A third of the season in and it’s not exactly been the campaign that Sheffield Wednesday fans expected, or even hoped for.
That said, there’s still plenty of football still to be played and at this stage the club’s ambitions could well still be met.
It’s looking increasingly likely that a promotion charge will have to come by way of the play-offs, as it has done for the past two seasons.
Here we take a quick look at the campaign so far and pick out the best and the worst of what we’ve seen from Wednesday in 2017/18.
Pretty easy one this. Just before the international break stunted the building momentum Wednesday turned in their best display of the campaign with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa. The Owls were superb in attack and at the back with Barry Bannnan and Jacob Butterfield orchestrating things in the middle. Both goals were excellent and it was an extremely impressive victory for the Owls.
Barry Bannan has consistently been the Owls’ main man in a season that has failed to draw too many big performers. Quite a few have had decent spells, while Gary Hooper has been impressive with his goals and his intelligent link-up play throughout.
Adam Reach, too, appears to be showing the kind of form that caused Wednesday to shell out for him in the first place, especially when playing on the left of midfield, which is clearly his best position. However, Bannan has been the man to make Wednesday tick with his neat, intelligent passing and purposeful play.
Hard to choose between either of the goals against Aston Villa, but Adam Reach’s superb strike just about edges it over Jordan Rhodes’ finish to a well-worked move. There haven’t been too many stand-out goals so far this season but Gary Hooper’s deft back-heeled flick, away to Burton early on in the campaign, is also worth a mention
The derby’s welcome return after an extended hiatus brought an incredible noise to Hillsborough, particularly just before kick off and at half time, moments after Gary Hooper had given Wednesday a route back into the game
Reach’s goal against Villa has already been mentioned but aside from it’s absolute quality, the timing was everything. Wednesday are very often and very rightly accused of starting matches too slowly. Firing in after 18 seconds is one way of countering those critics and the goal set the tone for a fine display.
We’re in ‘best of an average bunch’ territory here. None of the five players brought in in the transfer window have exactly ripped things up for Wednesday but there is cause for optimism at least. Rhodes is back scoring, Joost van Aken has shown signs of being a good player when he eventually cuts out the errors and Jacob Butterfield, who probably has been the best overall, looks to have won and regular place and it will be difficult to shift him on recent form.
Sadly you can take your pick from a few. It all started very badly with a horror show against Preston on the opening day - a performance definitely up there with the worst. There was also, of course, the defeat to Sheffield United. The worst overall performance, though, came at the Macron where Wednesday were terrible in losing to bottom-of-the-table Bolton.
The derby showing. It’s often forgotten that they did do well to get back from 2-0 down but should never have been in that position in the first place. Then to concede so quickly after equalising through Lucas Joao was criminal. United seemed to want it more - all the more galling for Owls fans.