OwlsAlive welcomes new contributors

OwlsAlive welcomes new contributors

Just as Carlos needs new recruits for his team, so do we here at OwlsAlive.

We were glad to receive the interest of a number of people over on Twitter and, as a result, we are welcoming five new members to the blogging team.

The standard of writing in their ‘applications’ (used in the loosest sense of the word) is excellent.

We really hope to take the site forward this season and provide some more great writing in the popular previews and rambles, as well as covering press events and breaking news.

You never know, we might kick on with a regular feature or two that we’ve been promising ourselves for years.

But for now, say hello and play nicely with new members Joe, Angela, Callum, Jonny and Peter.

Peter – “Charming Carlos must cope with a new kind of pressure”

Whenever I listen to Carlos Carvalhal speak I cannot help but to have the famous Smiths’ song “This Charming Man” lodged in my head.

Carlos oozes class, charisma and wit, as well as possessing an unerring sense of calm regardless of the outcome of a match.

It is those engaging qualities that have so endeared him to the Wednesday faithful, as has his willingness to openly communicate with supporters whether that be through public forums or his busy activity on Twitter.

Of course an unlikely run to the play-offs last season helped, as did a stylish brand of football helped by the guile and ingenuity of Forestieri, the vision and passing range of Bannan and the sheer doggedness of Kieran Lee.

The run to Wembley, the 40-odd thousand fans singing until they were blue in the face and the national recognition the club so rightly drew means that Wednesdayites have legitimate cause for optimism this season.

However, Carlos himself will be more aware than anyone that he faces a completely different type of pressure this time around.

He arrived at S6 in June 2015 as an unknown entity – or at least in this country – and with many questioning his credentials due to the amount of clubs on an enormous CV.

I always felt that particular criticism was somewhat misguided as is not uncommon for coaches on the continent to rack up a plethora of clubs in quick succession.

Regardless of the doubts, Carlos proved himself in an unfamiliar league and it was little surprise that the media links to the Premier League big boys soon reared their head.

Champions League winner Benitez will be in town

Champions League winner Benitez will be in town

This time around, though, Carlos must deal with that increased weight of expectation from the outside, and from a fan base and a chairman desperate for Premier League football.

Achieving that is no easy feat in a Championship that looks more daunting than ever, particularly from a Newcastle United side led by Rafael Benitez.

The squad is still a few players short, but the return of Pudil is a shrewd piece of business while if the Watford fans are to believed Wednesdayites will love Almen Abdi every bit as much, if not more, than our Italian maestro Forestieri.

Of course, the first true test comes against Aston Villa on August 7, a game that provides a perfect platform to make an early statement of intent.

Many coaches have suffered from the dreaded “second-season syndrome” in the past, but I for one fully believe that Carlos will keep us all dreaming and hopefully his, like another famous Smiths’ song, will be a light that never goes out.

Peter
@PeterHanson89

Angela – “Preview ramblings”

Ten games into the season there’s a pre-match punditry breakfast round at ours. Everyone stumps up a fiver and writes down where they think the Owls will end the campaign.

Last year I plumped for 7th – just missing out on the playoffs, probably by a single point, probably due to a last minute own goal. (Yes, I’ve been following Wednesday for a long time). I was delighted to be wrong.

Across the years, through all the leagues, not one of the breakfast pundits has ever backed a top of the table finish. After the unexpected highs of last season, will our kitchen see a flurry of fivers placed on one of the automatic promotion places for 2016/17?

More of the same or can Wednesday go one better?

More of the same or can Wednesday go one better?

Much was made of Wednesday not beating any of the teams that finished above us in 2015/16 (play offs aside). Derby and Brighton are still there to test us.

Will newly relegated Newcastle, Norwich and Villa be easier for Carlos to crack than Boro, Burnley and Hull were? Or will there still be five well organised teams above us at the end of the season?

Wembley was great but it showed up our flaws, particularly in the final third of the pitch. Fletcher could provide a different dimension and take some pressure off Forestieri. Will it be enough?

Chris Hughton has the tactical nous – and motivation – to cancel us out, home and away. And with Barnsley and others still seeing Hillsborough as a big day out, it’s strange to think that our opening game against Villa is already looking like a six-pointer.

So when this season’s pundit predictions are popped into the Russian doll of Lee Peacock for safekeeping, I might well be sticking with 7th place. But I reserve the right to change my mind…

Angela
@ABGalvin

Callum Drabble – Season preview 2016/2017

After the play-off final, it was clear that we are still a few players short of a real quality team, so the question on most people’s minds was ‘who should we sign?’

Wednesday have welcome Scottish international Fletcher

Wednesday have welcome Scottish international Fletcher

Steven Fletcher is our first and only signing so far (ed – written before the latest arrivals) and is clearly an added strength but since this the transfer activity at Hillsborough has become some what silent.

Now this may worry some but why should we be worried when we are welcoming back Matias and Melo.

With the short glimpses we saw of Matias at the beginning of last season and with a full pre season behind him it will feel as if we have gained a brand new player.

In my opinion, Melo has the potential to be our midfield general, a Semedo like player who offers an assured range of passing whilst maintaining that warrior spirit.

With this in mind, we still need a left back, left winger and centre back to bolster our promotion push.

