Sheffield Wednesday shoot themselves in the foot: Six talking points from Swansea defeat
It feels like the long, slow march to Gillingham has begun.
Sheffield Wednesday require something truly incredible to stay in the Championship, a turnaround in fortunes that the club has not seen in some time.
And a 2-0 defeat to promotion-chasing Swansea City was yet another nail in a coffin that in reality has been well secured for weeks if not months.
But what of the talking points, should you desire them, as the season trudges on?
The moment it changed..
Wednesday looked good, really good, between the boxes as good as they have been going forward all season. They flicked balls round the corner, played natty one-twos and showed the sort of invention that saw Julian Borner turn into an overlapping centre-half and make a bolt into the Swans’ half.
The birds were singing, the evening sunlight glistening off the empty seating in the Kop End. It was nothing short of joyous.
And then it happened. Bannan pushed the ball back to Lees, Lees relaxed too much, Ayew bounded down with the air of a man that knew something was afoot. His shoulder charge was met with little resistance and Jamal Lowe scored.
It is these moments that break teams and there have been too many of them this season as far as Wednesday are concerned. It’s a habit that needs to change.
Rightly or wrongly, it was the big selection talking point from the moment Stefan Johansen’s deflected shot beat the left palm of Joe Wildsmith at QPR; who would take the place between the sticks for Sheffield Wednesday.
The honour fell to the more experienced option, Keiren Westwood. Now fully recovered from a rib injury that has seen him go without a game for nearly a month, the decision was a big call for Moore and his staff to make. And though there was little he could do for Swansea’s goal, he made one or two excellent saves.
Together with the re-emergence of Liam Shaw it suggests Moore remains all-in in terms of the players he has right here, right now and that any notion that he will select sides with one eye on next season is codswallop.
A change is gonna come..
The dropping of Callum Paterson to the bench was another bold selection call in that Wednesday have looked by far their most dangerous in recent months with the Scot on the pitch alongside Jordan Rhodes and Josh Windass. But as the game panned out it looked necessary.
Swansea wanted to get the ball down and were tidy, but with the Owls allowing them possession in their own half, they seemed to struggle a touch in breaking Wednesday down.
Turning a blind eye to results, Wednesday have looked more confident on the ball and more willing to try things in every game since Moore came in, more likely to make things happen. Their football on the break was somewhere beyond encouraging in stages, daring and dangerous, particularly in the first half.
And then they took a machine gun to their foot. If Wednesday are to forge a bold new future playing out from the back, you’d have to wonder whether it might be best doing so without Tom Lees.
He’s been one of the Owls’ better players, but it was in his relaxed handling of possession that Andre Ayew was able to bundle him off the ball and square it for Jamal Lowe’s opener.
It was a painful watch and went to prove that everything Moore is trying to change about Wednesday will take a little time.
It had been a long, long time since Izzy Brown had kicked a football for Sheffield Wednesday’s first team. In fact, the last time he did was the corner that gave away possession ahead of Freddie Ladapo’s injury time winner at S6 for Rotherham.
He’s been the forgotten man at Wednesday, in and out of the under-23s, with question marks thrown over his fitness by former managers.
He has talent, and you wonder where on earth it has gone so badly wrong for the Chelsea loanee. It’s yet another example of things not going right for a club that as it stands turns everything it touches to, well, something that is not gold.
A positive? Liam Palmer has been excellent in Wednesday last couple of matches and was a constant threat on the right hand side, defending diligently while offering a number of dangerous-looking crosses.
He has a big few weeks coming up, desperate as you’d imagine he is to secure a place in Scotland’s squad for the European Championships. And whoever was watching from the Scotland camp will have been impressed.
So where are we at?
Staring down the barrel of the very machine gun that cost them in the match.
The point has been made countless times before, but defeat to Swansea, to Watford, to an impressive QPR are not the results that – save for a miracle – will relegate this Sheffield Wednesday side.
It’s the turgid double against Rotherham, home defeat to Birmingham, the balloon-deflating defeat at Wycombe. Five to go. It may well be that four wins are needed from their last four matches. The fat lady is undertaking her warm-ups and so on..
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Lees, Hutchinson, Borner (Green, 76), Pelupessy, Bannan, Shaw (Brown, 64), Reach, Windass, Rhodes (Paterson, 64)
Substitutes: Wildsmith, Harris, Penney, Urhoghide, Hunt, Kachunga
Swansea: Woodman; Naughton, Bennett, Guehi, Manning (Bidwell, 75); Fulton, Grimes, Hourihane (Smith, 80); Routledge (Roberts, 73), Ayew, Lowe
Substitutes: Hamer, Freeman, Latibeaudiere, Dhanda, Cooper, Whittaker