Sixer’s Sheffield Wednesday Soapbox: not enough to pass the test but A for effort

Malcolm Dawson writes……..there were plenty of positives to take from last night’s game, both on and off the field.

Off the field the new administration’s decision to seat the majority of fans in the East Stand made economic and logistical sense as well as projecting a better image to the watching television audience and creating a better atmosphere for the players to respond to. It is no secret that the club’s finances need careful husbandry and by reducing the number of turnstile operators, stewards and people manning the bars and refreshment kiosks there must have been substantial savings made for a fixture that rarely sees the ground one quarter full. It was last night, and though the vast majority of seats were empty, by concentrating the spectators in a smaller area the impression was of a less sparsely filled stadium. As it happens the crowd of 13,000+ wasn’t bad for a Carabao Cup fixture which included a good turn out of Wednesday fans. Not sure I saw any police presence either.

Those that were there were generally supportive and appreciative of the style of play, application and effort that Jack Ross and his squad seem to be adopting. At least that was how it was around me, notwithstanding a couple of blokes in the row behind, who after Ozturk’s part in the first goal decided that they would complain about him at every opportunity, even when it was the similarly bearded Jack Baldwin who was at fault. Well I suppose 15 looks like a 5. No negative vibes for Cattermole that I noticed either.

When Flanagan, Wyke, McGeouch Sinclair and Watmore are all fit to play, the manager will have many more options at his disposal than the rather limited choice he has at the moment. When I spoke to Pete Sixsmith as we made our way back to our respective cars we agreed that there was much to encourage us from the performance and here as always Pete brings us his insightful and articulate take on last night’s proceedings. 

THE VIEW FROM THE FRONT – SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

As part of the club’s newly found and entirely worthy desire to stop haemorrhaging money, the only part of the ground open for home fans for this game was the East Stand.

Consequently, the 12,000 or so Sunderland supporters who pitched up for this one were all sat together making it look like one of those reserve games from the early days of the Stadium when large crowds turned up to thrill at the sight of Neil Wainwright, John Oster and Milton Nunez.

My ticket moved me from Row 31 to Row 6 and from the North side to the South side and I enjoyed it. I was closer to the players and, although I could not see the game unfold as well as I can from my loftier perch, that (relative) intimacy is enjoyable. Of course, it’s not quite the Clock Stand Paddock. There is no clear view of the players calves, no Jeremy Robson barracking Tony Morley to the extent that he started to cry, no Ray (the man with the necklace made of proper nails) or the sight of David Speedie and Gary Bennett wrestling on the track with Benno desperately trying to stop Speedie from going over the fence, thereby preventing him from being torn apart by the frenzied occupants of the aforementioned paddock.

Nostalgia – not what it used to be.

Nostalgia out of the way, what about the game? Twelve months ago, we huffed and puffed to beat Bury at Gigg Lane in this competition with a team that we thought might just have the makings of a promotion side. This time we turned in a performance that was as fluent as the Bury one was disjointed and went out. C’est la vie.

There were some encouraging signs.

Reece James, fresh from his 45 minutes in the Under 23’s on Monday, made an impressive debut. He was energetic, pushed forward well, defended equally competently and looked a good replacement for Bryan Oviedo at left back.
He was aided and abetted at right back by Denver Hume, who becomes the first player to be named after a U.S city since Poughkeepsie Wilson in the 1920’s and the Greek winger Syracuse Papadopoulos in the early 2000’s. He has grown over the summer and, although he may be behind one or two in the pecking order, a good loan to a Division Two/ National League club where he will be playing regularly will help him to progress even more.

Ditto Elliot Embleton, a candidate for the FIFA goal of the season, who showed that he has an eye for a pass, that he can tackle and that he too has a future. Two good products of the Academy there. More please. He benefited from being alongside Lee Cattermole, who turned in the kind of performance that must have delighted Jack Ross and made any watching scouts think very carefully about revising their opinions of him. He conserved his energy, did simple things well and left to a warm round of applause from the faithful. He may well have a role at the club despite his astronomical wages.

Steady and sensible. A starter v Scunthorpe?

The running that he usually does was done by Max Power who made a good home debut, while his fierce tackling was done by Luke O’Nien who had a much better game than he had against Charlton. He followed in Cattermole’s footsteps by being booked for his third careless tackle and missing a good chance to equalise just before half time. He will have an important role to play as the season unfolds.

Some of the football was very pleasing on the eye and these players have been brought to the club to match the style that Jack Ross wants to play. That in itself is revolutionary for a club that had no discernible pattern or style for years and appeared to sign players for no good reason other than nobody else wanted them.

We know where the problems are.

There is a serious shortage of goals in the team and that was exacerbated in the absence of Josh Maja from the starting X1. Chris Maguire worked hard on his own and the midfield players tried to get up there to help him, but our threats were limited. The fitness of Wyke and Sinclair are essential for us and we may be able to hang on until they are ready without having to make another loan signing.

