BLOG | Tide of change sweeps across Hillsborough

BLOG | Tide of change sweeps across Hillsborough

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Or not, if you have any interest in Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.

A series of events since the Middlesbrough defeat have only created further worry, confusion and furthered the general apathy within the Owls’ supporter base.

We asked our contributors to deliver their thoughts on the past ten days and their hopes for the future.

Don’t expect it to be rosy.

 

 

I cannot remember seeing as bad a performance as that in a long time.

I dare say there are some and others with a better memory will remind me – I think there was a game against Watford in the mid 80s, that was freezing cold and 0-0 I think… there was Southampton when De Bilde hit a tame pelanty against Jones and didn’t care, it snowed right in our faces, they were bad that day but this was a punch in the face… this bothered me as much as that vacant look complete with shark eyes from De Bilde.

This was absolutely complete and utter gash and what’s more we deserved everything we got and it was pretty much the full 90 minutes of abject dullness and mind numbing mediocrity.

Wildsmith saving an early pelanty was the best Wednesday moment. *the best*

We lacked spark.

We lacked drive.

We lacked ambition.

We lacked skill.

We lacked composure.

We lacked belief.

We lacked fortitude.

We lacked heart.

There are players that didn’t deserve to be on the end of that performance or score…Wildsmith, Reach, Joao, Nuhiu, but the rest were truly, truly awful. At least they looked as though they were trying.

They looked as though they possessed a modicum of skill and drive. It took Nuhiu coming on to truly show any sort of ambition though. Any sort of willingness to chase down a ball. To run to try and beat an opponent to the ball.

Burton are not a good side. In truth I can see from watching them why they are where they are in the league. So what does that say about us?

I’ll tell you.

It says we are in the same position as them. In a relegation fight…. I use the word fight very loosely because if it actually comes down to a scrap and we find ourselves in the bottom three then nothing is surer than us going down.

Once we are in there WE WILL NOT GET OUT!

No grit left in the squad

We were second to every ball, we didn’t even try for the second ball.

We didn’t tackle, we didn’t run, we didn’t take players away, our passing was the worst I’ve seen. THE WORST!

We cannot pass to a blue shirt a few feet away and when a bang average Burton player is allowed to stroll through our entire team like he’s Messi, without us touching him, then we truly are at new depths.

Their second goal came from us losing possession with a short pass. NOT a Hollywood pass. Not being outskilled. Not trying to overwork things. PASSING TO OUR OWN PLAYER A FEW FEET AWAY!!!

I don’t want to hear about injuries.

I know we have them and I know they are key players and I’ll also go as far as saying that someone like Fletcher would have scored a couple of those we contrived to miss today but by the time those players get back on the pitch the damage will be done and it will be too late.

The malaise is already there…. it is there in the players… it is there in their work rate (ha!), it is there in every fibre of their bodies.

It is there in the stand, it was even there in the announcer today, even he sounded pissed off and beyond hope, it was most definitely in the interview given by the excellent Bully on Radio Sheffield.

The despair in his voice and the anguish… the pain… the cry for someone to take over and to DO IT NOW! Was there in every single word.

The best and probably most honest interview from S6 for a long while. Even he knows he is not up to it and he knows this squad isn’t at this moment in time and he knows it needs someone seasoned and skilled to come in and get a grip of this before it’s too late.

Injuries are no excuse

So what does our Chairman do at this time of desperation?

When we are desperate for the right voice, the right leadership, the right move?

He appoints a new CEO and one with a less than gleaming background, just to muddy the waters a little, because ya know what? When things are looking bad you just can’t pile enough shit on folk to make them feel worse.

Instead of following what the fans say when they are just blarting on he needs to get a fucking grip of this club.

He needs to be strong and tell us what the fuck is happening and what he’s going to do about it… NOT what he thinks the fans want him to do about it.

Time to crack the whip, Carlos

If you have someone in mind then appoint the fucker! If the fans don’t like him, FUCK EM!

We already know that deep down you think we’re idiots and by and large you are bang on the money, WE ARE! SO DON’T LISTEN TO US! WE KNOW FUCK ALL!

Get someone in to give you good advice on football matters.

Get someone in that can manage a football team. YOU decide. YOU appoint them. Clear the decks of all the past shit and let’s start again but YOU make the decisions.

The fans have been fractured for a while now but the longer this goes on you will definitely unite them again, I GUARANTEE that… but it won’t be what you want.

Time for an early exit

Today we left early. Not just because it was shit but because Charlie was very cold and wet and there wasn’t anything to distract an 8 year old on the pitch and make you forget about the cold… there wasn’t anything to distract a 58 year old either and in truth I was looking for any excuse to get out of there, Charlie gave me that.

As we got back to the car and walked past hundreds, maybe thousands of fans, it was clear I wasn’t alone in needing to get out of there and this exodus wasn’t simply to avoid traffic or make sure they didn’t miss the tram home.

You don’t notice the cold and rain when there is something on the pitch to distract you, even if you’re losing, as long as the effort is there. When you think we can win. When you HOPE we can win. I didn’t get that today, at any point.

For the first time I can ever remember I didn’t think we would get back into the game and I’ve thought that before when we’ve been 4-0 down and deep in injury time.

It takes a lot to dent my enthusiasm and belief we will win. It not only dented it today but pulled it to the floor and kicked the fuck out of it.

Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is in decay big style… again. From the top to the bottom on and off the pitch and it is going to take an incredible appointment and super strength from the Chairman to right this ship… if not…League 1 beckons… AGAIN!

AND… we can have no complaints.

Steve – @Beastie_

 

 

It’s New Year ’s Day.

I’m sat at the computer about to write this mini blog on my hopes for the rest of the season after watching the most abject performance that I have witnessed from my beloved Owls in a good seven years, losing three nil at home to relegation fodder Burton Albion.

All this while the pre-game exclusive news that the club were delighted to announce a new CEO in the form of none other than the insanely grinning embodiment of ineptitude in Katrien Meire was sinking in.

You may ask how it is possible to see light at the end of the tunnel in these circumstances, and right now I have to admit it seems a long tunnel.

But for the sake of sanity I’ll try. And in doing so I may have to be totally unrealistic.

 

The manager

 

Unless while I’m writing this I’ve missed the news, then at the moment we are managerless.

I for one don’t mind who we appoint.

So often the fans have demanded managers with proven pedigrees, the latest prodigy, big names, club legends. All of these can, and have in the past, fail(ed).

Who next? (Image: Metro)

In Carlos we saw something new, a little known Portuguese journeyman.

To be fair to the guy he did bring some success and good memories. If he’d have left at the end of last season he’d be nailed near the top of the mast in terms of win percentage for the remainder of the club’s existence.

So I have no prerequisite. I’m not going to get carried away with thoughts of Villas-Boas, or complain at the mention of Steve McLaren, or jump on any Fonseca band waggon, or demand the return of the Ginger Mourinho to “sort those prima donnas out”.

I just hope that the appointment is a manager who is strong willed, passionate, a little bit mean, well respected and ultimately his own man. I hope he’ll focus on playing to our strengths and not worrying about the opposition too much.

Who this man is and whether he’ll fit the bill remains to be seen, but I’ll back him regardless… at first.

 

The squad

 

This, without doubt, needs a new year’s revolution.

Over the past 3 seasons we have accumulated a squad of injury prone, under-performing journeymen stealing a wage on past glories.

Are some players living off their past glories?

It needs trimming and rebuilding as a matter of urgency.

For me, getting any kind of return on Jordan Rhodes is a must, although we may have to send out his Huddersfield show reel to generate some interest.

For months people have barked on about playing to his strengths… well what are they?

I have seen us whip crosses in to the box, float crosses over, try through balls, drop the ball in behind, play to his feet. He’s lost it.

What about the Rhodes conundrum?

Against Burton he was slower than Jake Buxton over 10 yards. He didn’t challenge for high balls. He planted two gilt edged headers straight at the keeper.

He completely misjudged the flight of another couple of superb crosses.

This was a signing made to appease fans that have been obsessed with ‘the boy Rhodes’ since he knocked 4 past us in 2011. I’m surprised we didn’t try and get Marshall in as well.

I know this isn’t going to be easy, as there needs to be a market for them, but I’d be inclined to try and move on Abdi and Matias.

Two big signings that have spent most of the time injured and failed to impress when given the opportunity.

