Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Time for the Owls to throw off the shackles

Jordan Rhodes
Jordan Rhodes

When the Owls remove the shackles and take the game to the opposition from the off, they look a very good, accomplished side.

The main issue is they haven’t done that too often this season.

They made a positive start against Birmingham City but couldn’t sustain it.

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When they finally played with freedom and verve versus Brentford in midweek, it was too little, too late. The damage was done in the first half.

It was a disappointing defeat and the Owls missed a big opportunity to put some daylight between themselves and the other top six hopefuls.

But it is not all doom and gloom. They still have a healthy six point cushion over seventh-placed Fulham, although the Cottagers do have a game in hand.

There is no disputing, however, that head coach Carlos Carvalhal has turned them more into a functional, workmanlike outfit. Despite spending big money on attacking talents such as Adam Reach and Jordan Rhodes, Wednesday are not as entertaining to watch as they were last campaign.

It was telling when thousands of Wednesdayites voiced their displeasure in the first half at Wigan Athletic by chanting ‘Attack, attack, attack.’ Some supporters have grown tired of their slow, methodical play.

Carvalhal is right when he says it is impossible for teams to play well every week. There are times when the pragmatic approach is required.

“I didn’t see Middlesbrough, Burnley and Hull doing fantastic performances all of last season,” he stated after the Birmingham City triumph.

“If you ask me if I want us to play fantastic football from the first minute to last, everybody wants that but this competition is not like that.

“Sometimes you play well and open your team and concede a goal and then it can be a problem.”

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Wednesday have learned to be cuter with their game management, but the wins have papered over the cracks. The Brentford slip up had been coming.

Sometimes you do have to grind out results but the manner of some, not all, of their Hillsborough wins have left a lot to be desired. They are not thumping teams anymore and the fans have every right to expect better from Carvalhal’s expensively assembled squad.

The Owls conceded two sloppy goals from set plays against Brentford but it has not generally been their defending that has let them down this season. It is the lack of goals that has hurt them.

By the same token, I’m sure most Wednesday fans would probably take a boring 1-0 win at Leeds United tomorrow lunchtime. Every point will be vital in the promotion run-in. It would just be nice if they could be successful playing with a little more style.

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