I think we are going to have to accept the reality of this season; we are going to lose a fair few games.
This season is very much a transitional one. We are missing some of our best players through a mix of injuries, suspensions and in the case of Westwood the theories abound. As much as I’m still naively optimistic about a play-off push, I’m enough of a realist to accept that a team with Dawson, Baker and Thorniley will probably struggle against teams like Forest that have some very experienced players.
My comments are not meant to be disrespectful to our younger players. In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised and encouraged by what I’ve seen from them so far. Ideally, we would look to blood one youth player at a time, giving them games here and there from the periphery of the first team squad. Our situation means we cannot afford that luxury and, instead, we are having to give these younger players a lot more game time. We have to remember that for every breakthrough youngster who arrives with a bang, there are literally hundreds of young players who develop slowly over time.
What the game tonight does reinforce is our need for a leader on the pitch. We desperately need an experienced leader in defence. If we are playing Dawson and Thorniley regularly, then we need someone to act as a captain in defence. I like Lees. He is a capable central defender but I’m not convinced about his captaincy.
I said in my previous blog on The Owls that Adam Reach is perhaps our most replaceable, saleable, asset. Nothing tonight has changed my opinion on that. Our midfield is just too lightweight and not energetic enough. Bannan has his qualities but for those qualities to truly shine he needs an enforcer at his side. Adam Reach is not an enforcer.
Looking ahead to Aston Villa we have a very tough game. We really cannot afford a defeat, but with the threat posed by Abraham and Bolasie I fear we could be in for a long afternoon. Man for man, our defenders are generally of good quality. I maintain the problem is one of leadership. I also think our midfield provides very little in the way of a defensive screen ahead of the back four. Our porous midfield allowed Stoke to go two-nil up inside of half an hour on Saturday. Aston Villa have, arguably, an even better midfield.
As disappointing as any defeat is, this is not going to be the last defeat of the season. This is a season for us to rebuild and I think any sensible Owls fan would agree that promotion is a dream. A good run of luck could see us make an outside run at the top-six but our lack of quality in depth makes that very unlikely. The key to promotion is to grind out results even when you are playing badly. There are at least six clubs more capable than Wednesday of that this season.
The main aim of this season, realistically, should be to give our younger players experience. It should be to allow Jos to shape this squad into a unit that can challenge next season with a bit of wheeling and dealing in the January and Summer transfer windows. It’s frustrating but I believe we just have to be patient.
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Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.