Chris Waddle fears Owls supporters may become “fed-up” with head coach Carlos Carvalhal if promotion evades their grasp again.
Carvalhal, in his third full season as Wednesday boss, has earned plenty of plaudits after steering the Championship club to back-to-back play-offs.
But, ultimately, the Owls have fallen short at the final hurdle and Wednesday legend Waddle believes there is big pressure on Carvalhal to make it third time lucky this season.
Waddle told The Star: “It’s Carlos’s third season and you can’t keep being the bridesmaid. Sometimes you have to say ‘this is it’. If Wednesday don’t go up this year, I think people are going to get a little bored and fed-up with it.”
Waddle, a highly-respected media pundit, has tipped his old club to secure a top-six finish. But the ex-England international feels automatic promotion will be a step too far.
He said: “I would be surprised and very disappointed if they are not in the play-offs but I don’t see the top two looking at them.
“I think they needed to make two or three key signings to go that extra level. Newcastle and Brighton did that last year but I don’t think Wednesday have.
“There are about 10 or 11 teams in the league who can go up and I would definitely put Wednesday in that group. I think they have as good a chance as anybody else.
“They just have to get a run going and keep everyone injury free and there is no reason they can’t go up.”
Waddle reckons striker Jordan Rhodes could play a big part in Wednesday’s promotion bid if the team start playing more to his strengths.
“One thing I criticise Wednesday for at times is they don’t put the ball in the box enough and Jordan thrives on that,” he said. “If Jordan doesn’t get service and crosses into the box, he’s not going to score goals.”
Waddle was among the guests at Wednesday’s 150th anniversary dinner on Monday night.
The wing ace, who spent four years at Hillsborough after leaving French club Marseille, said: “It was great to meet up with a lot of lads who I hadn’t seen in a long time.
“I had four years at Wednesday and thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I came from Marseille and a lot of people thought ‘why did you go to Sheffield Wednesday?’
“I played against Wednesday in my early days at Newcastle and Tottenham and I always had a lot of respect for the club. I was amazed how many fans they seemed to take on the road. I was always impressed with that.
“When I came to sign for the team, it was not a hard decision. They had a great season the year before and were in Europe.”
Waddle, who famously scored in Wednesday’s FA Cup semi-final triumph over Sheffield United in 1993, added: “When I was at the club, we had a wonderful dressing room. We had fantastic characters in Kingy [Phil King], Carlton [Palmer], Shezza [John Sheridan] and Hirsty [David Hirst].
“The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic in the changing room. You just couldn’t wait to train. We played, ate and drank together.
“The fans must have been in dreamland the season where we got to Wembley four times. They must have been thinking ‘wow, what’s going on here’ because we were!
“Unfortunately it fell apart a bit after that but hopefully the club are on the way back now.”