When does a blip turn into a crisis?
The dark clouds seem to be gathering over Hillsborough. The momentum and feelgood factor Sheffield Wednesday generated in the opening six weeks of the season has gradually fizzled out. Those thrilling away victories at Brighton and Hove Albion, Middlesbrough and Birmingham City seem an awfully long time ago. Only four points now separate Wednesday and the Championship’s bottom three.
Head coach Stuart Gray admits he is a man under pressure and is acutely aware results must improve for him to keep a hold of his job.
Gray also knows that a lack of firepower is costing them dearly. At Huddersfield, they finished the stronger side and created enough chances to pick up maximum points.
But four out of Wednesday’s last seven matches have finished goalless and it’s been nearly seven and a half hours since they last scored in their own backyard. Why have the goals dried up and who is to blame for their inability to kill teams off?
It’s not solely the striker’s fault. In some matches, particularly at home, Atdhe Nuhiu and Stevie May have fed off scraps. The service needs to get better into the forwards and Wednesday require more goals from all departments to get back on track.
Gray is trying everything he possibly can to fix their goal-scoring problems. They trained on the Hillsborough pitch this week, working on team pattern and shape. That home goal from open play still eludes them.
Against Huddersfield, Gray fielded a positive, attack minded line-up. I don’t think many Wednesdayites were unhappy over his team selection. May, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Lewis McGugan have scored goals throughout their careers. Chris Maguire and Nuhiu came on in the closing stages and they still couldn’t end their goal drought.
It’s great Caolan Lavery is back in training, scoring goals at Under-21 level and in contention to play after a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury. He is a natural finisher and his pace stretches defences.
The bottom line is it doesn’t matter how the Owls play versus Wigan tomorrow. No one will care if it’s not aesthetically pleasing and a goal goes in off a player’s backside. Any goal, or win for that matter, will do.