This season, reaching the play-offs is a minimum but automatic promotion has to be the main goal.

Last year was a learning curve for all the back room staff; experiencing the play-offs and handling the pressure that comes with it will prove valuable to us this season. As a team we are already in a stronger position than last year with our star players having a full pre-season behind them.

New badge. New shirt. New players.

The 7th of August brings Villa to Hillsborough for the first time in 16 years and with optimism at an all time high we all embark on the 10 month emotional rollercoaster which is the Championship season, hoping and praying that come May 2017 we are proudly singing “We’re on our way back”.

Callum
@Drabbleswfc

Jonny Marples – “Memories”

Memories. One word that describes last season’s heroics from my beloved blue and white wizards. Fans were brought together in unity by attractive football and passion from the big man at the top, right down to the 11 players on the pitch.

We were all part of a magical roller coaster giving us joy and thrills, but unfortunately our ride came to a premature end. Currently sunning it up in the Costa del Sol and supping a cold beer, my mind wonders.

What word comes to mind for the new season? Desire.

The current crop at S6 are blessed with a desire to reach the Premier League along with their fans.

Myself, along with thousands of others, would bleed blue and white for a chance at the big time. You can hear the passion in our voices and nobody hears the Wednesdayites louder than the chairman, coach and players.

For too long we have longed for this chance that was well within our grasp last season. With this unstoppable desire, we can get there together in the upcoming season.

We are unified, we’re all Wednesday aren’t we?

Jonny
@jmarps

Joe

In April 2004 I watched The Owls fall apart at Grimsby.

Ndumbu was sent off for violent conduct that we didn’t know he had in him. Brian Barry-Murphy fluffed his lines again and gifted a first half goal. Owls reject Tony Crane lived up to his name and secured the win with a towering, looping header that Nuhiu wouldn’t reach if he had stilts on and a trampoline to launch himself.

I’d gone to this match full of hope. Wednesday were sitting in mid table with a chance, albeit slim, of making the top 6.

Chris Brunt for Wednesday

Chris Brunt in action for Wednesday

A kid from Middlesboro called Chris Brunt had scored a pearler on his full debut the week before.

Potential suiters were sniffing around the club hoping to pick up a bargain after the club had slipped in to the 3rd tier for the first time in 20 years. They promised us the Premier League! Good times were surely ahead… or so I thought.

The reason I mention this is that it sticks out as one of so many false dawns that cast a morning glow through the cantilevered roof of the proud North stand, only for the shadows to linger and lengthen rather than bathe the stadium in the warmth of the midday sun.

As Wednesday fans we have seen many of them in recent times… Strafford and his plans for world (cup) domination, Mammadov and his hidden millions. But something feels different this time.

Sheffield Wednesday go into this season riding the crest of a wave. Last season people sat up and took notice. It was like someone had mixed up a load of jigsaws, but somehow the pieces fit together…

A relatively unknown Portuguese coach with an unremarkable career walked through the door, a couple of rather expensive unknown compatriots joined him. He added even more midfielders (didn’t he realise we’d got McGugan?!) We were flooded with loan players…

But then somehow, everything fell into place. The signing of Forestieri was undoubtedly the catalyst. Leading from the front he hassled, harried, challenged, created, linked play and made space.

This is what we’d been longing to see from a player in an Owls shirt for years. It became obvious that ‘Fessi’ was a ready-made Carvalhal-esqe player. He fit the bill perfectly.

Soon the rest of the squad joined in. Bannan discovered the kind of form that Ian Holloway claimed he’d always known he had in him. Kieran Lee looked a different player having moved 20 yards further up the pitch – surrounded by quality, he looked quality. We could go on… but we all know how the story ends.

Keys to our success

Keys to our success

The hope is that this season the sun continues to rise. The pessimistic and impatient nature of owls fans (and twitter doesn’t help this) means that the demand for success is unbearable.

Day after day people get into arguments of 140 characters or less because we haven’t signed a player today, or because we lost a training match, or because we don’t like the shirt. We go in to meltdown if someone utters FFP or when Tesco take John West tuna off their shelves.

We bombard players and journalists with sycophantic drawl begging for ITK information, and then troll them when it isn’t forthcoming.

You’ll forgive me if I tell you all to chill out.

The sun is still rising. Chansiri and Carvalhal are now at a stage where gentle tinkering and tweaks are all that are needed to take us to the next level. It feels strange, especially after year on year of ripping up the script and starting everything from scratch.

Us Wednesday fans have grown accustomed to mass exodus of out of contract players and summer training camps where our 13 new players have time to gel.

This summer is different; a couple of the right players in the right positions is all we need. We’ve got Fletcher. As I write this we’ve all but announced Pudil and Abdi. Maybe a left footed centre-half is all we need to complete the picture… who knows?

So for now fellow Owls… Enjoy the sunrise, relax, lie back and bask in the glow of Chansiri’s mid-morning sun. You never know when the next rain cloud is coming.

Joe
@GrenoOwl

So, there we have it! Once again, thanks to all who contacted us over on Twitter regarding the opportunity.

A special thanks too to those who’ve joined the team. We hope everyone enjoys reading your pieces as much as we have.

Join us next week when we’ll bring you our usual division preview, before the routine starts again at home to Villa on Sunday.

Hugh
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @hugh_wragg


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