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Could Sheff Wed's bleak midwinter yet have a happy ending? - Interview
Thursday, 8th Apr 2021 16:52 by Clive Whittingham

At the end of a long, hard, bleak season, Steve from the War of the Monster Trucks independent Sheff Wed fanzine hopes that surprise recent wins against Barnsley and Cardiff may yet help haul the hapless Owls to safety.

I’ve got to ask where the name of the fanzine came from…

War of the Monster Trucks came from the 1991 League Cup Final when we beat Man Utd 1-0 (last team from outside the top division to win a major trophy). The game was broadcast live on ITV, who at that time were split into regional stations. The team collected the trophy and were just about to set off on the lap of honour when our region, Yorkshire Television (lovers of all things Leeds), cut the programme off and were the only ITV region to do so! Instead of the lap of honour they broadcast a cheap American import programme called War of the Monster Trucks……Even Granada – Man Utd region – didn’t do that! Had it been Leeds Utd of course… ITV have never been forgiven, and never will be.

Was this season of struggle to be expected or has it been worse than we thought? Why has it gone so badly?

We set off with a 12 points deduction and expected it to be difficult. We started quite well but confidence, performances and results quickly fell away – we just struggled to create chances and score goals. We have lost every game in which the opposition has scored first. Despite having the penalty reduced to six points it has been worse that we expected it would be. The losses to teams around us were miserable performances and results. There are still some good players in the squad but they are so inconsistent and mentally weak. They are like a bunch of difficult teenagers who need an inspirational teacher and mentor to motivate and interest them in their jobs. Add to all this a very difficult relationship with the club owner, the pandemic and its effects, and it’s been a horrendous season so far.

League results so far…
Cardiff 0-2 Sheff Wed Windass 4, Rhodes 44
Sheff Wed 0-0 Watford
Bristol City 2-0 Sheff Wed Rowe 59, Paterson 90
Sheff Wed 1-1 QPR Barbet og 55 – Bonne 90
Birmingham 0-1 Sheff Wed Bannan pen 49
Sheff Wed 1-2 Brentford Paterson 25 – Toney 7, 30
Sheff Wed 0-1 Luton Ruddock-Mpanzu 74
Rotherham 3-0 Sheff Wed Lindsay 5, 45, Barlaser pen 40
Wycombe 1-0 Sheff Wed Wheeler 45
Sheff Wed 1-0 Bournemouth Bannan pen 71
Sheff Wed 0-0 Millwall
Preston 1-0 Sheff Wed Barkhuizen 48
Swansea 1-1 Sheff Wed Ayew 60 – Reach 27
Sheff Wed 0-0 Stoke
Sheff Wed 1-1 Reading Paterson 12 – Joao 44
Norwich 2-1 Sheff Wed Martin 81, Aarons 84 – Windass 60
Huddersfield 2-0 Sheff Wed Koroma 11, Mbenza 24
Sheff Wed 1-2 Barnsley Windass 4 – Woodrow 14, Friser 37
Forest 2-0 Sheff Wed Ribeiro 4, Grabban 87
Sheff Wed 1-0 Coventry Lees 67
Blackburn 1-1 Sheff Wed Rothwell 76 – Reach 41
Sheff Wed 2-1 Boro Paterson 30, Shaw 40 – Watmore 49
Sheff Wed 1-0 Derby Paterson 61
Coventry 2-0 Sheff Wed Gyokeres 57, Allen 90
Sheff Wed 1-0 Preston Palmer 45
Bournemouth 1-2 Sheff Wed Stanislas pen 66 – Paterson 44, Rhodes 90
Millwall 4-1 Sheff Wed Zohore pen 39, Malone 68, Thompson 69, Romeo 90 – Paterson 10
Sheff Wed 2-0 Wycombe Rhodes 34, Reach 76
Stoke 1-0 Sheff Wed Fletcher 83
Sheff Wed 0-1 Birmingham Hogan 63
Brentford 3-0 Sheff Wed Mbeumo 23, Ghoddos 74, Sorensen 83
Luton 3-2 Luton Naismith 50, Tunnicliffe 58, Adebayo 86 – Windass 6, 42
Sheff Wed 1-2 Rotherham Olosunde og 82 – Smith 17, Ladapo 90
Reading 3-0 Sheff Wed Olise pen 30, Joao 65, Yiadom 88
Sheff Wed 1-2 Norwich Rhodes 7 – Pukki 61, Cantwell 77
Sheff Wed 1-1 Huddersfield Windass 36 – Paterson og 72
Barnsley 1-2 Sheff Wed Morris 78 – Rhodes 38, 53
Watford 1-0 Sheff Wed Lees og 7
Sheff Wed 5-0 Cardiff Borner 4, Paterson 20, Reach 23, 69, Rhodes 65

What was the whole Tony Pulis thing about? Why didn't that work? Why such a short period of time?

