Sam Hutchinson believes Wednesday’s humiliating home defeat to cross city rivals Sheffield United dented the players confidence and “put a downer on their season”.
The Owls’ form has noticeably dipped since United thrashed Carlos Carvalhal’s side 4-2 in front of the TV cameras on September 24.
While the Blades have kicked on and are well-placed to mount a top-six push, Wednesday have gone backwards. Carvalhal’s men have slipped into the bottom half of the Championship after recording just three victories from their last 13 outings.
Hutchinson, fit-again following knee surgery, admitted: “Sheffield United beating us put a downer on the season and knocked the confidence of the boys.
“We felt it as well, it doesn’t matter if you are not from Sheffield. We felt it. It’s the derby. The majority of the squad are British so we know what it means to play in a derby.”
The midfielder enforcer, who will start today’s crucial clash with mid-table Middlesbrough, says the players are determined to rectify their poor results.
“We care a lot about the club, want to play for the club, and win,” stressed Hutchinson. “It’s not just the fans who want to get to the Premier League, we want to get to the Premier League.
“It’s a family club and deserves to be in the Premier League, with a few tweeks and some infrastructure, it could be.
“It takes time, it’s not like ‘oh the chairman has loads of money, we are going up’. Look how much clubs like Aston Villa and Derby have spent, they pay massive wages.
Sheffield United beating us put a downer on the season and knocked the confidence of the boys.Wednesday ace Sam Hutchinson
“They are bigger clubs than Sheffield Wednesday, because they pay more wages. Not in terms of fan base, because we have one of the biggest fan bases outside the Premier League.
“You have to be realistic, but the fans are not going to be realistic because they know how good the club can be. I too know how good the club can be, otherwise I wouldn’t keep signing here.”
Hutchinson has written off the prospect of the Owls challenging for automatic promotion but he is sure the team possess the character and quality to qualify for the play-offs again.
He said: “If you are flying, your team spirit is going to be amazing. If you are struggling, it gets questioned. Everything gets questioned, people saying it’s because of this or that.
“But we just went on our Christmas do, and the next two training sessions were probably the best I have seen all season.
“So the team spirit is there, you can’t question that.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work, and you lose games of football.
“But it’s where you end up at the end of the season, not where you are at the start or middle.
“Get 10 points and we are in the play-offs. Three games and a point away.
“No-one said Burnley would be fourth in the Premier League, or Huddersfield Town would have gone up last season - they scored one goal against us in four games. Look at them now, doing a great job in the Premier League.
“Football is crazy and people think too much into it. If you simplify it, you win or lose a game.
“If you win, everyone looks to the end of the season, which is inevitable with fans. But as a footballer you have to be more pragmatic in taking it one game at a time.”