Unfortunately for us, we simply can’t get rid of the likes of Wallace, Jones, Loovens, Fletcher, Palmer etc etc, as without them the squad would be ridiculously threadbare.

I agree that these players do not have a long term future at the club, but right now we need them.

In Bannan, Westwood, Hooper, Lee and Lees We have good players who are admittedly out of form and maybe just need a new coach to breathe fresh life into their game.

In Reach I believe we have a real player, and I would like to believe the best is still to come from Joao and Van Aken.

It has been written a thousand times what we need… Pace, power and leadership… Fingers crossed we finally address this during the transfer window.

 

The club

 

What can I say? This season has been a disaster of a celebratory year.

I don’t need to go in to the minutiae… it’s well documented.

But the club really is starting to look like one owned by a billionaire who bought it as a hobby for his son.

The latest installment of “Dummy’s Guide to Running a Football Club” in installing Meire is absolutely astounding given her history.

As one fan quipped on twitter, ‘Does Chansiri not have Google?’

We didn’t see this coming, or did we?

So my hopes for the club are simple. Do not get relegated and do not go bust.

Hopefully the appointment of the Night-Meire will be short lived, the cloudy relationship with Doyen Sports will be terminated and Chansiri will actually get an appointment right.

He needs to start getting it right soon, otherwise he will feel the full weight of a fan backlash, one that I think he never expected, nor will be totally prepared for.

For me, all I want for the next 5 months is ten wins to see us not totally screw this season up, a gradual reshaping of the squad, players to show a bit of passion, and no more boardroom bombshells.

Oh, and Fernando back. I’ve missed him.

Joe – @GrenoOwl

 

 

Katrien Meire: our new CEO

Somehow, the combination of our worst home defeat in years and a gutless, infuriating team performance was only the second most worrying event at Hillsborough on Monday.

The appointment of Katrien Meire as club Chief Executive Officer looks to be, at first glance, one of the most bemusing moves of the football season so far.

Let me say this first – more women should be appointed in senior footballing positions. This is obvious but infrequently noted.

More people – men and women – should be held accountable for their football activities. Meire meandered through one crisis to another in her time at Charlton Athletic, her first official football appointment.

To what extent she was appointed to take flak for the Duchatelet regime is questionable, and I’ll happily give a seemingly intelligent and highly qualified person a chance to prove their worth.

I am very concerned however about her footballing credentials: she has none of note, Charlton have suffered a relegation under her financial ideas, sold their best players, acquired players with inadequate experience and skill.

Charlton have only gone backwards since her arrival. Her input cannot have been entirely inconsequential. Addicks fans ran several campaigns to have her and their chairman outed. She famously sat under a banner that read ‘LIAR’.

On what basis is Dejphon Chansiri “100% convinced” that he has found the right person to run the club’s day-to-day activities? The fact she installed eight managers in four years? The relegation? The consistent fan protests?

It is, quite obviously, her business acumen, which cannot compute the “weird” notion that fans feel a sense of ownership to the clubs which they devote a huge portion of their lives to following.

I’m more than happy to give her time to prove her worth, but she needs to act fast. Fans have very real concerns over her pedigree which need to be immediately addressed with positive, forward thinking decisions for this football club.

That includes the very real overhaul of this squad, the appointment of a new manager, and the changes to backroom staff. Is she capable of organising these processes in tandem? I really hope so or the club could be in an even bigger mess than the one it currently finds itself in.

The frustration lies in this situation being entirely predictable and avoidable. Had the club addressed the on-the-pitch issues correctly in any of the previous four transfer windows, then Wednesday could again be challenging at the right end of the table.

Now is not the time to remind everyone that, for example, Glenn Loovens needed an able understudy in January 2016. Or that spunking £10m on Jordan Rhodes was a ridiculous move.

I really fear for Dejphon Chanisiri. Is the appointment of Meire a further sign that he is becoming dissatisfied with his role? Will the new CEO take the flak for his shortfalls in the same way she did at Charlton?

How much of an overhaul does this squad need?

Bemusing 1am statements about uniting ‘the Sheffield Wednesday family’ that are shortly followed by the departure of the Head Coach are, in short, a bit odd.