Unfortunately, there was one weakness on the night and that was Alim Ozturk, who followed up his shaky performance against Charlton with one that resembled a jelly caught in an earthquake. His dithering over a long ball in the 29th minute allowed Matias to score and he was understandably nervous after that. He may improve but needs to be aware that many in the crowd need a scapegoat and he looks to be a prime candidate.

The general consensus as we filed out was that Sunday’s game against Scunthorpe was of far more significance than a Tuesday night against Wolves. There will be a different side on show then and, we hope, a different result. But on a day when A level results were published, we come away from this game with a decent B grade with more rigorous tests to come.

Sixer’s Sheffield Wednesday Seven: out but not disgraced

Pete Sixsmith was not to be found in the matchday (matchnight?) programme for the League Cup game against the Owls. But he was present for a 2-0 defeat in which there was plenty to admire in Sunderland’s performance. He reckoned we played some really nice football before poor Ozturk’s awful error in the first half allowed Sheff Wed to go ahead against the run of play. The result was sealed with a second Owls goal near the end. Another redeeming feature? Sixer’s first SAFC programme article should be in Sunday’s edition, for the return to League One vs Scunthorpe. This, however, is his first, succinct verdict on tonight’s exit from th EFL/Carabao/League Cup …

Read moreSixer’s Sheffield Wednesday Seven: out but not disgraced

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Team (in the League Cup): Sheffield Wednesday

John McCormick writes:

Pete Sixsmith wrote about Sheffield Wednesday last season, as you no doubt remember. Today he makes a brief return to that fine old club and the only time we’ve played them in the League Cup. There’s not much more for me to say, given the circumstances of that meeting, as I’m sure you’ll agree when you read Pete’s account of what is, after all, only a game:

Read moreThe First Time Ever I Saw Your Team (in the League Cup): Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday Who are You?: ‘League One might be good for you. We should know’

Dave Briggs, Big Apple

Monsieur Salut writes: at around this time last season, Dave Briggs* gave us some great responses as a Sheffield Wednesday supporter before Sunderland’s trip to Hillsborough for a Championship game. He also got the result spot-on, saying we’d be ahead at the interval but they’d equalise and the match would end 1-1. Now the Owls are the fancied higher-league opposition – sorry, Eric, but technically the case – we went back to see how he was getting on. Dave would ‘like to think’ there’ll be a comfortable victory for his side, but accepts that team changes mean it could probably go either way. On the other hand, he fancies Sunderland’s promotion chances but is more pessimistic about the Owls’ Championship season, not least because of the impact of FFP transfer restrictions …

Read moreSheffield Wednesday Who are You?: ‘League One might be good for you. We should know’

SAFC vs Sheffield Wednesday prize Guess the Score: we’re the underdogs

Jake: ‘roll up, roll up for the famous Salut! Sunderland Guess the Score competition’

It is a fact of life as we find it, says Monsieur Salut. Sunderland start the Carabao Cup tie (league cup to you and me) against the Owls on Thursday night as lower-league underdogs.

While we all hope that situation will last for only one season – unless, contrary to the expectations of many of their own fans – Sheff Wed reach the Premier League, we have to regard them as, for now, the bigger team if hardly the bigger club.

Supporters are often divided on the merits of a good league cup run. The paltry attendances in early rounds bear witness to a fair degree of apathy.

My view is a simple one: I want Sunderland to win every game they play. It doesn’t happen, but that’s how I approach each match. So I’m rooting for a good, confidence-boosting result that takes us through to the next round.

Read moreSAFC vs Sheffield Wednesday prize Guess the Score: we’re the underdogs

Will Cardiff or Fulham join Wolves, and will Derby join Villa and Middlesbrough?

no slide rule needed

This will be my final dodgy numbers post of the season. (If you haven’t seen the previous ones you can follow the link above, and/or those below). There is still a game to go, and two questions remain unanswered, but we can now look at the league table and judge how well our start of season pundits did. Their choices for the top six spots, in order of popularity were: Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Fulham, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland.

Three out of six, and wrong about the top two. Is that a “not bad” verdict or something worse? 

Read moreWill Cardiff or Fulham join Wolves, and will Derby join Villa and Middlesbrough?

Sixer’s Soapbox: Sheffield Wednesday make for a depressing Bank Holiday Monday

Malcolm Dawson writes…….there was no Northern League today. A light dusting of snow early morning and a whole heap of surface water all around the North East ensured the Bank Holiday Monday morning fixtures had no chance of going ahead. There were cash turnstiles at the Stadium of Light so was I tempted to go. I hate to say it but no I wasn’t. I hadn’t let Friday’s result fill me with optimism. I was moved, if that’s the right word, by the manager’s appeal to fans to get behind the team and the club’s willingness to put it so prominently on the website. Perhaps after years of treating us with disdain, those who have been charged with struggling to keep the club as a going concern, are trying to limit the damage which is the result of a clueless and now absentee and disinterested landlord. I take no pride in what some will see as a desertion, but sometimes I feel you have to acknowledge that when a relationship has lost its lustre it’s time to walk away.

Pete Sixsmith though was there and his report does nothing to convince me that I should have been there too. 

Sixer proving that fine words butter no parsnips

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (HOME)

And that, as they say, is it! We hoped that our time in the Championship would be short and it most certainly has been. This latest defeat is the killer and the one that puts us down. Should a resurgent Birmingham City win at Bolton tonight (Tuesday) we can order the sackcloth and ashes safe in the knowledge that they will be donned at Fulham and at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

This was by no means our worst performance of this dismal season. The players were up for it, they looked comfortable and confident for the first hour or so and they played some decent football. Cattermole and McNair were in control of the midfield, Honeyman and Gooch scampered around as only they know how and there was some threat from McGeady. After a shaky start, Wilson settled in and along with O’Shea we looked solid at the back against a Wednesday side that seemed to play everything through Barry Bannon.

But we didn’t score. Love put one over the bar, the keeper made a smart save from a McGeady free kick and there were a couple of occasions when the ball bounced around in their box. We needed to take the lead and put them firmly on the back foot. The longer it went goalless, the more worried I got and it came as no surprise when our defence collapsed in the face of three crosses and conceded three goals, goals that we are oh so familiar with.

The Sunderland back 4 don’t like crosses

Ball knocked into the box, ball either headed straight into the net or laid off for an unmarked opponent to slide it into the net. Goalkeeper looks at defenders. Defenders look at goalkeeper. Crowd groans and thinks about what they might be having for tea.

We did equalise through Honeyman and straight from the restart as well. That gave us a foothold in a game that we simply had to win and I thought that Chris Coleman missed a trick here. Matthews for Oviedo was like for like (Oviedo was injured) but a change from five in midfield to three and two up front might just have paid dividends.

As it was, Gooch, the man likeliest to come off, gave away a needless free kick from which The Owls scored. Despite Cattermole hitting the post and referee Simon Hooper (how did he pass his fitness test? He looked fatter than me….) turning down what looked like a very strong penalty appeal, they closed the game out when the Kosovan giant Atdhe Nuhiu headed in to bang yet another nail in the coffin.

To be honest dear reader, I am getting sick and tired of droning on about the same old deficiencies week in and week out. No doubt you are equally s and t of reading them. I shall go to Leeds on Saturday and will take in the Norwich and Burton home games. Reading and Fulham are off the agenda and, should we be down (99% certain), I shall probably not bother with the Wolves game.

I had hoped for a season in the middle of the Championship to consolidate under Simon Grayson but like most supporters, had no idea of the real state that the club was/is in. Two managers, both with decent reputations, have utterly failed to halt the slide of a famous old club that represents a passionate part of the footballing world but is now laughed and sniggered at by those who think themselves our betters.

I have renewed my ticket for next year, principally because I would not know what to do on a Saturday afternoon. But it could well be my final year as I have great fears that the slide is not over and there may well be worse ignominies to come.

I think we went on Monday half expecting to kick on – and half expecting to slip back. As usual it was the latter. Burton, Barnsley and ourselves will be the three to drop into The Land of the Checkatrade Trophy. For the two B’s it is not unknown territory. For us it is. We could be playing in it for a long, long time.

Sixer’s Sevens: Awful Defending Gives Sheffield Wednesday the Game

Jake: ‘it’s not always pretty’

You might notice the headline has seven words. You might think Pete Sixsmith sent them. You would be wrong.

Pete’s own seven words, sent immediately post match, convey pretty much the same sentiment, only more emphatically, and they spell out the implications for Sunderland rather than for Sheffield Wednesday:

Read moreSixer’s Sevens: Awful Defending Gives Sheffield Wednesday the Game

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Team: Sheffield Wednesday

Pete Sixsmith then (not so long ago) … he’s a lot trimmer now

John McCormick writes:  I visited the Statcat to check if we played Sheffield Wednesday in 1968 as I had memories of their supporters in the back room of the Cambridge when I was still an underage drinker. I found I could have been out a year in either direction as we were in the same division as them for a number of seasons, and they even went down with us at the end of that decade. I reckon I would have been at most, if not all, of those home games.

But I’m pretty sure I wasn’t there in April 1965, unlike a certain Pete Sixsmith:

Read moreThe First Time Ever I Saw Your Team: Sheffield Wednesday

SAFC vs Sheffield Wednesday prize Guess the Score: can we do it again?

Guess the score and you may win a prize whoever you support

Seven games to go and after that resounding win at Derby on a very Good Friday, Sheffield Wednesday are the Easter Monday visitors to the Stadium of Light.

For once, it looks as if we may have to do without a Who are You? interview. Monsieur Salut did find a willing candidate. There’s a good reason why she may have overlooked it, or simply not found the time she expected to have: her dad, a lifelong Owls fan, died recently.

Read moreSAFC vs Sheffield Wednesday prize Guess the Score: can we do it again?