RAMBLE| Wednesday-v-Cardiff City.

A new journey.

So, we have arrived at a new era. We have pushed the reset button and now we’re in the “up all night to get Luhukay” times. As is the case with every new beginning, there is renewed vigour and hope. As it was the first league game at Hillsborough for Jos Luhukay, everyone seemingly felt more positive and ready to start a new journey.

Usually Saturday brings a sore head, however because my flatmate Callum was up at 7:00am to go to London and because I was feeling rather delicate myself, we both kept it quite civil the previous evening. Unlike when we played United, when I was so nervous I got quite drunk in the pub before the game and nearly missed the game itself because I fell asleep when I got back in, I actually felt rather positive. Cardiff on paper looked solid favourites but as we all know football, and Championship football in particular, is quite hard to predict. I started the day in my usual manner, with a cup of coffee and checking to see if there was any Wednesday related news (at the moment I am doing that a lot more because the way this season has gone, a mild bit of wind could injure one of our players). Things then took a turn for the worse. I decided upon Special K for dinner (because I am strong, independent 25 year old who doesn’t need to conform to societal norms) but, in my slightly ill state, I used too much milk. I don’t know whether you have had Special K after it has gone all soggy because of an overuse of milk, but it goes from Special K to Just About Edible K. It isn’t a pleasant experience. Like the trooper that I am though, I managed to eat it all, but times like these are bad enough without soggy cereal added to the multitude of problems that we are currently facing across the globe. The rest of the afternoon went by in a bit of a blur, instead of going to the pub I opted to go back to bed as I could only just about keep my eyes open. I awoke to the team news. The same side that played against United was put out minus the suspended Glenn Loovens, he had been replaced by Jordan Thorniley (a young lad we had brought in the previous season). I must admit, and I don’t think I am alone in saying this, I had next to no knowle

dge on the lad, however Loovens has hardly been in sparkling form of late and we don’t have any other fit centre backs, so needs must and all that jazz. I picked up my coat and headed for the door, only to turn straight and grab a second coat because it was, for lack of a more eloquent phrase, pretty fucking cold outside. The walk to the ground was fairly amusing because, as people were given a couple more hours to drink, there were a fair few people relatively hammered. I was also accosted by a young group of Wednesday fans who saw me and yelled “are you fucking Dom!?” After confirming to them that my name isn’t Dom, nor do I have a sexual relationship with a guy called Dom, they then decided to chant “sheep sheep sheepshagger” at me, despite the fact that I am clearly not Welsh. They were relatively harmless and I must say the future of the OCS isn’t in the best of hands with them. I arrived at the ground about 10 minutes before kick off so instead of getting a drink, me and my mum just went straight up to get settled in.

First Half

We set up in the exact same formation that we did against United, which surprised me a little bit because I thought we might have gone with a slightly more attacking formation given we were the home team. Still, Luhukay did state that he thought we played too open at times from what he had seen, and that he was going to try and correct that. Cardiff in all honesty edged the first half, they are in many ways a typical Warnock side. An effective, well organised side with just a hint of dirtyness. However, again in true Warnock fashion, it is an almost Looney Tunes inspired dirtyness, with an almost “whoopsie daisy” physicality. Their big lad up front Kenneth Zohore was doing his best to break down our defence and in my opinion he was their best and most effective player. We however remained stubborn and resilient. Chances were few and far between, but both sides had opportunities to get in front. Kenneth Zohore did have the ball in the back of the net, only for it to not stand because the whistle had already been blown for a foul. It was a soft foul, and of course Neil Warnock mentioned that after the game, the absolute turnip. Aside from that, Marko Grujic came closest to putting Cardiff in front, a well struck shot from quite a way out forced a decent save from Joe Wildsmith, but with the form he is in it didn’t really test him. We should all take a minute to praise Wildsmith, he has shown experience beyond his years over the past few games. It is great to see an academy player truly staking a claim for a first team place. At the other end of the pitch, we had our chances too. A cracking free kick curled in to perfection from David Jones (who had a good game despite some ridiculously negative comments on social media) fell kindly to the head of Jordan Rhodes. Sadly, Rhodes isn’t the player for those kinds of chances to fall to right now. He looks so bereft of confidence, which is a sad, sad sight. He couldn’t even manage to get it on target, which really was the minimum requirement for a player of his stature from such a good chance. Unfortunately, his luck didn’t get any better. After excellent hold up play from Lucas Joao (who is beginning to look like the player we signed in the 2015/2016 season again), Joao managed to put an inch perfect pass into the box for Rhodes. Again, Rhodes fluffed the chance, firing straight at Neil Etheridge, when either side of him would have surely seen us go into the break 1-0 up. Reach tried his best to place it into the back of the net with the rebound but couldn’t quite get his technique right to do so. Not long after, half time came.

