Dom Howson column: It’s vital Sheffield Wednesday turnaround their away fortunes

Barry Bannan
Barry Bannan

Confidence should be coursing through the veins of Wednesday’s team following back-to-back home victories.

They had to do it the hard way but the Owls demonstrated serious character and fortitude to come from behind and defeat Wigan Athletic and Bristol City on their own turf.

Only in patches have Wednesday played anywhere near their potential but the team defied the odds to get the job done.

Certain players, such as Barry Bannan and Steven Fletcher, are starting to rediscover their best form. The offensive part of the Owls’ team is starting to come together.

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The defence is still a concern as they have failed to record a shut-out in any of their last five fixtures. For various reasons, there has been little continuity in selection at the back so far.

The key for the Owls now is to start replicating their impressive home results away from Hillsborough. Clubs can’t simply rely on picking up points in their own backyard if they want to challenge at the top end of the league. In the past five seasons, the clubs who have gained automatic promotion have won anywhere between 10 and 14 matches on the road.

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Boss Carlos Carvalhal has rightly earned praise for turning Hillsborough into a fortress. Only Middlesbrough, Rotherham United and Leeds United have left S6 with three points since the Portuguese chief’s surprise appointment.

But Carvalhal has yet to find a recipe for success to turnaround their away fortunes. When you break the numbers down, Wednesday’s record doesn’t look too clever:

*Carvalhal has won less than a quarter of his 31 away matches in charge.

*Wednesday managed just two victories last term on their travels against teams in the top half of the Championship. (Brentford and tomorrow’s opponents Birmingham City.)

*Only 27 of the 74 points the Owls accrued during the 2015/16 season came on the road.

It is true that Carvalhal has fielded weakened sides in some matches. The cup clashes with Shrewsbury Town and Cambridge United immediately spring to mind. So does Wolves on the final day of the regular season but they should still be doing better.

Everything is set up for Wednesday to be a good away team. They are cheered on by some of the best supporters in the land and boast one of their strongest squads in years. It’s high time the Owls started enjoying their away days more.

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