Big defeats – how well do Wednesday react?

Big defeats – how well do Wednesday react?

The humbling at the hands of Manchester City this week was The Owls’ biggest competitive defeat since Alan Shearer’s five helped Newcastle record an 8-0 hammering of Danny Wilson’s Wednesday in 1999.

Many of the post-match reflections on Wednesday were centred upon the possible detrimental effect that the loss could inflict on our excellent league form. Such a heavy defeat would affect the confidence of the Wednesday players, it was argued.

I thought otherwise. My initial convictions were that, while losing 7-0 is hardly an event for which vast numbers of positive outcomes can evolve, the defeat would have little or no impact on our league situation.

Shearer celebrates goal two of five in '99

Shearer celebrates goal two of five in ’99

Our players are human beings and surely aware of the fact that Manchester City, the highest-paid sports team in the world, were capable of putting seven past us. Our players are aware that they are technically inferior and physically weaker than their opposition; and are infrequently tested against such high-level players. We started the game with an unfit defender, a sub goalkeeper and centre half, and Gary Madine. We finished with ten men.

Nevertheless, in my search for something to do while the sun is up during my (third) fresher’s week, I delved into the historical statistics regarding Wednesday’s reactions to big defeats. I set the bar at four goal defeats. Three-goal defeats constitute a hammering in some cases, but cut me some slack, this is Wednesday we’re looking at.

There are eighteen such examples of four goal defeats in the past twenty seasons, with multiple such events naturally occurring in seasons culminating in relegation.

I then considered the reactions to these defeats – seven of which were positive, four indifferent, and seven negative. An even spread. The reactions were mostly judged against form over the next six games, or longer if applicable. For instance after the 5-0 home reverse to Wimbledon in 2000, Wednesday suffered a further seven straight league defeats.

Of the seasons Wednesday have been relegated, the side suffered four negative reactions out of a possible five, with the final defeat spurring a run under Alan Irvine during the 2009-10 season that almost, unfairly, saved a poor team from the drop.

Of the years we had a side enjoying either success or relatively security (94/5, 96/7, 08/09 and 11/12) – no defeat saw a negative reaction from the team. Indeed the defeat to Stevenage in 2011/12 triggered a terrific run that put Wednesday in a group of four markedly better sides in League 1, and led to an eventual promotion.

Also, a little further back in 91/92, Wednesday finished the season as the third best team in the country having been defeated 6-1 by Leeds, 7-1 by Arsenal, and suffered a double dose of Steel City derby defeat. Under the guidance of the better man-managers in Francis and Laws, Wednesday recovered their situation to better effect. Will this theme continue under Gray?

Harrowing memories are listed in the table below. Defeats to Newcastle, Exeter, Leyton Orient and Wimbledon probably top the pile.


A record of competitive ‘big’ defeats, 1994/5-2014

Back to today, we have a confident group of players led by a seasoned captain who will inspire a full-strength Wednesday (Lee and Hutchinson aside) to a positive response at Cardiff. Stuart Gray has received numerous plaudits in recent weeks regarding his management of individuals and will have his side fully focused on correcting the many second half defensive frailties at Eastlands.

Both the playing and coaching staff will be keen to keep a largely unblemished defensive copy-book in the Championship.

See you at Cardiff.

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Owls Alive

Twitter: @hugh_wragg and @OwlsAlive

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