When the owner appointed him it was either going to go one of two ways; Pulis would be given free rein to reshape the club, or it would all go wrong very quickly. It was the latter. Apparently the players didn’t like him or his methods and his public comments indicated he didn’t rate them much either. And when the January transfer window produced capacity to make just two free agent signings the relationship with the owner went west – he’s on record as saying he sacked Pulis before Pulis could resign. A massive mistake – we shudder to think what the costs might be.

What do you make of the Darren Moore appointment?

He had a good go at keeping West Brom in the Premier League and he was unlucky to be sacked in the Championship when they were doing ok. He’s also done quite well in League One at Doncaster. So, given the mess the club is in we did well to attract him to leave a promotion campaign at Doncaster for our special shit show. He has made a decent impression so far. The word is that the players like him and trust him and given our players that’s a decent base to build from. If he doesn’t keep us up he won’t get the blame for it and hopefully knows League One so he might be able to put us in with a chance of promotion.

Any weak links in particular to point out?

Inconsistency and mentality are the two biggest weak links, easily. I would have said goal scoring, but seven goals in three games seems to undermine that. We have developed a penchant for accumulating red cards for stupid and unnecessary challenges this season too.

Player of the year candidates?

There are not many it has to be said. Tom Lees has been our most consistent defender. Barry Bannan the best midfielder. Josh Windass has done ok up front too. If we score a goal that keeps us up that player will probably get it though, even if it’s an own goal. The final candidate could be Nick De Marco the barrister who got the points deduction reduced from 12 to six. I think he is a QPR fan.

Summer 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 >>> Jack Marriott, 26, CF, Derby, Loan >>> Aden Flint, 31, CB, Cardiff, Loan

Summer 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, Free >>> Atdhe Nuhiu, 31, CF, Nicosia, Free >>> Jack Stobbs, 23, CF, Grantham, Free

Winter Ins >>> Sam Hutchinson, 31, CM, Pathos, Free >>> Andre Green, 22, RW, Charlton, Free

Winter Outs >>> N/A

Certainly looked alright against Cardiff, and the fixtures aren't toooooo bad, what are your survival chances? Think you'll do it?

We are up against it. We need to win at least four out of seven games and hope that two out of the five teams above us collapse a bit. It doesn’t look likely, but you never know. If the players can maintain the level of performance they showed against Cardiff, or at least something like it, they have the ability to get results. The massive question is whether consistency and mentality allow that to happen. At least we have a bit of hope now – but as we know it’s the hope that does you in.

Consequences of relegation? Finances etc.

If we go down it will be for the third time this century so we know how difficult it will be – but it will be even more difficult given the possible affects on attendances etc caused by the pandemic. We will lose £6-£7m in TV income, plus reduced attendances etc. The owner sold the ground to himself to try to avoid a points deduction but got the process wrong and we got a points deduction anyway. But that transaction means the club will be paying out £2.5m a year in rent to play at the stadium which will be a big chunk of significantly reduced income. We have a dozen players out of contract so that will help create some breathing space though. We fear the consequences of relegation will be very challenging with the major hope being Darren Moore – if he is allowed free rein to get on with the job.

Links >>> Sheff Wed Official Website >>> Sheffield Star – Local Paper >>> London Owls – Blog >>> Owls Talk – Message Board >>> War Of The Monster Trucks – Fanzine

The Twitter @loftforwords, @SheffWedWOTMT

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francisbowles added 10:02 - Apr 10
Great story about the fanzine, Steve and thanks for the insight. From a personal pov, I hope that you and Brum are both relegated purely to do with how lightly you have been treated with regard to FFP as opposed to our own experience. Do hope you bounce back though, with Darren Moore who seems a decent man.

What's the story with Sam Hutchinson. To Cyprus and back a few months later in a pandemic?

francisbowles added 11:26 - Apr 10
Clive Luton 3 Luton 2 is an interesting result. Not much chance of any points for Wednesday there! lol

TacticalR added 14:14 - Apr 10
Thanks to Steve.

Sounds like a miserable season. Interesting to hear why Pulis didn't work out - I wonder if his managerial days are numbered. Chansiri seems to be one of those activist owners who thinks he knows much better than everybody else.

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