I was at Hillsborough on Saturday to watch Wednesday take on Leicester. We had a vague stab at it for the first 40 minutes or so (and again for 5 or 10 minutes in the second half) but I think you'd have to be moderately deluded to say that we deserved anything from the game.
Before I go on, there's a couple of points worth making. Firstly, I don't usually blog about football as I don't like to live with an uneasy feeling that some of the more..."enthusiastic" (crack pot) fans will forgo all sense of social norms in an attempt to vilify me for having a different view to theirs. I also tend not to blog about football because it's only a game. I've mentioned before that for the time I'm in the stadium I'm as elated/frustrated (delete as applicable) as the next fan (though I'd like to think I'm not so bonkers as some). But by the time I get home and explain to my wife and daughter that, no, we didn't win, I'm over it. Wednesday might be in my blood, but it's not the be all and end all of my life.
So to Saturday. I'd said to my Dad (who was spared the performance by a prior engagement this week) that I'd take a point before kick off (something I'm saying more and more). Having thrown two new loan signings into the team I was hoping for a bit of a fresh look to the side.
I think that for most of the first half, we were "not terrible". But I think we looked scared of passing the ball once we advanced beyond the centre circle. Having switched to a 4-4-2 playing with actual strikers and actual wingers, I was hoping we'd get the ball out wide and put crosses in for strikers. But we didn't. We passed the ball across the defence and let the two central midfielders have a touch every now and then. Going in one down at half time was a blow, but not unexpected. Apart from a brief period in the second half, we didn't look at the races - disjointed rather than rubbish.
So what can you do to change things? I'm not entirely sure, and it's certainly not my job to figure it out, but a few things seem obvious:
1. Use wide players properly. Get the ball to the wingers and tell the strikers to get in the box. It might not be Total Football, but it's using what we've got effectively
2. Play in position. Seeing strikers drop back to basically stand next to midfielders seems, to me at least, to be Not A Very Good Idea. Bothroyd was guilty of it a lot on Saturday
3. Change things around a bit. Loan signings coming in is good for competition but signing another when we already have 4 seems odd to me. I don't take training sessions every day so I don't know how the players perform but I'm not sure blindly persisting with the same players that aren't scoring goals is a perfect solution.
4. Make a bit of effort. An elderly lady who'd been outside collecting for St Luke's Hospice ended up sitting next to me on Saturday. She admitted to being a Spurs fan brought up on Bill Nicholson's team in the 60s, but, living in Sheffield she followed both clubs. She remarked at one point that "they seem to be waiting for it [the ball] to come to them rather than go and get it". And she was right. Often you'd see a ball played into feet but a Leicester player would nip in front of our waiting player and intercept
5. Keep the ball. Admittedly we do this pretty well when we're not being pressurised. I've no idea if there are stats to back this up, but I suspect our centre halves had as much of the ball as our centre midfielders at the weekend. I'm not suggesting we try and imitate Barcelona but keeping hold of the ball in the final third must surely improve our chances of getting a goal or two (see also Point 2 above)
6. Relax. This is for fans more than anyone. It is only a game, and whilst other promoted sides like Charlton and Huddersfield are acquitting themselves a lot more than we are, ask yourself if it really matters that much to you that you're prepared to wage a war from the comfort of our laptop about it. It's pretty obvious that the team aren't doing as well as we'd all like (and we'd all hoped we would) but mercilessly laying into every player for 90 minutes isn't exactly a constructive way of supporting your side. You may not be a big fan of Jay Bothroyd, or think Dave Jones has lost his marbles (and you're entirely within your rights to think that), but surely you support the shirt more than you "can't stand" certain individuals...
Watford tomorrow night will be tough and whilst I might be frustrated to see the same XI again (seriously, Rodri can't get a start anymore??), I'll be utterly delighted if Bothroyd scores a winner - I genuinely don't think I could say the same for everyone. I read an article recently about Arsenal fans wanting "their" Arsenal back. If you're the kind of fan that thinks that, then think about what that really means as a Wednesdayite....
As long as you're happy I suppose that's all that matters. Up the Owls.