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Hoyland Corner…

Hey up folks, hope you all had a cracking Christmas and have welcomed in what will hopefully be a Happy New Year for you and your families.

For Wednesday, looking at things results wise only, we had a fantastic December going into 2017. Losing just once in seven games, winning four and drawing two but that doesn't really tell all the story. It's been a hiccup of a month performance wise, fans have left games grumbling at the entertainment on view and it's brought up that age old discussion of having to accept one or the other...The desire to be entertained or the need for points. It's often said that the two together can't really be bedfellows, but I don't think that's the case. We had it last season.... So where has it gone?

With almost an identical starting line up from what we had last season in some of the games, the football on show has been very different to 2016. Arguably that's where the grumbling comes from, what's changed? Why aren't the Wednesday side as seemingly positive in possession? Obviously the finger of 'blame' will be pointed at the coaching staff, the change of things will have been directed by Carlos Carvalhal and his team. But before you think I'm pouring scorn on them, some would say current performances are disastrous although I would say, ponderous is more of a fitting adjective to describe things in more ways than one.

The weight of expectation certainly is heavy this year, arguably supporters have not demanded success in a similar fashion since the early to mid nineties. Add things up and that demand isn't really a surprise, our highest finishing position in the League since the turn of the century, one game away from a return to the top division and last season's team who many said that was a signing or two away from being genuine promotion contenders. Steven Fletcher, Almen Abdi, Adam Reach, players who I'd argue most of the Championship would want them in their squad. Two of those players who have played in the Premier League and beyond, and the third is a player who was in demand from teams across our league. Fletcher is a quality player, no doubt, but has he scored as many as people would have hoped? Abdi has certainly disappointed so far in terms of his appearance count and opportunity and recently Reach has been criticised somewhat because it feels like some people's expectations were we'd signed a world class player because of his fee.

Are people wrong to expect more? No, not at all. Everyone wants more, we all crave success for our football club but make no mistake the players want success too. There's no lack of desire or ambition at Hillsborough, but it does feel like there are more questions than answers in front of us at the moment. When you look over the squad it's a little baffling where the answers to the questions are. It was widely mentioned by the supporters we needed another centre back in the summer after all the club had two centre backs, we brought in Vincent Sasso who while he is a decent squad addition it's not who people expected. BUT defensively we've not been bad at all there have been ten clean sheets so far this season, it's goals at the other end which are a problem. We were amongst the top scorers in the league last season, our attacking threats were pointed at being very potent and we've ADDED to that attack but it's not really come to fruition yet. Now we're in January the rumours of Jordan Rhodes start again, it's like Groundhog Day, until he signs for someone this month from Middlesbrough the link won't go away but again, it's the sign of who and where Wednesday are now that we are linked with him. Things are still promising at our football club.

It's annoying when people band around that 'happy clapper' description of fans who don't vociferously criticise, just because people have a more positive mindset it doesn't mean they're entirely happy with things. They just shape their criticism differently. So... Here we go.. I'll stick my head above the parapet.
What am I happy with? I'm happy with our league position we're 6th with over 60 points still available with 21 games to go. I'm happy with the results of late, how can you be disappointed with 18 points from the last 30 available? Averaging over 2points a game. There are comparisons thrown about that last season's team were better than this.

Well.... Ok, let's look at where we were on the 5th January 2016.

7th place in the Championship with 39 points. Won 10, drawn 9, lost 6 times. Scored 36 goals, conceded 28.

Right now Wednesday are in..

6th place in the Championship with 42 points, Won 12, drawn 6, lost seven. Scored 28 goals, conceded 24.

Whichever way you look at that, it's progress positionally and in points gained. The area supporters clamoured for bolstering was the defence but we're better off defensively, but in an attacking sense we're worse off and that is the area we've added to this season. It's odd really isn't it. The players that are currently berated in our attack from some fans, Atdhe Nuhiu and Lucas Joao, were part of a team which scored more goals, a team which realistically no one expected to get promotion but just progress from the year before. However, we've lost a huge part of last season and that is the form of Fernando Forestieri. He'd bagged 10 of our 36 goals at this point last season in 19 games... This season his record is six goals in 20. Is that the fault of the coaching staff too? Were his reasons for stepping away from the team against Norwich in the early part of the season the management's fault? I'm NOT piling the blame on Forestieri or the management, not at all, but just pointing out there are a number of reasons as to why things aren't the same. But the facts are there, we're better off than we were in the table. It's still progress.



People say this season we MUST challenge for promotion, some even saying we MUST be promoted. We're within grasp of the latter and we ARE in one of the places which gives us a shot at going up again. So we're hitting those targets. I completely get the desire for entertaining football, no doubt about that, it costs us more than enough to go and watch our football team. Everyone wants entertainment from anything you pay to watch. You wouldn't willingly pay for something that you knew was going to be turgid, boring or draining. It's often said that when things get difficult you see who will roll up their sleeves and fight for their cause, that's something which is always pointed at teams battling relegation but it can be the same up the top of the table. I can guarantee that Rotherham supporters would swap our month of unentertaining results for theirs!

But I will say we are in our own little battle against the demons, we've had injuries, a change of shape, maybe even a different ethos. It's not what people expect or want at the moment and as I say I understand that. Things are different but not disastrous. We've had function over form before in the shape of Stuart Gray's side, we were spoiled last season by Carlos' Wednesday and there have still been big glimpses of it again this season, in particular at Newcastle for example or away at Norwich when we were more than a match for them. We haven't hit the ground running at home and THAT for me is where things need to change although we've won one more than last season so far, we've also lost two more. We don't stamp our authority on home games like we did last year, we had an arrogance at home.

The pressure is off away from home, other clubs this season have had similar pressures in front of their own fans, the expectation from Newcastle fans was they'd beat us, there was an expectation they'd beat Blackburn but they didn't. But the difference is they have spanked a few sides this season too, we've not done that. Our potential has stayed a little locked away, that hammering we've been waiting for hasn't happened. If we're able to do that then I think things will change on and off the field. I do think the positivity will flow from the players and the stands. But the longer the wait goes on for that all round dominating performance goes on then the feeling that we're waiting for the players to inspire and like they're waiting for us to do the same for them, won't go away and it doesn't help anyone.

It's an odd situation which we haven't been in for a long time we're chasing a successive season of relative success, something that many clubs would only dream of, but that demand or expection for wins can both kill you and drive your team forward. We're in a weird crux which in my opinion could swing violently either way. January is a crucial month on and off the field for everyone, it's a month which could make the team, break the team, make the manager, destroy the manager (ok head coach). But I'll remain positive. As I said a little earlier, we're linked with the right standard of players which indicates how we're seen by others, players who have done it at this level, been successful at this level not players who are journeymen who've achieved nothing or not played at the top level.

After spanking Brentford 4-0 in early February last year, people were believing things were taking off, promotion was a genuine, achieveable ambition... Will that happen again in a few weeks? I sincerely hope so.

Cheers. 

Unread article 05/01/2017 at 11:00

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