“The balance of the squad at the minute is not 100 per cent.”
Carlos Carvalhal made the startling admission in the wake of Wednesday’s disappointing defeat to Yorkshire rivals Leeds United.
Although Carvalhal’s team are a much better side than what they have shown in the last two outings, the Owls look disjointed.
Seven new arrivals have joined Carvalhal’s revolution over the summer, including Daniel Pudil and Vincent Sasso, who both spent last season loan at the Hillsborough outfit, and some of them are still adapting to Carvalhal’s style of play. Some of the recruits - Almen Abdi and Will Buckley - are still playing catch up fitness wise and lack match sharpness.
But Carvalhal refuses to use excuses for two mediocre performances on the spin. He knows the team have not been good enough.
His players have raised the bar so high over the last 12 months that it is a big surprise when their levels dip.
Yet Carvalhal doesn’t need reminding that the buck stops with him. A four-match winless run is not how he or people of a Wednesday persuasion wanted to kick-off the new season.
After shipping in five goals versus Burton Albion and Leeds United, Wednesday must tighten things up at the back, starting at Brentford on Saturday.
This is what Carvalhal should consider altering in his attempts to find the right dynamic:
1) Give the full-backs greater protection
So much of Wednesday’s width comes from Jack Hunt and Daniel Pudil. Carvalhal encourages them to bomb forward at every available opportunity.
That’s all well and good when the side are full of confidence and dominating matches. But neither Hunt nor Pudil have started the campaign well and had afternoons to forget against Burton and Leeds. Some of their decision-making has let them down but the duo haven’t received enough defensive support, with Burton and Leeds enjoying plenty of success on the flanks. It is essential, whoever plays on the right and left wings, doesn’t neglect their defensive duties.
2) Hand Buckley his full league debut
The time has come to unleash Buckley and give Ross Wallace a breather. He is an orthodox, direct winger who can take some of the pressure off Hunt. From what we have seen so far, Buckley doesn’t shirk his defensive responsibilities either.
Buckley impressed in their cup reversal at Cambridge United. His dribbling prowess stood out and he was desperately unlucky not to cap a fine individual performance with a goal.
Another full week of training will only benefit the 26-year-old, who is bidding to resurrect his career after two unsuccessful loan spells at Birmingham City and Leeds.
3) Try a new central midfield partnership
I would like to see David Jones partner Abdi in the middle of the park. Wednesday have paid good money for Jones, who has four promotions on his CV and hasn’t come to sit on the bench. Carvalhal’s charges lacked steel and aggression on Saturday so maybe he could be the answer.
Abdi is a versatile operator but let’s see what he can do in his favoured position. He looks wasted on the left.
It would mean leaving out Kieran Lee and switching Barry Bannan to the left but it is worth giving a go.