday have had this season are blameless.

Monk made big decisions and got busy trying to mould the club in a new image but failed, sacked in November not long after a horror week that saw defeats to Luton and fellow strugglers Wycombe and Rotherham.

He played a part in recruitment that hasn’t come off – more on that shortly – and after a positive start couldn’t arrest the slide that started midway through the season before.

Then came Tony Pulis, whose 10-match reign was an unmitigated disaster, a one-win nightmare in which the club’s playing style was disastrous and stripped away much of the enthusiasm that was left among supporters. He failed to click with the players and his methods were ill-suited to the squad. The less said about it, the better.

The work that Neil Thompson, Lee Bullen and co did in putting together Wednesday’s best run of the season was excellent.

Without it, the Owls’ drop would have been confirmed a long, long time ago and any hope they’ve had in recent weeks is largely down to them, though they ultimately ran out of steam and watched over a run of six defeats in seven.

And though given the bodies piled up before his arrival, overlooking his illness and the off-field nonsense he has had to deal with, Darren Moore didn’t manage to inspire the sort of ‘new manager bounce’ enjoyed by clubs elsewhere.

Ultimately, having to manage unpaid players, having to deal with the points deduction, having to step into an under-performing squad, it is one of the toughest jobs in English football.

And one man hired and fired them.

The players

There are internationals in this Sheffield Wednesday squad. There are players with Premier League experience. There are players of huge talent. And they’ve finished bottom of the Championship.

The stats have been trotted out too many times, but we’ll give it one more nudge. Points gained from a losing position this season.. One. On the last day. The evidence suggests if you take the lead against this Sheffield Wednesday side, you win the game.

Points dropped from winning positions this season.. 29. The evidence suggests if Sheffield Wednesday take the lead against you, you’re pretty likely to get something out of the game.

As a collective, this is a weak-minded set of footballers.

The mistakes – oh sweet lord the mistakes – have been too numerous to mention. To pinpoint a player or two would be cruel because at one time or another they have all had a go. Put to a Benny Hill soundtrack it would suddenly make a lot of sense, but it still wouldn’t be funny.

The old adage goes that if you give a group of footballers an excuse, sooner or later they’ll take it. And my word have they had excuses courtesy of those around them. With daggers drawn at various stages on the boardroom and on the dugout, they cruised from defeat to defeat.

After relegation to League One, not one of them fronted up to face questions from the media – and by proxy face up to supporters. After any defeat they seldom bother. That’s rare in football.

A spirited effort in a do-or die match on the last day or the season only served to spit in the eye even more. Had they shown that in half their matches, they’d have been safe.

The Independent Commission 1.0

One external shout-out. It has been decreed that the appropriate sanction for Wednesday’s stadium sale shambles is six points.

For months, throughout the transfer window, it was 12. Wednesday were approaching players as a club not bearing a two-game haul in a relegation battle, but one 12 points back and all but relegated from the get-go

Who could they have signed had it been six points from the start? We’ll never know. The easiest way to avoid that issue, of course, would be to not show a flagrant disregard for the rules in the first place.

What a mess.

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