Barry Bannan: Sheffield Wednesday mustn't repeat contract chaos - admits exit chance and player stress

A repeated silence around the futures of Sheffield Wednesday’s vast soon to be out-of-contract cohort is one that the club must learn from going forward.
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That’s the view to club captain Barry Bannan, who in an honest and open press conference admitted he has had no personal indication of whether his time at the club could be coming to an end and that the last six games of the campaign could prove to be his last as a Wednesday player.

While he maintains his own focus on achieving Championship survival has remained steadfast, he admitted the uncertainty hanging over such a large portion of the dressing room has made his role as captain difficult in recent weeks and that some individuals are potentially playing with ‘unneeded stress’ heading into a crucial few weeks for the club.

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Including loan players, The Star understands that at least 18 senior players are coming to the end of their current deals with Wednesday in what strikes as a repeat of last season, when 11 first team regulars were in a similar position.

“I've not heard anything, as is the case with however many are out of contract,” Bannan said. “It's just a case of knuckling down for the next six games and what will be will be. It's not a nice situation, but I think as a club it's probably something going forward that we learn from. It's happened the last few seasons now and it's not a good situation.

“We had a talk after the Huddersfield game and that was one of the topics I brought up. It's a case of not being selfish and instead thinking about the club, putting the club first. If you can get the club safe then negotiation power at the end of the season whether that's here or somewhere else will be a lot stronger.

“Listen, we're humans. People are different. It will probably be playing a part. So as we go forward as a club we need to make sure this situation doesn't come around again.

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“It's about having a bit of clarity for players going forward. I don't think at a club this should happen. It's not a great situation. If people's futures were clearer then it's a lot easier for them, but like I said, you've got to put the club first at this period of time. The club is paying your wages so you need to go out and fight until your contract is over and what will be will be.”

Having previously outlined February as the month in which he had hoped to press on with new contract negotiations, Owls boss Danny Röhl told The Star earlier last week that a ‘key point’ hanging over decisions was the uncertainty over what division the club will be playing in next season. Two ‘shadow squads’ are being prepared behind the scenes for either eventuality, he said, while imploring all involved with the club to focus-in on survival and the achievement of a ‘big, big goal’.

Questions were asked of the impact of uncertainty of so many player futures at Wednesday during a run of one win in seven matches this time last year that essentially cost the club automatic promotion in a historic League One title scrap. From a captain’s standpoint, not knowing the mental state of players who are unsure whether or not their families will have to move on in the coming months makes things difficult, Bannan suggested.

Bannan said: “It puts me in a position and that's why I'm saying we need to address the situation because it was the same last year with so many out-of-contract players. We dipped off at the end of last season as well. For me to then go screaming and shouting, it's hard. People deal with things differently. I can only speak on it from my own point of view.

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“I'm an individual who doesn't change (how he plays). I can't go out there and be half-hearted, I want to win and I'll do everything I can to win. I won't let anything get in the way of that, whether it's contracts running down or whatever. I won't let my head sway whether it's out on the training pitch and being the best player on the day or on the football pitch. I want to win and be the best player.

“But every individual is different. It's difficult to start demanding because you don't know how people are dealing with it. It's stress and it's unneeded stress for those individuals.

“It's hard. I'm in that situation, but me as an individual might be completely different to how the other people in the changing room are acting with it. I can only speak on me personally. I'm the captain of this club and it puts me in a position. If I'm trying to scream and shout and ask things of these individuals, I don't know what they're thinking inside. It's hard for me because I can only go off me.

“I'm here until the end of the season, I'm getting paid by the club, I've been here nine years so maybe this club is a bit closer to me than certain individuals as well. I don't want to get relegated. I have such a strong feeling for the club.

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“I'm coming towards the end of my career, so what will be will be for me now. I'm just fighting to keep this club in the league now. But there are young people in there that have got a good few years left and they're not knowing where they're going to be, they've got families, kids at school. It's hard for them.”

As for Bannan’s own future? Röhl said in February he was ‘convinced’ the Scot would remain at the club regardless of what division they’d be in. On a personal level, the 34-year-old seemed less sure.

“That's probably at the back of my head at the minute,” Bannan said. “I'm focusing on winning games. If this is a the season where my Sheffield Wednesday career ends, I want to make sure it's a big, big season and one I look back on with pride.

“Fighting relegation isn't something to be particularly proud of, but it's still an achievement considering how the season started. This could be my last six games at this club so I'm going to give it my all and hopefully give the fans something to cheer at the end of the season.”