Wednesday’s No.1

 

 

Half Time: Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Cardiff City

I think both teams would have gone in at half time feeling they could have possibly been 1-0 up, both teams had chances to do so. I ultimately felt slightly frustrated but also pleased with the performance. We look a much more solid and organised side under Luhukay. I still have a lot of respect for Carvalhal, but his stubbornness to change formation ultimately led to his downfall if we’re all being honest with each other. Luhukay’s almost back to basics approach has given us something new which we haven’t had in a while, stability. However I am well aware as I am writing this though that we have a long way to go, and we definitely need to start converting some of the chances we’re getting, 100%. After a quick trip downstairs for refreshment and to see my friend Chris, we made our way back upstairs and strapped ourselves in for the second half.

Second Half

The second half started off in a very similar fashion to the first. It was almost as if we were both testing the waters, like two people on a date both playing it cool to see if either of them would make the first move. Sometimes that can make for a very dull spectacle, but this match definitely had a bit of edge to it. As the half continued, it started to look like if anyone was going to make the aforementioned “move”, it would be Wednesday. Joao looks like a player who has pushed his own reset button. Overall, he looks sharper, more confident and assured. Sadly, he just lacked that last little bit of cutting edge. After some dubious defending on Cardiff’s part, Rhodes managed to put Joao in behind the defence. Sadly, the shot that followed went agonisingly wide. If it was on target, it would have been 1-0 as the keeper was totally beaten. Again not long after that chance, Rhodes managed to put himself in behind their defence, and he floated a lovely cross into Joao who frustratingly headed the ball into the ground, taking the sting off his header and making it a relatively easy save for Etheridge. It is those little details in those big moments that we need to change, because they are the difference between a point and three points in these kinds of games. Not long after, Luhukay decided to bring Marco Matias on to try and add a bit more pace into the game. Despite having a great game against Carlisle United, Matias didn’t really alter the game in the manner Luhukay would have wanted, a half chance where he almost got onto the end of a ball into the box aside, he had a quiet game. Cardiff also had their chances, in particular towards the end of the half. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, a tricky winger who was no doubt brought on for the same reason as we brought on Matias, to add a bit of pace to the Cardiff side, put a dangerous looking low ball into our box. At the time, I thought one of their player got a toe to it and forced a great reaction save out of Wildsmith. However, looking back at the highlights it went straight through the box, passing every Cardiff player in there and Wildsmith cleared it rather than saved it. After that chance, both sides began to wind down somewhat. Atdhe Nuhiu and George Boyd were introduced to the game, replacing Ross Wallace and Joao, and whilst Nuhiu tried his best to bring Wednesday into the game in his distinctive fashion, he couldn’t really make much of an impact. It was much of the same for Boyd although he did have a, rather ambitious but ultimately futile shot that went high into row Z towards the end of the game. By this point, it ultimately felt like both sides had started to settle for the point and when the whistle blew I think both sides felt relatively happy with the result.

Full Time: Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Cardiff City

 

At times this season, the atmosphere post match has been quite toxic, and most of the fans have walked out of the game like zombies. Today however, it felt much more positive, to me at least. Whilst we may not be where we want to be, it feels like we’ve (almost) turned the corner. We’re playing better and, most importantly, we’re defending much, much better. Neil Warnock couldn’t resist a little dig in his post match comments, stating that we should expect more draws the way which play (a little rich, as Cardiff didn’t exactly go for the jugular). That is Warnock though, he is the classic pantomime villain. In a weird way I like him. Not in a I would go for a beer with him way, more akin to the like you have for a t-shirt which you didn’t like at first that you have ultimately grown used to, but you wouldn’t exactly be sad if it went missing. Going forward I agree with Warnock though, we do need to start converting these draws into wins, every fan at the club will no doubt be aware of that, as will Luhukay. We are definitely seeing signs of positive changes though. Carvalhal’s end at Wednesday was a very bittersweet one, similar to a once great relationship ending because both sides have realised that it just isn’t working anymore. The past is the past though, we can only focus on each game at a time right now. I don’t think we will go down, and I am certain we won’t make it even close to the playoffs. However, we’re now on a new journey, with a new style and a new manager, and we all need to get behind him and the team to try and break away from some of the black clouds that have formed around Hillsborough. In the words of Journey themselves people “don’t stop believing” (I apologise immensely for ending on such a bad pun). UTO.

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

 


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *