Carlos had a dream: OwlsAlive contributors on 2015/16

Carlos had a dream: OwlsAlive contributors on 2015/16

It’s Tuesday 27th October. It’s around ten minutes to nine.

The clocks have gone back and we’re creeping into winter. The weather, however, is remarkably mild. Hillsborough Stadium is remarkably full.

The noise is deafening. The Kop is buoyant. The North Stand is vociferous. Sheffield Wednesday have just moved into a 3-0 lead against Arsenal.

Arsenal are joint-leaders of the Premier League and have just beaten Bayern Munich. World Cup winners, Premier League legends and multi-million pound icons are collapsing to Bannan, Wallace, Lees and João.

Fernando Forestieri is in the stands.

For many, “we’re Sheffield Wednesday, we’re on our way back” is suddenly not only believable, but possible. Dark days of despair have gone. A future of promise is now in sight.

In Wednesday’s best league season since falling out of the Premier League in 2000, it is perhaps a little odd that the most memorable occasion will be a fourth round cup tie.

Although not a huge victory in terms of Wednesday’s possible rise back to the top, to re-enter the nation’s footballing conscience with such a performance was worth savouring.

Wednesday were on a long unbeaten run and suddenly looked like play-off hopefuls; a tag which has stuck with a team since camped in the top six of the Sky Bet Championship.

It is difficult to over-state just how good a season this has been to follow Wednesday, especially for younger fans.

For the first time in sixteen years, we are battling at the right end of the second tier, playing a largely attractive and wholly entertaining style of football that gets results.

Our team has a recognisable work ethic and is studded with talented individuals, individuals we could only watch longingly as they paraded around our ‘workmanlike’ and ‘effective’ teams of yesteryear.

This campaign has surpassed every reasonable expectation.

So, here at OwlsAlive, we thought that it was worth having a look back on.

Hugh
@hugh_wragg

It’s probably not worth taking note of anything I write on Wednesday any more. The other day, I tried to make a case for every ‘player of the year’ since 1992 being rubbish.

As it is, here is my two pennies’ worth.

You’ve probably gathered that I’ve enjoyed this campaign from the little introduction. Who hasn’t?

Player of the season: Barry Bannan – Oh, sweet Scottish prince. Should it be acceptable to name children Barry in the 21st century, rest assured, my first born would be named after you.

The conductor of the orchestra; the Giusueppi to Fernando’s Pinocchio. What you do with a football, we haven’t seen from players in blue and white for a generation.

Goal of the Season: Marco Matias vs Leeds – It’s difficult to conjure the words, really. It was voted by his peers as the best goal across all three divisions of the Football League.

In what has been an injury hit first year for Matias, this goal promises so much.

Everyone else will surely pick this goal and describe the control, touch and volley in much better prose than I. What I can add is that my hastily produced Vine of the goal was featured on the god-awful Sport Bible. Life ambitions met, there.

I got them back, though.

Performance of the season: Arsenal (H, 3-0) – The post-script of this match in the national media was unfairly focused on Arsenal’s changed side.

Changes that included a 100-cap German, Olivier Giroud, four England internationals, and Petr effing Čech. Rookie youngster Alex Iwobi is now the best thing since sliced bread.

Wednesday ruined Arsenal and embarrassed the most famous manager in the land. Lucas João arrived in an Owls shirt, Tom Lees added an extra million to his eventual price-tag and Hillsborough came alive again. A truly special occasion.

Stand-out moment – I almost went for our away defeat to Burnley, here. A Nuhiu goal was the only consolation in a 3-1 reverse.

Wednesday played with a fluidity and guile that belied the final score. It was at this point we moved on from a collection of individuals, and made a team.

The stand-out moment for me though was a recent 3-0 victory at Nottingham Forest. We’ve got a series of excellent performances to look back on this season.

Forest are unspeakably dire and continue to go backwards. Wednesday’s unforgiving nature here, in scoring three goals – one with ten men – was excellent and this was the moment that I finally realised we were in the top-six on merit.

How on earth I’ve managed to compose all of this without mentioning Fernando Forestieri, I’ll never know. 

Peter
@ploehmann

Player of the season needs to be broken down into two sub categories for me: Best performer and most valuable player.

How important are Fernando's contributions?

How important are Fernando’s contributions?

Forestieri steals best performer, but I’d throw a shout out their for the ultimate “manager’s player”, Kieran Lee, for most valuable.

Rarely have Wednesday been blessed with an individual who could increase the sum way beyond the parts.

He’s a player I’d love to see in the Premier League (and thanks to Dave Jones for signing him up).

Matias as goal of the season for me. The others were very good, and better than most in the last many seasons.

But Matias’ was so calculated ans exquisitely executed, and promises (promised?) so much from the guy. It’s a very un-Championship-like goal in many ways.

Performance of the year has to be Arsenal for me, but I’m biased as this was the first time I got to watch us at home on TV, rather than 3 inch grainy streams, for maybe 5 years.

Oh what a night!

Oh what a night!

I nearly woke the little ‘un up when we scored the first.

The atmosphere and genuine feeling of “we’re on our way back” and, we would like to think, window into a maybe not that distant future of a full, roaring and positive Hillsborough and a Wednesday side more than equal to the big names in football.

Stand out moment is hard for me. Getting Forestieri’s signature, allegedly ahead of Leeds?

I’d go so far as to say we wouldn’t be inside the play-offs if we hadn’t signed Forestieri.

Danny
@StirchleyOwl

Player of the season: Forestieri – Bannan and Lee have very good shouts in what is a remodelled Wednesday midfield but FF has been a true difference maker.

He’s had more off days than Bannan and Lee but when he’s been on it, he’s won us more than his fair share of points. He’s an impact player we’ve lacked for so long.

Goal of the season – hmmm, Matias is the obvious one but the team goal against Birmingham away, Bannan at home in the FA Cup, Wallace at Fulham are all deserving of consideration.

I’ll give it to Wallace as it was a crucial away win whilst Matias’ moment of magic came in an otherwise forgettable performance.

Performance of the Year – for me it’s Birmingham away, to react the way we did to losing two key players in Westwood and Hutch and to fight back the way we did shows a spirit we’ve lacked at S6 for a long, long time.

Arsenal was amazing of course but the Birmingham one was a sign we’re on our way back.

Moment of the Year – it’s hopefully yet to be had.

The Bring Us Back To Earth Moment – the 4-1 at Bristol City!

Liam
@LiamK2292

Player of the season: Fernando Forestieri – Such an important player for us and we’re a completely different team when he’s not involved. 15 goals is a terrific return and with each passing game the £3m outlay looks ever more the bargain.

The key cog in the machine?

The key cog in the machine?

Unsung hero: Kieran Lee – he’s been outstanding.

After a confusing first season under Dave Jones, Stuart Gray’s discovery of his combative midfield strengths revealed a hidden gem.

He has been our most consistent player for two years.

Goal of the season: Matias against Leeds with Wallace versus Fulham a close second.

Marco Matias’ effort could have graced any fixture in the world.

The audacity to try it, followed by the display of pure technique left us all open-mouthed. What. A. Goal.

Home performance of the season: Arsenal is the stand-out one for obvious reasons. A classic “I was there” moment.

Away performance: Birmingham. We showed fighting spirit especially in the circumstances. Lots of character shown to turn it around against a top-six rival.

And that’s a wrap. As usual, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Have we forgotten your player of the season, or that stand-out moment where everything came together for this team?

Let’s hope the boys can secure a victory against Cardiff and we get to see them again at Hillsborough before the season is out.

Hugh, Peter, Danny and Liam
OwlsAlive
owlsalive@gmail.com
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