So far…not so good
The joys of football. November is almost upon us, and Sheffield Wednesday have still to register a victory. Bristol City and Sunderland are the only other teams without a league victory in the entire country; however they have both won cup matches this term.
We’ve had our chances; some might say we have been unlucky. We’ve not suffered many defeats in that time. Birmingham aside, all losses have been by a single goal. The stark reality is that if we don’t see an improvement in results very quickly, a return to League One looks ominous.
Eleven games in, we’ve seen enough to make some judgements on the squad and the season so far.
We’ve got the basis of a good team when everyone is fit. If we’d had this group of players since pre-season, I’m pretty sure we would have at least one victory on the board. Stephen McPhail, Matt Fryatt and Roger Johnson have added some quality to the squad, but their arrivals in September left them playing catch-up.
The latter two especially, did not have an ideal preparation for the season. They now have games under their belts and should kick on.
There is a chance that Matt Fryatt may not be with us much longer. His parent club Hull City have striker Danny Graham out for a few weeks. Even If they don’t recall him, other higher placed Championship clubs seem to be sniffing around. To lose him would be a big blow, especially as we still need another striker with him in the squad.
The back five are playing OK. I still have some reservations about Kamil Zayette, who was preferred to Miguel Llera in our last trip to Bolton. With Chris Kirkland, Lewis Buxton, Reda Johnson and Roger Johnson, we have good players who can more than compete at this level. I’d prefer Llera to Zayette, but I think the manger will continue to chop and change between the two of them.
In terms of our wide men, Jacques Maghoma has had a difficult transition following his summer move from Burton and has played a bit part role. Jermaine Johnson has been in and out of the team through form and suspension. Jeremy Helan seems to be improving as the season develops. I’ve mentioned this before and I continue to believe we have not seen the best of Michail Antonio this season. He has played in various positions. Hopefully a settled run on the wing might help improve his impact on games.
Central midfield remains an area of concern. McPhail has added some guile which was sorely lacking earlier in the season. Rhys McCabe seems have fallen out of favour and Liam Palmer is back on the side-lines after showing some early season promise. Giles Coke, David Prutton and Jose Semedo have jostled for a starting berth but none have convinced.
Losing Semedo for three matches following his harsh red card at Bolton is bad news though, as the South Yorkshire derby against Barnsley this weekend is his type of game.
Up front, Atdhe Nuhiu has struggled to hold down a starting place. Gary Madine has troubles off the field and I’m unsure whether Chris Maguire is injured or unfancied. For me, here lies our main problem. A failure to score convert chances to seal much needed victories.
Whilst the sacking season of mangers is well underway, Dave Jones remains at the helm of our club.
Milan Mandaric gave an interview this week where he talked about his continued commitment to the club. I didn’t doubt it; he has been open and honest with us since day one.
It helps to hear from the chairman through difficult times and amid continued takeover speculation, however even that seems to be off the cards at the moment. It was interesting that he didn’t talk much about the manger during that 10-minute interview.
He’s stuck with him this far, and I don’t think he wants to replace him, however if Milan thinks a change of manager is the right thing to do, I don’t doubt for a second that he will act.
So we head up the M1 to Barnsley this weekend for a game live on Sky. They managed to leapfrog us last weekend with victory at home to Middlesbrough. Last season, our trip to Oakwell saw a change in fortunes as we ended a torrid winless run despite a poor performance. A repeat this year is desperately needed.
Chris O’Grady will be out to show Dave Jones he was wrong to show him the Hillsborough exit door. It’s inevitable that he will score, but as long as we score more, that won’t matter a jot.
As the chairman has said, it’s time stick together and get behind the team. It’s going to be a tough old season but there is plenty of football to be played and we always have hope.
Starting this weekend – three points please!
Up the Owls.