‘The craziest thing…’ – Sheffield Wednesday’s Barry Bannan makes Owls claim that'll delight Wednesdayites
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The Owls are setting new club records, climbing up the League One table and on course to challenge for their first league title since the 1950s, but their skipper doesn’t feel like they’ve fully hit their stride yet.
Back from injury and back scoring goals, Bannan played his part in a comprehensive 3-0 win over Morecambe on Tuesday evening, dictating play in the middle of the park before coming off in the second half with the game well and truly settled.
His quick-fire strike in the first minute made it 11 goals and assists for the 33-year-old this season, and he’s not the only one in double figures – Josh Windass (20) and Michael Smith (15) are both above him in that sense.
It’s at the other end where they’ve really impressed, though. Their 18th clean sheet of the season set a new club record, they’ve got over 10.5 hours of league football at home without conceding, and they’re only two games away from a new club record in terms of games without defeat.
And their skipper thinks there’s more to come.
"The craziest thing is, we're better than we're showing as well,” he told The Star. “A lot of the boys are saying the same, we're a well-oiled machine – that’s what we’ve got this season.
"Last season we played a lot of good football and controlled a lot of games without seeing them out, or we conceded silly goals from set-plays. We’ve got all the different aspects to the team this season. We can defend, we can score, we’ve got a bit of everything.
"The big difference is being able to see games out the horrible way – we’re doing that well, 18 clean sheets speaks for itself.
"It's a very good team this season, with team being the main word. Everybody is fighting for each other… We've had a lot of injuries and the squad depth's been challenged to the max but the people coming in have been brilliant. They listen day in and day out, and when they get their chance they take it.”
That teamwork, the sense of a collective, goes a long way in a title push. And Bannan says that he doesn’t have much policing to do in his captaincy role – saying that they aren’t short of leaders in the dressing room.
He said of his role, “They’re good lads, some of them step out of line sometimes – but it’s little things like being late, and that’s managed. We’ve got a lot of senior boys in there who have been around. So it’s not always me, if it’s the same voice it can get a bit boring.
“We’ve got a lot of leaders, we have a great bunch of determined players – they know what they want and won’t let anything get in the way. It’s a pleasure to work with them.”
It’s a scary thought for the rest of the league if this Wednesday team – unbeaten in four months, sitting with +33 goal difference, and with the third meanest defence in the top four tiers – can get better.
But they won’t be happy until they’re on top once again.