Another game and another defeat but there was more to this match than the scoreline suggests for Sheffield Wednesday.
Here are six talking points from the 2-0 defeat to Derby County
PERFORMANCE DESERVED MORE
No, they weren't great. Yes, they brought the loss on themselves. Yes, they failed to hit the target once and no, you don't get points for valiant defeats. However, after a six-week period in which Sheffield Wednesday players have deservedly been battered from pillar to post, the team did at least warrant some credit on Saturday. With confidence sure to have been very low, when Glenn Loovens gave away a penalty after just four minutes and was then sent off, everyone of a Wednesday persuasion will have feared the worst. Heads could have dropped, the ghost given up. That didn't happen. They dug deep, never shirked the challenge and though didn't create many chances, the team never stopped trying to find a way through. Sure, giving 100% is not much to shout about, as anything less is an insult to the fans, but given how things have been (largely of their own making), finally showing some guts in the face of adversity is something positive to look to. If they show that kind of roll-your-sleeves-up determination in every game they will win many more than they don't. So that's the next challenge; repeat it week after week.
LOST THE DRESSING ROOM? NO CHANCE
It's often a claim thrown about when a manager is under pressure and given the protection from criticism that Carvalhal had been offering his players without seemingly getting anything in return, in this instance there was some merit in the argument. However, the way they played on Saturday offered an indication that Carvalhal hasn't 'lost the dressing room'. He's lost a lot of fans but the players appear to be behind him, still.
REFEREES GETTING IT WRONG...AGAIN
Last week I was critical of Carlos Carvalhal for complaining about not getting a penalty in the defeat to Bolton. The reason for that was mainly due to the fact that it masked a terrible performance by his players. This week the players stood up and so Carvalhal was, in this moment, right to bemoan yet another poor decision. Matej Vydra's gaining a penalty and the subsequent sending off of Loovens was no different to that which saw Steven Fletcher upended by Craig Forsyth, yet the decisions were different. According to Carvalhal referee Scott Duncan said he saw Forsyth's hand on Fletcher's back but felt the Owls striker should have stayed on his feet. If that's the case then Duncan has had a shocker. There's no way he can judge how much pressure Forsyth put on Fletcher and in any case, these days contact in the box is a penalty. It cost Wednesday a point on this occasion and goes into a now weighty file of calls that have gone against Wednesday. It's helping to pile more pressure on Carvalhal and God knows, there have been enough inept displays by those closer to him in recent weeks without poor officiating adding to them.
LOOVENS SHOULD KNOW BETTER
Many, including myself, had called for Loovens to be recalled to the starting XI and in four minutes he completely contradicted every reason for doing so. Joost van Aken's performances since joining Wednesday have been up and down but he's still learning and deserves the benefit of the doubt on that score. However, in these difficult times, experience and some composure was needed to steady the ship and Loovens fits the bill for that. At least he should. On Saturday all of his defensive know-how went out the window as he was sucked in by Vydra and paid the price. It's hard to be too critical of a player who has been so consistent for Wednesday over the years, but frankly aside from anything else, it was this overall that cost his team on Saturday.
HEAT STILL VERY MUCH ON CARVALHAL
While the display offered some encouragement and probably prevented some fans who may still be somewhere in the middle of the Carlos in/out camps from falling over to the 'get rid' side of the fence, it remains another defeat and means they've now lost more than they've won this season. They're also conceding as many as they are scoring and putting that all together, it's not form that's going to reap promotion. There are now two huge games coming up that not long ago would have been seen as fairly run-of-the-mill fixtures. Barnsley and Millwall at home in the space of a couple of days are crucial to the Owls' season and it would be hard to argue against six points being the absolute minimum now. The problem Carvalhal faces is that these are two teams Wednesday should be beating anyway, so he'll get few plaudits should two wins be collected. If they drop points in either - particularly in a local derby with Barnsley - and slide further down the table, then it could be catastrophic for Carvalhal.
They were isolated incidents but the scuffles which broke out amongst Wednesday supporters at Pride Park are indicative of the mood at present. It crept in at Bolton, with some chanting 'we want Carlos out' while others attempted to drown out that noise, and manifested itself in a more physical fashion on Saturday. There is a cloud over the club at the minute with problems appearing on and off the pitch and the frustrations growing. Some of those issues have been bubbling behind the scenes for a while but they tend to be largely ignored when the team is playing well. That's why that cloud appears to be turning into a thunderous storm. Everyone wants change; all want a change in results, some a change in management and a lot also would like change in their pocket after buying a new shirt. The main group of people who can lift this misery is the one that wears the jersey on the pitch. Consistently better performances are needed quickly...hopefully the players realise, and can cope, with that level of responsibility before things get toxic.