Chansiri appears to expect the utter devotion of the fanbase and a degree of trust in his actions. It’s now time for him and Meire to prove their ability to run this club properly.

It’s time to lay down a long-term vision for this club that no longer relies on spending fortunes on the wrong players. Chansiri has all the tools and once appeared to have all the interest in running this club properly.

Here’s a message to you, Dejphon: Stop passing fans off with statements about unity and start delivering. I’m not talking about promotion. Just give the fans a reason to be proud of their club again.

There’s no way I’m talking about the Burton shitshow. Only that I hope a new manager can inspire the mountain of problems in the side – mental, physical, tactical, it goes on. The despair in Lee Bullen’s voice was clear. He knows that this team are on the verge of a serious slide into trouble.

Carlisle next, then United at the Lane. Which is nice.

Hugh – @hugh_wragg

 

 

January is upon us.

Wednesday are in absolute freefall, how to fix this?

The recent record has been nothing short of abysmal, absolutely relegation form.

Many fans may have disagreed a few weeks ago, but after the horrendous performance against Burton I’m sure almost all will accept we need a man who’ll stabilise the club and importantly, keep us in this division.

Paul Lambert’s name is being whispered. Says it all that he’s the best name available. The manager situation is bleak, and has no signs of resolving itself. Aiming too high is a real problem, I don’t think Andre Villas-Boas is the solution.

That’s Champions League winner Paul Lambert, to you

We’re wasting a lot of time chasing pipe dreams there. Even Lee Bullen admits we need a new man as soon as possible.

Like many I wouldn’t mind giving Dean Smith from Brentford a go. He’d be foolish to come.

Crucially there needs to be some transfer movement in January, new players need to be brought in and the deadwood needs to be shifted.

The crippling problem is that without a manager, it seems highly unlikely anything’s going to be happening soon.

Will Bullen be bringing in new players? I can’t see it personally.

The idea of facing Sheffield United at Bramall Lane with the same squad we have now (admittedly with a returning George Boyd) is a terrifying prospect.

Based on recent weeks, they’ll tear us to bits.

The beginning of the end?

If we do manage to get some business done, there’s two key areas to address. Neither are new, nor a surprise.

We desperately lack options out wide. Reach has been excellent this season but having an alternative to Wallace would be ideal, preferably someone with at least some small amount of pace, who can stretch a team.

Some might have thought Matias would be the answer to this problem, but given he can’t start ahead of Wallace even when the latter was throwing up on the day of the game, I’d suggest the coaching staff don’t fancy him.

No doubt we’ll end up with someone like McGeady or McManaman (now on opposite flanks at the powerhouse that is Sunderland), who has bags of ability and a horrific attitude.

The other area that needs addressing is centre half, again a long-standing issue.

Lees supposedly picked up a minor injury, but has been out for ages now and shows no sign of returning. Van Aken is also now out.

Loovens makes a goal-costing error seemingly every week and Venancio suffers from the same affliction that Matias and Abdi do – the staff just don’t want to play him.

Maybe that will change under a new manager, but even so, we need a centre half. Now.

Maybe one of the 200+ they looked at in the summer could do the trick!

Back up needed

There’s a lot to be negative about around the club at the minute, but a good centre half and winger in January would be a huge boost which is desperately needed.

They’ll have to come on loan.

We blew the FFP limit on Rhodes in the summer.

I planned to end here but just wanted to point out: Chansiri gets so much stick for his recruitment “putting us in a hole” where we’ve hit the limits and can’t spend anymore.

It’s the Rhodes transfer that’s done that to us. I wonder how many fans would accept it’s us who clamoured for him.

He’s made a few mistakes in his time at this club, but the dislike of our chairman really grates on me. Without him we wouldn’t have any of our recent success, we’d still be spending 300k a season on players like Jeremy Helan and bringing in the likes of Sidibe and Bothroyd on loan.

I loved Mandaric for saving our club, but the man bought us for nowt, invested next to nothing then sold us for a colossal profit. He’s worshipped as a hero (rightly or wrongly, not my point here).

Chansiri has invested millions after millions of his own money and the fans are turning on him.

What a weird game.

Matt – @MattRFez

Thanks to everyone for their contributions.

It’s going to be an interesting month.


Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive

Images: SWFC, unless stated.

 

 


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