After two welcoming positive home wins against Bristol City and Mansfield Town respectively, a disappointing defeat to Ipswich and a lacklustre draw against Reading mean that, for me, as the season begins to unfold, strength and depth throughout the squad is key to success and a higher league finish after our somewhat steady start to the 2015-16 campaign.
Last season under Stuart Gray, we saw many players arrive on loan due to injuries and suspensions alike. This season has already provided us with eye-catching performances from new players, loanees and last season’s squad players…a very mixed bag of potential throughout the squad.
All players now know they have to make an impression due to new management, in other words…fighting for contracts already. This can only work in the club’s/fans’ favour going forward. Ultimately the ‘fight’ for first-team places may just generously see us push for the play-offs, or maybe higher?
Players may still be in expectation of departing and arriving at S6 over the next few weeks. Currently the Owls have a 27-man squad, 23 if you exclude goalkeepers, as opposed to last season’s 23-man squad, 21 excluding goalkeepers. Each and every player with acclaimed talent and individual merit very much has something to offer. Obviously I don’t want to get carried away with the prospects of a top-six finish at such an early stage. However, fresh faces means fresh legs which should mean more points on the board.
This campaign I believe we have talent in abundance with two or even three players to cover every position. Many examples include left-back – Wiggins, Helan and Dielna; defensive midfield – Semedo, Hutchinson and Melo; right wing – Wallace, Sougou and Lavery; and central/attacking midfield – Lopez, McGugan and Lee. (Let’s not get started on the strikers).
In seasons gone by we have found ourselves to be the team that has struggled, maybe losing points due to lack of strength and depth within the squad, especially when playing three fixtures over seven days. Not this season???
As the year progresses, league and especially cup competitions can take its toll on clubs down to the bare minimum in numbers. Injuries/suspensions and fatigued players also have a detrimental effect. Where Sheffield Wednesday seem to have answer to the problem solved in all aspects, then shouldn’t we expect to overtake or maintain a healthy lead over clubs with this issue in the table?
Furthermore, I can see a distinguished spine beginning to develop throughout central areas of the starting XI in Westwood, Lees and McGugan. Questionably, who will top that spine? Nuhiu? Joao? A new arrival? Either way, we have creative and spirited options in striker form and throughout the squad. Already we have seen Westwood miss game time over the last week. We need to keep the spine of the team physically fit/injury free over 90% of the season for us to progress.
Continual hard work and effort from the players, management, coaching staff and medical team will hopefully see us fit week in, week out providing us with a 27-man squad option for Carvalhal to take his pick.
Remember, although new to the country and untested in the UK, Mr Carvalhal and his coaching team are somewhat under more pressure than the players. Carlos, very much liked among Wednesdayites due to his drive, down to earth personality and friendly manner, can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk?
So Carlos, time for you to make these 27 Owls winners. Let’s progress on our steady start, do so and you can walk the walk long term at S6…..WAWAW