PRESS PASS | ‘Best foot forward!’ for Wednesday
“Unless it causes pain, I don’t think about it.”
Thus spoke Sam Hutchinson at today’s press conference.
It could be the refrain of all Wednesdayites right now. It’s all getting a bit painful and we can’t stop thinking about dropped points, what ifs and Fulham breathing down our necks.
Hutch of course was referring to the sort of two-footed lunge that saw Andy Hammill trudging off the Hillsborough turf for an early bath in December.
Unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of a week that saw Neil Taylor applying the term ‘International Break’ a bit too literally to Seamus Coleman’s leg, Hutchinson and Hammill have played down the prospect of reciprocal crunching at Oakwell.
Our Sam can’t resist peppering his chat with references to hearty tackles, contact sport and his view that “for a defender, a good tackle is as good as scoring a goal.”
But it’s all said with a grin on his face.
When Hutch declares, “It will be fun” you know he means it. Let’s hope Saturday’s referee, Kevin Friend, is game for a laugh.
Derby games and no hard feelings aside, is Wednesday’s current position causing Sam pain? What is he thinking? The joker turns diplomat.
“I didn’t see the game but apparently we were a little bit unlucky against Reading.
“We’re not where we want to be but we are where we are… If we win our games we’re in a position to take that [sixth] place, or take people above us.”
Scribbled in my press conference notebook is the legend “12 games, 36 points” – thus demonstrating I can both do sums and look on the bright side.
Well. That didn’t happen.
With a return of just 4 points from the last 4 matches, we’re doing the top six version of James Stewart in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Clinging on by our finger nails and trying not to look down. Because if we do look down we will see Fulham spinning beneath us like a bad dream.
Winnall challenges for the ball against Reading
But we can’t help looking down, even though we know it could make us dizzy. So we lose our grip and fall, shattering all hope of a 150th anniversary season in the Premiership.
“I don’t even look at Fulham.” That’s Hutch – feet well and truly on the ground.
Apart from when they’re both off the ground.
Enter Carlos to put things in perspective. “If you don’t have pressure it means you are not fighting for anything.”
So now it’s 8 games and 24 points. Starting with Saturday’s trip to Oakwell
A tanned and relaxed Carvalhal drops hints of a new surge of energy to attack the final run in: the injury list getting smaller, the road to recovery that bit shorter for the greatly missed Kieran Lee.
“The panorama now is better than the week of Reading.” In the head coach’s eyes, all the signs for Saturday’s South Yorkshire showdown are positive
Barnsley’s impressive season, channelling the energy of their superb promotion campaign into a credible Championship force, hasn’t gone unnoticed by Carvalhal.
He shows respect for the Tykes, while noting their style has changed slightly in the latter part of the season to accommodate changes in personnel
Wednesday’s very own January transfer Tyke, Sam Winnall will be expecting some stick from the Barnsley faithful.
After a slowish start, could this be the other Sam’s opportunity to shine in Wednesday colours. If he’s picked.
Carlos is his usually cagey self with team news, “I’m not telling you whether he’s playing tomorrow or not.”
And should Winnall get a game, he will be spurred on by 5,000 travelling Wednesdayites and a protective Hutchinson.
“He’s come to a bigger club…He’s tried to progress his football career and his life so you can’t say anything bad about that.
Of course, while Winnall’s return is a fairytale ending in the making, it’s not all about him.
“Tomorrow we know we will have good support from our fans. This is important to all of us. They still believe in us. This is a good signal. We will try on the pitch to give them happiness.”
Let’s take a lead from Carlos, put our happiness hats on and look back to December, and a three-game winning streak – beating Barnsley, Rotherham and Newcastle… Hang on.
Carlos ponders how to improve his stuttering Owls
Those are our next three opponents. Could it be a sign?
Hutchinson reality check time: “I think every game in this league is so hard, it doesn’t matter who you play. You’ve got to give 100% or you get punished – like we’ve seen this season.”
In a season where there are few patterns, rhymes or reasons to our results, happiness becomes part of the pain.
When the final scores come in on Saturday, making ourselves dizzy by looking down at Fulham will be the preferred option. When the alternative is a crick in the neck from looking up at them, dizzy is good.
Like Hutch says, It’ll be fun.
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