Sheffield Wednesday The ups and downs of the Owls season

Jos Luhukay
Jos Luhukay
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Dom Howson looks back on an eventful 2017/18 Championship campaign.

Best performance

Adam Reach

Adam Reach

There are a few contenders. The team played well for long periods in home victories over Leeds United, Derby County, Preston North End and Norwich City.

Thumping Nottingham Forest 3-0 on Boxing Day, just 48 hours after Carvalhal’s departure, also deserves an honourable mention.

However, their most complete team performance arguably came in the 2-1 triumph at Villa Park. They outplayed, outfought and out-thought one of the best teams in the division. The defence looked compact and well-organised, Barry Bannan and Jacob Butterfield were outstanding in the middle of the park and Jordan Rhodes put in one of his better displays in attack.

Worst performance

Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal

There are, unfortunately, too many to choose from. Their defending in the final quarter of the Steel City at Hillsborough was nothing short of embarrassing.

You would have thought there would have been a positive reaction to the United drubbing but Wednesday also failed to turn up at struggling Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers. Burton Albion at home was dreadful. As was Bristol City away. But Preston North End on the opening day gets my vote. It was a dismal display and the supporters made their voices heard at the final whistle by booing the team off.

Goal of the season

Adam Reach’s left-foot screamer after 18 seconds against Villa. His dipping left foot volley flew into the top corner from 25 yards. It was stunning, techniquely superb and deservedly won the Championship goal of the month for November. “It was one of them where you dream of striking a ball like that; it just dropped and I never broke stride, didn’t really have time to think about what I wanted to do,” said Reach. “I just hit it.”

Fernando Forestieri

Fernando Forestieri

Baffling decision

Jos Luhukay’s decision to not name a recognised striker at Millwall. He left Nuhiu and Lucas Joao on the bench but Luhukay’s call backfired as the Owls slipped to a 2-1 defeat. Nuhiu and Joao came on late on. It was a strange team selection, culminating in Luhukay receiving criticism from some quarters.

Player’s quote

“We weren’t fit enough. The training has been different, a lot more high intensity. Even when Bully (Lee Bullen) came in (as caretaker manager following Carlos Carvalhal’s departure), the intensity went up.” George Boyd blamed a lack of fitness and conditioning for under-achieving this season after back-to-back play-offs.

George Boyd

George Boyd

Manager’s quote

“I can not explain it very well but it was in a dangerous area. I spoke to him after and I said in the evening his wife must be careful ... it’s not happening tonight!” Jos Luhukay on defender Jack Hunt taking one for the team in their hard-fought victory at Hull City which preserved the Owls’ Championship status. Hunt rushed out to block a Kamil Grosicki cross only for the ball to hit him in the groin area. After receiving treatment for several minutes, Hunt was eventually forced off.

Comeback of the year

Fernando Forestieri marked his return to action with a glorious free-kick in the rout over Preston. With 12 minutes remaining, the mercurial Argentinian stepped up off the bench and he curled in a delightful free-kick in added on time.

Forestieri spent most of the campaign recovering from a serious knee injury but his return coincided with an upturn in their fortunes.

Bizarre moment

When Carvalhal reached into his pocket to take out a £20 note before screwing it up and beating it with his fist on a table to show the value of his Owls side after their derby defeat. It was an extraordinary, remarkable rant and the first sign that the pressure was starting to get to the Portuguese boss.

Player of the season

Bannan played well in the first half of the season while Nuhiu has impressed this calendar year.

But Reach produced consistently fine performances across a number of different positions. You dread to think where Wednesday might have ended up without Reach. In a disappointing campaign for the Owls, he has been their shining light in the midfield engine room. His energetic, all-action performances caught the eye and he weighed in with an impressive 11 assists.

Farce of the season

The kit. It took until late October for the replica shirts to go on sale after a number of manufacturing issues.

As chairman Dejphon Chansiri later pointed out, the kit delay took the shine off their 150th anniversary celebrations. Let’s hope lessons have been learned.

For more news from Hillsborough click here