PREVIEW | Norwich -v- Wednesday

PREVIEW | Norwich -v- Wednesday

Tumbleweed metaphorically blew across the courtyard of Owls Alive towers this week.

Our little forum is a hub of discussion in good and bad times, but the recent run of drab stalemates has done little to spark the collective imagination.

Writing about Wednesday these days is becoming a challenge.

Simply put, there’s little worthy of effusive praise, and criticism – constructive or otherwise – is looked down on by members of the club staff.

What can we say about the club that hasn’t already been said recently?

On the pitch, the flaws are pretty obvious even if the solutions are not. The fans are now seemingly split on the Head Coach, whose disapproval rating is surely at the highest of his tenure.

Off the pitch, matters have equally been done to death: ineffective recruitment, yawn, lack of club direction, yawn, questions over the chairman’s long-term intentions, yawn, yawn, yawnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

There are three recent details worth focusing on, all pieces of club communication with the media.

The first was Carlos’ behaviour after the draw with Hull. Criticism of his ‘passion’ or lack thereof is frequent, yet plenty was in evidence here. It must be pretty tiresome for a man to work a thousand miles away from his family to be challenged over his commitment, but here we are.

Relying on the same excuses though is equally tiring. Before actually being challenged by the assembled press over his shift to defensive set-ups, the Head Coach set about justifying his new attacking selection, which was a little odd.

Labeling Jacob Butterfield as an attacking option was even more odd. Barry Bannan could be a forward thinking option if 50% of his game was not picking the ball off of the toes of two centre-backs.

Telling the press that your selections are designed to test opposition defences is fine, if you actually lay a finger on them in one half of football.

Bannan’s chat with the media on Thursday is the second club communication worth attention.

‘It starts now!’ was the essence of his rousing speech, which again, would be fine, if we were in the second week of September and not a fortnight from Christmas.

Have the squad only just realised that expectations are not being met?

The final media conversation (in this instance, club media) we should look at is the George/David Hirst statement.

At face value, this rounded off the largely monotonous ‘Ask the Chairman’ series with a bang. Effectively saying that the player unfortunately has no future with the club, calling out a certain person ‘close to the player’ and turning the tables on Doyen Sports, this was a firework display to match the club’s effort at Owls in the Park.

All very good and lapped up by the fans – but surely it’s worth questioning what drove the club to communicating this publicly?

Of course, many younger fans have turned on Hirst Senior for his part: the club legend who protected his son’s interests is now the anti-christ for SWFC’s branch of Football Twitter because the Second Coming might never make a senior appearance at Hillsborough.

The compensation talks will likely be messy and Wednesday will come off best should he go on to enjoy the career that many have predicted.

Good luck to him.

 

 

Back to more pressing matters, and tomorrow’s trip to Norwich.

City are on a winless streak – eight in total – and alongside Wednesday’s series of stalemates, it all points to one thing.

Home win.  Another draw.

On Hull and Barnsley are on a worse run than these two sides in the whole division.

Both clubs are looking at the clubs ahead of them wondering what might have been.

Norwich have failed to rescue enough points from losing positions while Wednesday haven’t converted enough draws into wins. And yet, we travel to Norwich only eight points adrift of the play-offs. Ipswich, Leeds, Boro, Preston and Brentford lie between sixth and Wednesday: all functional sides with a little creative spark or reliable goalscorer.

Last time out, City fell to defeat at Cardiff despite taking the lead early on.

Marco Stiepermann’s effort from distance put Norwich ahead at the break, before Cardiff levelled through Joe Ralls.

After the game, City boss Daniel Farke said, “What happened in the second half was unacceptable, but we have to deal with that.

“No-one can tell me why there was a penalty, it’s a foul on my player and we gave a penalty away. Five minutes later they get a free-kick which was never a free-kick, their second chance, they hit the crossbar out of this situation.

“Then they get a second penalty against us, where their striker comes to me after the game and says to me and says ‘I slipped, sorry, but he didn’t touch me’.”

Sounds a little familiar.

 

 

LAST 5 Hull (H) Reading (A) Ipswich (A) Bristol C. (H) Villa (A)
WEDNESDAY D 2-2 D 0-0 D 2-2 D 0-0 W 2-0

 

LAST 5  Cardiff (A) Preston (H) Forest (A) Barnsley (H) Bolton (A)
NORWICH L 1-3 D 1-1 L 0-1 D 1-1 L 1-3

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS NORWICH WINS DRAWS
  23 15 15

 

 

LAST MEETING

 

Wednesday 5-1 Norwich

4 April 2017, Hillsborough, Att: 28, 178

Five goals, four different scorers. One game in April. Give us month to do that, now.

Remembering back to April, however, Wednesday responded to severe pressure by turning in an excellent performance after consecutive defeats to Brentford and Leeds.

Sam Hutchinson created the first, pressing the Norwich goalkeeper into presenting a goal gift-wrapped for Ross Wallace.

Rhodes added a second and Fox a third before half-time. Rhodes converted a delicious Bannan cross for his second and Fernando Forestieri stroked a lovely free-kick home for number five.

You can read Joe’s ramble here.

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

Fletcher and Hunt are two doubts after the Hull game; Lees joins Forestieri and Hutchinson on the long-term injury list.

As for the lesser-spotted George Boyd – who knows?

Could Carlos throw caution to the wind and start with three up top? Has the time come for Atdhe Nuhiu?

WESTWOOD

HUNT

van AKEN

LOOVENS

FOX

WALLACE

LEE

BANNAN

REACH

HOOPER

FLETCHER

KEY PLAYERS

 

CARLOS CARVALHAL  – Probably won’t be donning his boots, but the HC really needs his team to provide a performance that will shake off some critics, or get those who are unsure back on side.

He can inspire his side to do so, encouraging our creative players to be expressive while drilling our defensive players to be more disciplined.

Continuing to concede goals like we have against Ipswich and Hull will see us lucky to break into the top half, never mind the top six.

Norwich are winless in eight, why not test their defensive weaknesses early on with a concerted effort?

Having studied their frailties – defending crosses and set-pieces – why not start Nuhiu and Fletcher with Hooper in behind, and throw all manner of crosses in from deep and the byline?

For the love of all that is holy, inspire the fans who’ve travelled down late to watch a televised match.

ALEX PRITCHARD – Yet to appear this season, in line for his first start.

Pritchard tore this division to pieces a couple of years ago and has shown the Norwich fans that he is capable of doing so once again. Despite a long lay-off, the former Brentford loanee has a point to prove.

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Hull WIN DRAW
1-1 HT/FT Wednesday/Draw
BEST ODDS 12/5 11/8 5/2 6/1 16/1
BOOKIES

 

HUGH’S VERDICT:

Significant levels of yawning – check.

Distinct lack of Christmas cheer – check.

Number of total goals scored exceeding two – probably not.

VERDICT – Another uninspiring draw that does little for the creative output of Wednesday writers and bloggers everywhere.

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

Images: SWFC, unless stated. Line up images: Getty.


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