I’ve spent the summer enjoying a variety of sports’ including cricket, tennis, cycling, rugby and golf. However I’m pleased that I can now get back to my sporting love; football and more importantly, Sheffield Wednesday.
Not much seems to have happened close season. I wasn’t the only person surprised to see Miguel Llera, Giles Coke and David Prutton offered new deals. All three made a valuable contribution in our successful battle for survival, but I thought Dave Jones would be looking to bring in more quality players, especially as both Coke and Prutton seemed to be surplus to requirements and farmed out on loan.
I was pleased and unsurprised that Lewis Buxton and Jermaine Johnson were offered new deals. They are our longest serving players, and whilst Buxton remains one of the best right backs in the division, Johnson can be unplayable on his day.
The arrival of Jacques Maghoma from Burton Albion is an interesting signing. It’s a big step from League Two to the Championship, but I think he will have a battle to make the starting XI and should be given time to find his feet. Jeremy Helan has already proven his ability at this level, and his arrival on a full transfer from Manchester City was welcomed by most fans. We’ve added striker Atdhe Nuhiu who courted interest from some Premier League teams. I don’t think we know enough about him at the moment; however the fact that he has signed a three year deal must mean the management team have high expectations of him.
Overall another challenging season lies ahead. The quality of players plying their trade in the Championship seems to improve year on year. QPR have a squad of players earning mega bucks. Whether all those players will remain come September 3rd seems unlikely, but with a trip to Loftus Road opening our campaign, it’s more than likely that there will be numerous multi million pound players on display. It’s a tough start for us, but if they underestimate us we could surprise them.
Realistically, our aim should be a top half finish. We need to progress from last season. It’s an important campaign for manager Dave Jones. He was given the grace of a year at this level with the club, and although expectation was high last season, this coming year patience will be thin if results don’t materialise. We started off well last season, only to fall away early on. This year, we need to steer clear of the trap door. My fear is that if we have a slow start a section of our fan base will call for the manager’s head, which I believe would be detrimental to the progress of the club.
With the way the Championship is, there’s always hope that we could mount a promotion campaign and challenge for the play-offs. Last season, I didn’t want a relegation battle and didn’t foresee the struggles we would encounter. Again I’m confident we can steer clear of the relegation zone, I hope that confidence isn’t misplaced. Overall, I’d be satisfied with a mid-table finish, with a more attractive style of play. I want to see progress and improvement on last season.
With speculation rife that a take-over is imminent, I’d be keen to have any potential sale of the club dealt with quickly and effectively. I don’t want previous experiences of proposed take-overs to re-surface. We’ve had too many false dawns in the past to put our hope in new investment coming into the club.
Milan Mandaric has always maintained that he would sell the club when the right offer comes in. My concern is that we are sold to someone who then destroys our club. I’ve got faith that Milan wouldn’t do that, after all he saved us in our hour of need and has experienced the club at its best with promotion. I hope it’s the action on the pitch that marks our season, not happenings off it.
A return to the Premier League remains the ultimate aim. 30 years ago we returned to the top flight following a substantial absence. Here’s hoping a year ending in ‘4’ proves to be a fantastic one for the club. I wouldn’t mind a trip to Wembley, it’s long overdue! We can dream…
Up the Owls!
Written by Carl Mullooly, We Are Going Up’s Sheffield Wednesday blogger
Carl tweets at @MulOwl