Sheffield Wednesday: Five things new boss Garry Monk must address

Sunday will mark the start of Garry Monk's tenure as Owls manager.

Thursday, 12th September 2019, 11:16 am
Updated Thursday, 12th September 2019, 6:40 pm

Monk's side face local rivals Huddersfield Town in a televised clash at the John Smith's Stadium, kick-off noon.

Despite the team's stuttering start to the season, there remains an air of optimism around Hillsborough.

But here are five pressing things Monk must address:

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Owls star Steven Fletcher

1) Decide on Wednesday's best midfield

The Owls have constantly tweaked the personnel or shape in the midfield engine room. Having kicked off a busy August programme by playing three in the centre against Reading, Wednesday finished the month by fielding two in the middle of the park in Sam Hutchinson and Barry Bannan in their dismal defeat to Queens Park Rangers.

Yes, they were deprived of Bannan's services through injury at home to Barnsley, meaning Adam Reach was moved inside.

But Kieran Lee and summer recruit Massimo Luongo have been in and out of the side. In Luongo's case, he has yet to be given an extended run.

New Owls chief Garry Monk

Monk needs to quickly settle on his preferred midfield.

2) Get the best out of Adam Reach

We have seen in the last 18 to 24 months that Reach can do some serious damage at the top end of the pitch. His energy, drive, creativity and eye for goal has been invaluable to Wednesday's cause. Reach found the back of the net on nine occasions last term, establishing himself as an integral cog in the Owls machine.

But Reach's performances and form has been patchy this season. He has gone off the boil and struggled to get into a rhythm, having played in several positions.

Worryingly, Reach has gone 16 matches without a goal.

He insisted: "The goals will come; I have got no doubts about that."

Reach has plenty of confidence in his own ability. He is a big talent but Wednesday's supporters have not seen the best in him in a while.

3) Make Wednesday harder to break down

Although the Owls have recorded three clean sheets in their opening seven fixtures, that does not quite tell the whole story. They have looked far from convincing at the back and given away a number of soft goals.

Wednesday were undone by a set play at Millwall, conceded two soft, avoidable penalties at Preston North End and QPR exploited big gaps in between the defence and midfield before the first international break.

Should captain Tom Lees shake off a hamstring problem in time for the trip to Huddersfield, he is likely to return in defence and that would be a major boost. But regardless of whether Lees is available for selection, the Owls must tighten up as a collective unit, particularly on the road.

4) The forwards must step up to take the pressure off Steven Fletcher

Fletcher is the leader of Wednesday's attack, having notched three goals in six Championship starts. His intelligent hold up play and aerial prowess are key to the Owls' forward forays.

But Fletcher can't do it all on his own. He needs more help.

Kadeem Harris has done his bit since arriving on a free transfer from Cardiff City, weighing in with two goals from the wide areas.

Now the likes of Fernando Forestieri (after he has served his six-match ban), Sam Winnall, Jordan Rhodes and Atdhe Nuhiu need to pull their weight and ease some of the strain on Fletcher.

5) Bring in additional coaching staff

This is the first full week Monk has been in the job and he is leaning heavily on former interim manager Lee Bullen to get the lowdown on the strengths and weaknesses of his current squad.

But Wednesday remain down on numbers in terms of their first-team backroom staff, with Steve Bruce having taken Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence with him to Newcastle United.

Birmingham City coach James Beattie and performance analyst Ryan Needs have been heavily linked with moves to Hillsborough.