Column: Bristol hammering may sharpen a few minds for the run-in

Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal
Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal

When Stuart Gray was in charge of the Owls, one of his favourite sayings was ‘you are only as good as your last performance’.

If you believe in that sporting cliché, Wednesday have got plenty of room for improvement.

For boss Carlos Carvalhal, who normally protects his players from criticism, to publicly admit the team lacked their usual fight, heart and aggression in Saturday’s drubbing away to Bristol City, you know it must have been a shocker.

The manner and timing of Wednesday’s biggest defeat of the campaign was what really shocked me. They entered the contest full of confidence following a four-match winning sequence and boasting one of the best defensive records in the division. Not for one minute did I think a team fighting for survival would blow them away with such ease.

How wrong I was.

It was a rare off day, prompting Carvalhal to accuse his players of being complacent. He had a point. Too many stars put in their worst displays in Owls colours. You can maybe carry one or two players. Not six.

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Their Bristol trouncing should help sharpen a few minds for the run-in.

There is no hiding the fact that Wednesday have struggled, at times, against the lesser lights this season. Three of the bottom four have turned them over. MK Dons will be chasing the double when they visit Hillsborough next week. If the Owls fail to secure a play-off spot, that will be partly why they will have fallen short.

But the major positive for Wednesdayites who travelled back from Ashton Gate on Saturday night or followed their fortunes back in S6 was that no damage was done regarding the race to seal a top-six finish. The chasing pack didn’t capitalise on Wednesday’s hammering and there is one match fewer to be played.

Cardiff City, the Owls’ nearest challengers, lost late on at Fulham. Ipswich Town and Birmingham City also failed to significantly close the gap. Wednesday can all but end Ipswich’s fading promotion aspirations by claiming maximum points tomorrow.

At this stage of the season, you would much rather be in the Owls’ position and have a five-point cushion with five matches remaining. They are in control of their destiny and Cardiff have still got to come to Hillsborough. It is theirs to lose.

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