Stereophonics and a grumpy Begbie: Five big takes from Sheffield Wednesday's opening day win at Cardiff City

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Glorious, wasn’t it? The Welsh sunshine beating down on a classy Sheffield Wednesday away win, three points back in the pocket and big a group cuddle to finish.

Josh Windass and Jordan Rhodes fired the Owls to their first-ever win at the Cardiff City Stadium and to minus-nine on the points tally.

But you already know all this. Let’s take a look at a handful of talking points from a hugely encouraging start to the league season.

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Going Dutch?

Owls skipper Barry Bannan. Pic Steve EllisOwls skipper Barry Bannan. Pic Steve Ellis
Owls skipper Barry Bannan. Pic Steve Ellis

“I’m Joost looking, I’m not buying,” the Welsh band Stereophonics nearly sang back in 1999.

Perhaps it was a premonition centred on Saturrday’s clash at the Cardiff City stadium and the quandary facing Garry Monk over the make-up of his defensive stores heading into a long 2020/21 season. Perhaps.

There was a collective eyebrow-raise across the Wednesday world at 2pm when the Joost van Aken was named in the Owls back three.

His first few moments Joost-ified that cautiousness (last one I promise) as he ran under a header or two and gave away free-kicks while getting to grips with the physicality of the hosts’ attack.

Owls trio Tom Lees, Massimo Luongo and Joost van Aken block out another Cardiff City attack. Picure: Steve Ellis.Owls trio Tom Lees, Massimo Luongo and Joost van Aken block out another Cardiff City attack. Picure: Steve Ellis.
Owls trio Tom Lees, Massimo Luongo and Joost van Aken block out another Cardiff City attack. Picure: Steve Ellis.

But how he roared back.

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A classy sliding tackle on half an hour – roared on by his teammates – proved to be the turning point in an otherwise classy display.

Asked after the game of van Aken’s place in his plans this season, Monk maintained a neutral footing.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, but you fancy many more performances like that won’t do him harm should he want to prove himself in Sheffield.

Penney sweet

Throughout his Owls tenure, when circumstances have allowed, Monk has rewarded good performances.

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The latest beneficiary was youngster Matt Penney, whose 30-minute snooze-halting cameo at Walsall proved enough for a start in the league opener.

He went well, excellent in defence and at times a threat going forward before he was replaced by the experienced Liam Palmer late.

But it was the very fact he was there that is the talking point. It was a message continued, you feel, that those who perform will continue to be given opportunities.

Strike two

Make absolutely no mistake, Sheffield Wednesday require one, two or maybe even three new strikers through the door before the transfer window is locked-up on October 5. A joyous 2-0 win in the Welsh sunshine doesn’t change that.

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But wasn’t it a delight to see two of their current cohort do the business?

Josh Windass was a class apart – my man of the match – and on that evidence a £500,000 transfer fee looks like fine business.

His endeavour and will to win – more on that shortly – was a breath of fresh air and his goal a work of real Championship class, riding a couple of hefty challenges to slot it past Alex Smithies. More please.

Rhodes? Well after a number of false dawns it would be unwise to build him up too far again, but it scoring one from one you can’t ask for more.

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The Adam Reach experiment continued to middling effect but it was Elias Kachunga that showed a little of what he’s got to offer, crashing around with a desire to close the game out that all at the Huddersfield end has recommended.

It all came together just lovely. Nice to watch.

It’s good to talk

Watching a football game without supporters just isn’t right.

The ebb and flow of the game is fairly joyless, the theatre of the whole thing sapped and the entire premise reduced more or less to what it is – a load of rich fellas booting a ball about for a bit.

The one advantage it does deliver is the ability to hear a bit of what’s going on out there, which in turn offers two insights; firstly, the communication.

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In the dying embers of last season Wednesday looked tired and beaten up.

The question of leadership was thrown up just about every time us media types had the opportunity to speak with anyone within the camp and time and again the suggestion was simple – leaders are here, they’re just not necessarily showing it.

What we saw at Cardiff was a Wednesday side unrecognisable from the one we’d all grown accustomed to since Christmas.

They bellowed at one another, they organised, they cajoled – both on the pitch and from the bench.

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The main protagonists? Monk and his first team coach Andrew Hughes for a start, kicking every ball in a way we hadn’t really seen before from the sidelines.

Tom Lees, perhaps freed from the armband, set about organising the backline with Napoleonic authority and Barry Bannan, well Barry Bannan did what Barry Bannan does, shouting at his teammates like Begbie with a stubbed toe. In a good way.

But the emerging leader is perhaps a surprising one; Josh Windass.

The 26-year-old forward, buoyed by an early goal on his second full debut, who appears to demand perfection from all around him.

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Handle that desperation delicately and it could be the finishing touch to a stand-up-and-count-em Wednesday spine.

The second insight is.. who in their right mind would ever want to be a referee? It gets awful sweary down there.


Just as the message would have been if the scoreline had been reversed, Garry Monk’s post-match message was to not get carried away.

Remember the scenes of euphoria at Elland Road all those months ago? This was only the first game of 46, the Owls boss stressed. There’s a long and from time to time painful journey to go on here.


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