Championship: Why Wednesday face a relegation battle
WITH The Championship starting on Friday, Gabriel Sutton outlines the reasons why Sheffield Wednesday could well face relegation at a big price of 9/1.
Why Sheffield Wednesday face a relegation battle…
Sheffield Wednesday are a great club with a loyal fanbase, but those supporters could be let down by the mismanagement of Dejphon Chansiri and the board, who are already starting to suffer the consequences for poor recruitment.
Since losing the play-off final to Hull in 2016, they have put approximately another £11 million on the wage bill by adding 18 new players on permanent transfers and loans of which, aside from perhaps energetic left-sider Adam Reach, none have made a significant impact.
Even if the rise of goalkeepers like Joe Wildsmith and Cameron Dawson means Keiron Westwood is no longer the untouchable stopper he used to be, the key outfield players – Tom Lees, Barry Bannan, Kieran Lee, Gary Hooper, Fernando Forestieri – all started at Wembley two years ago.
In fact, one could argue they are yet to replace aerial beast Sunderland-bound veteran Glenn Loovens – the jury is out on centre-back Joost Van Aken.
When last season’s injury crisis cleared up and some of the key men – namely Bannan and Forestieri – returned to fitness for the final few weeks of last season, form notably improved.
The problem with relying so heavily on the same men they did two years ago is that players tend to wane in ability as they get older.
Forestieri is tremendously gifted but lacks the power to carry a ball up the pitch and Atdhe Nuhiu is not the most mobile target man, therefore the midfielders like Joey Pelupessy and George Boyd will have to get through a lot of leg work.
Ideally, Wednesday would have the funds to rebuild this squad but FFP regulations have put pay to that, so manager Joss Luhukay used six academy graduates after taking over in January.
Left-back Ashley Baker and midfielder Connor Kirby caught the eye, while Jordan Thornily (signed from Everton at a young age) continues his rise, but relying on kids in a division as advanced as the Championship has its risks.
A combination of off-field issues, old players potentially past their best and kids lacking the knowhow was a recipe for Sunderland’s relegation last season – it’s not inconceivable that a similar fate could come Wednesday’s way.