Sheffield Wednesday’s musical accompaniment – FIVE talking points as the Owls somehow remain in the race for survival
At least the DJ’s got a sense of humour…
Sugar, We’re Going Down. Long Road To Ruin. Highway To Hell. They were all on the pre-match playlist at Hillsborough ahead of the game against Nottingham Forest.
Here now, don't make a sound. Say, have you heard the news today? – Somehow Sheffield Wednesday are still in the Championship.
Their season tickets on a one-way ride to League One have not yet been booked. Now it’s time to see if they can go down swinging.
On the basis of their performance against Forest, it’s hard to say that they will. It was lacklustre, it lacked urgency, it didn’t feel like a do-or-die affair for a team that incredibly keep having the door left a little bit open for them.
Wednesday could have been dead and buried on so many occasions. With 30 minutes to go in Derby County’s game against Swansea City they were down. The limping 0-0 draw against Forest was to be the final nail in the coffin, and then the Swans turned it on and set up what is already being billed as ‘Survival Saturday’.
Rotherham United, who drew 1-1 against Blackburn Rovers this weekend, still have a say, and both the Owls and the Rams could still go down – but for Darren Moore’s side they’ll need to be substantially better and be considerably more potent at Pride Park than they were at Hillsborough.
If not, League One beckons.
Some talking points…
Before it's way too late
It was bad… It was a huge chance for Wednesday to make a claim as to why they deserve to stay in the Championship. It needed a big performance from big players because everybody knew that it could be the day they were sent packing.
But they didn’t get any big performances. Keiren Westwood made a penalty save that has – for now at least – saved them, but was one of several players who made a mistake that could’ve cost them their place in the division.
Even a Wednesday win didn’t guarantee that they’d take it to the last day, so the fact that they almost seemed content with a draw for large parts was criminal in itself. If ever there was a game to be up for, it was this one.
Derby led, too. It should’ve been over. But they live to fight another day, there are no more ‘next times’ anymore. It’s all or nothing at Pride Park now.
Is this more than you bargained for yet?
No doubt Moore new the size of the challenge when he joined Wednesday. He’ll absolutely have known the challenge ahead, but with his battle against COVID-19, the throwaway results and inability of the other sides around them to take advantage, it’s probably safe to say that he’s dealing with a lot more stress than he signed up for when he made the move to Hillsborough.
Despite all that though, while results haven’t been spectacular, there is a marked improvement since he came in. Even in Saturday’s game, when they didn’t look at the races for so much of it, they had 14 shots and five on target – two stats that are both considerably higher than their pre-Moore averages this season.
But they’re still their own worst enemies. Westwood, Adam Reach and Julian Börner all made errors that could – and probably should – have led to goals, and Callum Paterson could possibly have counted himself lucky not to have given away another penalty.
Jamie Smith admitted after the game that those individual errors are frustrating – they’re just lucky that Forest weren’t able to capitalise, so they live to fight another day. There’s a small chance Moore might be back on the sidelines for that one, but only time will tell on that.
Down, down in an earlier round
It should’ve been done. Wednesday didn’t play with the tempo of a side desperately fighting for their lives. They didn’t look like a side breaking their backs to get the result that could save their Championship status. Ultimately, they’re just lucky that Derby crumbled at the Liberty Stadium. It’s almost like nobody actually wants to stay up – the fact that there’s still (for now) nobody relegated going into the final day is mad really.
No stranger singing in your name
You have to wonder whether things would’ve been different at Hillsborough today if there’d been fans there. Maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference, but maybe it could’ve been the catalyst for some sort of late salvo that could’ve gotten them over the line. Forest were there for the taking, and you can’t help but feel that a bit of encouragement could’ve gone a long way.
Some fans did turn up outside the ground – masked and socially distanced – to give a bit of a chant before the game, but it’s obviously no substitute for the real thing.
Also, fair play to Tom Lees who, despite having some pretty serious ankle ligament damage, turned up to back his teammates. He wants to go to Derby too.
Under the cold floodlights
Of course football isn’t everything. It’s still just a game at the end of the day. And regardless of what happens in that final game on May 8th, there was a really nice touch from the club in the build-up to the Forest game as they paid tribute to all of the members of the SWFC family that are no longer with us.
It’s not ideal circumstances, obviously. With a pandemic meaning no fans and a social media boycott meaning no coverage, the moment won’t get the traction that it deserves. Which is why it’s being mentioned here.
With black armbands, a moment’s silence and a video dedicated to Wednesdayites, former players, former directors and former employees, Wednesday took time to honour those that have played a part in the club’s long history. It was a touching tribute, and hugely deserved.