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Could Behind Closed Doors Fixtures Be A Blessing In Disguise?

Without doubt, Garry Monk’s side have struggled in front of the Hillsborough faithful this season, more so than in recent years.

The Owls have just 16 home goals to their name this term, the lowest in The Championship, which has left supporters bewildered and often leaving the stadium before the 75th minute mark, particularly in recent months against Blackburn Rovers and Derby County.

However, quite what is going wrong may seem somewhat harder to put the finger on and may also be less obvious than one would imagine.

So far this season, at home Wednesday have won seven games, drawn five and lost six, already one more defeat than last term.

This has left Garry Monk’s side with a points per game of 1.44 at S6.

Meanwhile last term, the 2018/19 season, The Owls netted 34 times at home.

The contrast is even more stark when you compare the current home record to that of the 2016/17 season when Carlos Carvahal lead Wednesday to a fifth placed finish, that season Gary Hooper and co notched 37 times on home soil.

During what was such a successful spell at Hillsborough, The Owls recorded two points per game as they won 15 out of their 23 home encounters.

This suggests that the current crop of players in blue and white are not as fluent in the final third, perhaps not creating as many chances to put the ball in the back of the net, but this is not necessarily the case.

During the second season of Carlos Carvahal’s reign when 37 home goals were scored Wednesday only had 13 shots per game.

Compare that to this campaign and the Hillsborough faithful have seen an average of 14.46 shots per game, this may surprise many Wednesdayites who have endured some dull football when they have ventured through the turnstiles this season.

Of course, this implies it is not the creation of chances that are lacking but the clinical edge in front of goal.

While Steven Fletcher has shone throughout the season with 13 goals to his name, the Scotsman is alone at the top of the goalscoring charts with Jacob Murphy being the second highest scorer with a tally of just five.

The fact the chances have been made, but have not been taken as often as Wednesday fans would like may have something to do with the increased pressure that reigns down from the frustrated stands.

It goes without saying that when fans and players alike are pulling in the same direction, Hillsborough can be a fortress that cannot be matched across English football.

However, three years on from the last play-off campaign and supporters are becoming increasingly irate at paying Premier League prices that are not reciprocated by on-field displays.

The desperation to get back to the promised land is clear for all to see and it would be impossible for this not to transcend to the 11 players on the pitch, hence the desperation when the team is in front of goal.

With tensions growing on The Kop, North and South stands perhaps it may help the current squad to play without the negativity of the punters flowing around them.It may especially help the state of mind of players such as Connor Wickham who is yet to score in his third loan spell with the club, his contribution could prove vital as Steven Fletcher is currently experiencing injury niggles.

As unlikely as it sounds, playing in an empty stadium may also help the confidence of Jordan Rhodes if he was to get another chance, the desperation all Owls fans have for him to finish chances is greater than any other player.

We have seen in the Bundesliga that home advantage has largely disappeared with only 21.7% of games ending in a home win. However, behind closed doors fixtures have worked in favour of Hertha Berlin for example.

They ply their trade at the Olympiastadion, on average it is 65.9% full, similarly Hillsborough has been 59.7% full on average this term.

This may work in favour of Garry Monk and his squad to turn the fortunes of a side that has seen its form and confidence plummet since Christmas.

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Unread article 15/06/2020 at 10:44

BenWoodcock_23

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