THERE IS more than one way to skin a cat - or maybe a Terrier as well.
That is a message that Dave Jones is conveying to his Wednesday forwards as they prepare to face Huddersfield at Hillsborough tonight.
The Owls manager feels that his team must learn different ways of beating opposing teams.
He is turning his attention to his team’s forward play - another area of the their game that he would lke to improve, though the need to reduce defensive errors has been a bigger priority and has been more under the spotlight during the last week.
Jones accepts that men such as Spanish striker Rodri and wingers Jermaine Johnson and Michail Antonio have sometimes found the going hard in the away defeats against Crystal Palace and Brighton.
Tonight’s game against the Terriers offers a chance for Wednesday to regain winning form after their 17-match unbeaten run under Jones.
“Rodri is 20-odd years of age; he’s come to a foreign country and had such a good start; then all of a sudden things haven’t gone as well for him,” said the Hillsborough boss.
“The opposition might be man-marking him. He’s got to figure out how to get those shackles off. JJ and Michail: they have to look at different ways of performing when people shut down avenues. That’s what good players do; they need to learn from it and look for a different avenue to go down. But it’s not so much about attacking at the moment - we’re conceding too many goals.”
However, Jones admits that he feels Johnson is one of the players who have not been at their best in recent games.
The winger has been an erratic character in the eyes of previous managers. But he made a flying start to this season.
Jones reflects: “I’ve found JJ to be ok. At the moment he’s not delivering what he was delivering in the first few games. But that can apply to everybody here.
“It’s such a fine line between success and failure. When it was 1-0 at Brighton, their keeper made a good save [from Ross Barkley]; if we get back on level terms at that stage, who knows?
“What we have to do is cut out the basic errors.
“Other teams have done the long ball down the middle or down the sides, or we haven’t got a tackle in, in the box, but no team has really carved us up. We’ve just not been the right positions or made basic errors.
“We’ve had a lot of changes; people are getting used to each other; it could be a lack of communication; it could be lots of tiny things; you have to sift your way through them.”
Although broadly he agrees with the old adage that you attack as a team and defend as a team, as a former top-flight defender himself he thinks that defenders need to accept a large share of the responsibility when goals are going in.
“With the goals we have been conceding, the back four have to take responsibility somewhere along the line and say ‘this is us.’ In the old-fashioned way I was brought up, if you’re a defender you defend, and you make sure the people around you do exactly the same.
“It could be that we’re too friendly with each other at the moment. They’re a great bunch to work with, but maybe we need to be harder on each other. A lot of the players have played higher or at this level. Some of them have forgotten how to play at this level. I would expect some of the players to have done well at this level. Now they’ve got to step up again.
Jones is frustrated by what he sees as inconistency: “We get caught out in positions because maybe we’re too attack-minded. Maybe we’re trying to go forward too soon. Big players, good teams, will pick you off. When we played Fulham and Birmingham we didn’t get pulled about. Maybe, and I say maybe, we’ve got a bit of cockiness because everything was going well and you think you’ve arrived. Then all of a sudden we’ve got our faces slapped.
“But you have to remember what we we’ve been doing well.”
Jones believes the Owls have come a long way in a short time and are still bedding down as a new team.
Teams and ref
OWLS (possible): Kirkland, Mattock, Taylor, Llera, Beevers, Antonio, Semedo, Barkley, J Johnson, Rodri, Bothroyd. (4-4-2).
terriers (possible): Smithies, Hunt, Clarke, Lynch, Dixon; Clayton, Southern, Norwood; Hammill, Vaughan, Ward. (4-3-3).
GRAHAM SALISBURY (Lancs): Players may have to watch their step: Salisbury has issued 21 bookings in five games this season, and last season his tally was five red cards and 111 yellows in 37 matches.