The reality facing ponderous, predictable Sheffield Wednesday
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Now that the first route has been all but completely blocked, this reality has also to be faced - Sheffield Wednesday’s current performance levels will not do.
Not only is an improvement required, it needs to be - if I dare use the word - a massive one.
Is that within the compass of this squad? Well, it should be. The last two league games have to be about kick-starting a momentum that has been mysteriously lost.
If that is to happen, nobody embodied the way forward better last Saturday than Dennis Adeniran, who lifted a grim afternoon as substitute and inspired Callum Paterson’s late winner.
There is no getting away from the truth that recent showings generally, and last weekend’s particularly, are way below what’s required in the remaining two-to-five games.
Suddenly Wednesday are attempting a relaunch from an almost standing start. They look flat, ponderous, predictable, error-riddled, laboured - and tired.
Manager Darren Moore referred to “tiredness” and admitted nervousness too after the fortunate, somehow clawed out 2-1 win over a makeshift, below mid-table Exeter.
Yet, for a side packed with experience of higher levels, the apparent lack of self-belief is surprising to say the least.
There looked to be a need to take more responsibility all over the field for what Moore cited as “making something happen.”
That need - and the chance to do it - remains precariously intact.
The experience that really should help is a double-edged sword with an ageing squad averaging around 29 and a lack of athleticism becoming apparent against invariably younger teams. But that is an issue for another day, whatever the division next season.
Maybe a single player returning can make a difference big enough to drag the Owls through. It is never healthy to rely on one player, as Wednesday have found with Barry Bannan in recent times. But even Bannan has not been as effective without the outlet to attack, down either side, that Josh Windass provides.
There was an almost telepathic understanding between them up to Windass’s ill-timed injury. His return cannot come soon enough. Can he hit the ground running?
All of this said, in any normal season Wednesday would be home and hosed for promotion. To have 90 points and miss out is astonishing.
Maybe unlucky too. And fortune is another element that can’t be under-estimated if Wednesday are to refuel themselves just when the tank seems to be at its emptiest.