Transformation a credit to Megson and his men

Less pressure: Ryan Lowe is happy to be just off the top spot
Less pressure: Ryan Lowe is happy to be just off the top spot
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WEDNESDAY’S visit to Tranmere tomorrow brings to mind the progress they have made under Gary Megson.

A visit to Prenton Park last season ended with fans booing and chanting “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”.

The Owls had slumped to a seventh successive away League defeat, 3-0.

It was commonplace for them to concede two or three goals because of what Megson described as suicidal defending, and he responded to the fans’ reaction by saying: “It’s understandable.

“We’ve got to take all the brickbats that come our way, and deservedly so. We’ve been battered in a game where we should have got something.”

Nine months later, the Owls have almost an entirely new team, a lofty position in the table, a haul of 10 points from their last five away league games, and a whole new outlook, plus progress in the FA Cup after last week’s clearance of a tricky hurdle at Morecambe.

This is only a pause for thought, as the season is such a slog.

With 29 games to go, there is plenty of time for decline for any club who rest on their laurels.

But I do not detect any complacency at Hillsborough - and I am sure that can fans can see, via the performances of the team, that spirit and professionalism flourish in the camp - oh, and not forgetting skilful football.

The Owls have established a reputation as a good side, a big, physically powerful side who are particularly strong in the air and at set-pieces.

Almost every week the opposing manager will talk about them in those kind of terms, and rightly so. But they are not without cohesive passing, and much of the stuff they played in the first half at Morecambe was just good football.

The quality, the organisation, the workrate and the spirit are all a credit to Megson and his staff and the players.

There will be slip-ups in the next six months, I am sure. Who can be certain that one won’t happen at Tranmere tomorrow?

But the Owls have given themselves a sturdy platform.

It was interesting to hear the viewpoint of Chris Lines and Ryan Lowe, who have both said in recent weeks that they quite like being on the shoulder of the League One leaders rather than being out in front.

There is some merit in the feeling that there is less pressure when you are third instead of being up there to be shot at: You can keep the top two in your sights and keep them as your target, hoping to surge past them later in the season.

I suppose it’s a bit like a race in athletics where the top runners benefit from having a pacemaker.

It worked for Bury, Lowe’s old club, last season.

But I guess there is also something to be said for being miles in front if you are confident of having the quality and mental strength to keep going.

Charlton are five points clear of second place, looking good and reaping the benefits of the huge summer investment in their squad, which brought 20 signings.

Huddersfield, another of the division’s big spenders, are two points ahead of Wednesday. The race is on.