Sheffield Wednesday expects – Owls verging on ‘no excuses’ territory: Joe Crann’s column

Things happen in a football season, but with the work Darren Moore has done with Sheffield Wednesday we’re now verging on no excuses territory.

Thursday, 28th July 2022, 6:00 pm

I’m by no means saying that Wednesday should walk the league, or that they should breeze to promotion, but I do think they’re now in a situation where anything less than challenging for those top two spots would be a failure of a campaign.

Last summer was different.

There was drama, there were restrictions, players only started coming in late and many of them missed preseason altogether. There’s none of that this year.

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Moore has done excellent work on the recruitment front, and he’s done it early. Most of the new signings were through the door in time for the trip to Portugal, and every single one of them has got League One experience under their belt.

Top two was the aim last season, but there was a bedding-in period required, there was that ‘gelling’ process that we speak about, and it felt like an entirely new side. There was also that injury nightmare that – in all honesty – played a huge role in the way the campaign played out. Top six was the minimum for me last year, and that was achieved.

This time around it’s got to be about taking one step further.

Sheffield Wednesday ended the last season strongly before falling to Sunderland in the play-offs.

Wednesday aren’t the finished article just yet. In my opinion they still need a bit more pace and trickery in the side, a couple of players that can pick the lock when a door has been firmly bolted shut. But if the transfer window closed tonight, I’d still think we had enough to push for automatic promotion.

Moore’s work on and off the field has been tremendous – the club feels more together now than it has done in ages. The recruitment has been savvy, the football was fun to watch last season, and his work within the community has to be commended hugely.

But with all that comes expectation.

We’ve all seen the pundits, the social media accounts, the bookies odds… Sheffield Wednesday are up there with the favourites for the title this season. Not just promotion. A lot of people are expecting them to be lifting the League One trophy come next May.

That sort of expectation can weigh heavy, and now – as we approach the opening day – it’s up to the gaffer and his players to show that they’ve got what it takes to carry that weight.

As I said, things happen in a season… I’m not going to say here and now that it’s promotion or nothing for Wednesday in 2022/23, but as things stand now there is no doubt that this group of players should be there or thereabouts.

Being a Wednesdayite means that this ‘favourites’ tag sits uneasy with me... We’ve never made things easy, and I’m sure we ever will, but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this buoyant going into a league campaign – and I have to say, I like it.