A dozen points down but certainly not out – Interview
Thursday, 1st Oct 2020 13:50 by Clive Whittingham
Our regular Sheff Wed correspondent Jon Hore hasn’t given up hope of the Owls escaping the drop in 2020/21 despite starting the season with a 12-point FFP deduction.
How was last season?
A promising start ended abruptly at Christmas and things went off a cliff from there, finishing in a horrible mess of Covid, goals conceded, endless defeats, EFL incompetence and a points deduction.
Is the 12 points fatal?
I wouldn’t say the 12 points is definitely fatal because there’s nothing about this league which says we shouldn’t be able to get to 60 points and give ourselves a chance. There’s still a lot of poor teams around who we’ll just need to be a bit more consistent than. It’s going to take a big turnaround in results and attitude from the second half of last season but I think by the end we’d reached rock bottom so the only way is up.
League results so far…
Opinion on Garry Monk?
I’m not Monk’s biggest fan so I’m hoping rather than expecting him to turn it around, and I’d say most of the fan base share this view. It’s a massive task but he deserves to be given a chance with his squad and the change in ‘mentality’ that he constantly bangs on about. The experience of working under a points deduction with Birmingham should be useful. He’s brought his own coaching team in now as well, so hopefully James Beattie can work a miracle and reverse Rhodes’ transformation from Championship goalscorer to the Tin Man.
Summer business concluded…
The most eye-catching signing is probably Izzy Brown who will take some of the creative workload off Bannan, and Chey Dunkley should add some steel and leadership at the back. We’ve brought in Josh Windass from Wigan for a small fee and Elias Kachunga on a free after he was released by Huddersfield. Both add much needed options in forward areas but we’ve been absolutely desperate for another striker after Forestieri, Fletcher, Nuhiu and Winnall all left in the summer and Cardiff’s Callum Paterson joined this week to add much needed physical presence up top.
Ins >>> Josh Windass, 26, AM, Wigan, £500k >>> Callum Paterson, 25, CF, Cardiff, £495k >>> Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, 19, AM, Man City, Undisclosed >>> Chey Dunkley, 28, CB, Wigan, Free >>> Elias Kachunga, 28, CF, Huddersfield, Free >>> Korede Adedoyin, 19, RW, Everton, Free >>> Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, 19, CM, Man City, Undisclosed >>> Izzy Brown, 23, AM, Chelsea, Loan
Outs >>> Connor Kirby, 21, DM, Harrogate, Free >>> Morgan Fox, 26, LB, Stoke, Free >>> Steven Fletcher, 33, CF, Stoke, Free >>> Fraser Preston, 22, RW, Boston, Free>>> Sam Hutchinson, 30, DM, Pafos (Cyprus), Free >>> Sam Winnall, 29, CF, Oxford, Free >>> Fernando Forestieri, 30, CF, Udinese >>> Atdhe Nuhiu, 31, CF, Nicosia, Free >>> Jack Stobbs, 23, CF, Released
How have you started the season?
Stand out players and weak links so far?
Our best player so far has probably been Luongo - he’s been playing in a ball-winning role at the base of the midfield three and been excellent in every game. The extended break has definitely helped in giving him time to get properly fit. Dom Iorfa is growing into a really good centre back and Tom Lees is looking back to something like his best. As mentioned earlier the weakness in the team are at wing back and up front. I wouldn’t say he’s been particularly bad but for the amount of the ball he gets we really need more going forward from Kadeem Harris. He’s been playing left wing back and while his energy is often important in getting us up the pitch he but just isn’t creating anything in the attacking third. The strikers haven’t actually played badly either, Windass in particular has looked sharp, but we really need a physical presence up there to be the focal point of the attack because all three of them will be much better playing off a target man.
How will you do?
It’s going to be tough and I’m definitely not expecting it to be pretty. We won’t be a free-scoring team so defensively we need to somehow revert to the form of the first half of last season. We’ve got good enough players to do that, and if we can then we’ve got a strong chance of getting to 60ish points and giving ourselves a shot of staying up.
It feels like the game on Saturday is absolutely massive for us and one we really need to win, so hopefully you’ll be as horrendous as you were at Loftus Road in July. It’s obvious but we’re in a position where we just need to start sticking points on the board, we can’t afford to have encouraging performances and not win games. Psychologically it feels important to get back to zero as soon as possible to maintain that belief and positive vibe around the team. If we don’t get a win and end up with four or five points from the first four games that will be disappointing return given the improvement in performances. I’m still cautiously optimistic about our chances of surviving but the black and white facts are that we’ve only won five out of our last 25 league games and that needs to turn around now if we’re going to have any chance. We’re looking more solid, we’ll compete in games and I don’t think this group will ever just turn it in but we’ve got the whiff of a team that will draw loads of games unless we can find that extra bit of something going forward.The Paterson deal was crucial, and hopefully another striker as well. If we can do that, and keep our midfield three fit, I think we’ve got a decent chance of doing enough to survive.
The Twitter @loftforwords, @j_ho9
Pictures – Action Images
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