On 10th June 2014 it was announced that a deal for the takeover of Sheffield Wednesday had been finalised; subject to the formality of the fit and proper persons test, which anyone seems to pass. The World Cup was around the corner and I had real hope that good times were coming back to Hillsborough as I made my way to the Amazon to support my country. Fast forward to 8th August and England heading home from Brazil before most teams had played twice, and Sheffield Wednesday’s takeover is not complete.
My main disappointment is the deal looked signed and sealed. As a Sheffield Wednesday fan I’m used to false dawns and in the past there were rumours of a buyout but nothing concrete. This time felt different. If the inevitable does happen and Mr Mammadov doesn’t buy the club we will move on. We’ll get over the disappointment and keep our hope that we will eventually secure some much needed investment.
In recent years, our continual reliance on loan players and short term deals has led to a fight to stay in the division with little progression towards our target of finishing in the top half and a possible play off push. In the back of my mind this summer, with the potential for new investment, the fact that we were not signing players didn’t concern me. I am now a little worried that we are reverting to type and we will be scouting for players after the season has started. That said, I do believe we have some cause for optimism.
With everyone fit, we have a team that can compete at Championship level. We desperately need a striker; however looking around other squads in the second tier we are not alone. It is imperative that certain players remain fit. Glen Loovens oozes class and could play at a higher standard, but his history of injuries does leave a nagging doubt. Sam Hutchinson could prove to be a key player. Again he is someone who has had injury and suspension problems. If he is on the pitch more often than not it will definitely boost our points tally.
We have strong competition in goal and I fancy Keiran Westwood to take the number one spot. Chris Kirkland has been a great player for us in recent years and may start off with the jersey, but for us to go out and sign a new keeper of Westwood’s calibre puts a question mark over Kirkland’s position.
Despite the excitement of the new season approaching, the late sale of Michail Antonio has led to some negativity. The fan base seems pretty split over his departure. I never thought Stuart Gray was keen on him and with his comments about the forward lacking a football brain were a clear sign of this. Antonio will go down in Owls history with key goals and top performances in our promotion campaign in 2012and for this I will always be grateful, yet for me he never hit those heights at Championship level. He has all the attributes to make a great player with his pace and power, but his decision making and first touch can be questionable. I think we have done a good piece of business. We will see if Stuart Pearce and Forest can help him fulfil his potential.
It’s hard to really judge how things will go this season. At the moment, I suppose maintaining our Championship Status should be our aim. The thing is, at some point it must be our turn to have a bit of fortune at this level. Fourteen years since we left the Premier League we’ve not had a promotion battle of note to return there. Teams in similar circumstances have been successful in recent years. The competition in the Championship becomes fiercer with each passing year. The relegated teams have squads that we can only dream of, yet that doesn’t mean their dressing rooms are harmonious. The hangover of relegation can be like a noose for teams. I would expect the likes of Wigan, Derby and Forest to be strong contenders based on last season. It may be unrealistic for us to expect to compete with these teams and the quality of players they have, but we must try.
Everyone starts equal this weekend and the ambition for every team should be first place. That’s not always a realistic aim, yet if we get anywhere near the top six the season will show progression if nothing else. As well as our Championship status being maintained, greater stability would be more than welcome. I’m not holding my breath for success, but will support the team and keep dreaming, starting at Brighton.
Up the Owls!
Written by Carl Mullooly, We Are Going Up’s Sheffield Wednesday blogger
Carl tweets at @MulOwl