I think we can start the story of our dip with the dramatic 4-4 game against Huddersfield on 17th December. At the time, although being bitterly disappointed with the manner of the result, I didn’t see a point against a strong promotion contender was a bad result. The problem with this game I believe is psychological after conceding late goals. We have thrown away points since that game, and even when we have won, we still look on edge and don’t seem confident in seeing a game out even when we are two goals up.
A few games specifically stand out for me. Walsall, and to a lesser extent Exeter were games we should have seen out to at least a draw, if not a victory. We lost them both. Co-incidentally, in both those games we suffered injuries to centre backs who were having good games. There were elements of luck/skill by the opposition in both these games; however a team with aspirations of automatic promotion need to win these types of games.
The next game to consider is Charlton, which I believe was the next factor in our change in form as the team selection begged a few questions. This game was won by a piece of brilliance by Jonnie Jackson, but we never looked like getting anything from the game. Mike Jones was thrown in and given a full debut, having been at the club a matter of days, he struggled and has since struggled. It was Ben Marshall’s last game and he flattered to deceive and looked like his head was elsewhere. Gary Madine started after a 2 months out with injury and looked off the pace and there was no place for Jermaine Johnson on the bench, a match that was crying out for somebody like him to come on and change the dimension. Credit to Charlton, they were organised and showed why they will go up automatically.
The whole Marshall ‘will he stay’ saga did not help, and I was sad that we couldn’t keep him, however I think it was too much of a distraction. We still have players capable of doing a job without him, but they are not showing this at the moment. We’ve changed a winning team, partly enforced, mainly through choice. Chris Lines lost his place in the team for no apparent reason, we’ve played full backs in midfield, we’ve chopped and changed the back four, Ryan Lowe has been in and out of the team. Overall some of the recent team selections have proved baffling and the confidence of players has taken a knock.
The main positive has been Jermaine Johnson, who has stepped up to the plate and scored some wonder goals and played like we all know he can, but rarely does. The thing is it seems we are again relying on him. Gary Madine has failed to find any form since his return from injury, and almost sprinted off the pitch when subbed in our home defeat to Stevenage.
Now I’ve had my moan, I do believe Megson can turn it round, and I hope all fans get behind him and the team. I’m sure there will be more twists and turns before the season is out. There is expectancy, perhaps fuelled by Megson himself by referring to us as massive, so it’s time to prove ourselves. There’s no better time to do it. Our first ever trip to the B2Net stadium to face struggling local rivals Chesterfield, followed by the big one, when 37,000 will descend on Hillsborough for arguably the biggest Sheffield Derby since Wembley in 1993. The thought of losing that match doesn’t bear thinking about…so let’s hope it doesn’t happen!!
Up the Owls!
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