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Goals win games but Sheffield Wednesday have only netted twice since October

Tuesday 25th November 2014
James Dean takes a look at an Owls side that started their season well but have slid down to mid-table.

After a promising start to the season, Sheffield Wednesday have gone 11 games without a win. Of those 11 games, 7 have passed without the Owls troubling the score sheet. However, all is not lost as they have the best defensive record in the Championship and currently sit 13th in the division. So, no need to panic… right?

Stuart Gray took over the helm at Hillsborough following the sacking of Dave Jones in December 2013. At the time, Wednesday looked doomed and destined for relegation. Gray instilled drive and energy into the team, overseeing a remarkable upturn in form that led to a respectable 16th placed finish. The good form spilled over into this season, with notable away victories at Brighton Middlesbrough but a 7-0 humbling at the hands of Manchester City signalled the start of a barren run in front of goal.

Since exiting the Capital One Cup at the Etihad, Wednesday have mustered just 4 goals in 900 minutes of football. A staggering statistic? Yes, but a surprise? Probably not.

Throughout pre-season a proposed takeover deal hung over the club, promising new found wealth, before eventually collapsing in late August. Throughout this period Stuart Gray was operating on a shoestring budget with Chairman, Milan Mandaric, actively looking to complete the sale of the club. The only new signings were done through free transfers, until the departure of Michail Antonio to Nottingham Forest (believed to be £1.5 million) allowed Gray to purchase Stevie May from St Johnstone (£900,000). Money was spent on a ‘one in, one out' basis which meant the squad was never really bolstered in depth.

Lo and behold, as injuries and suspensions started to take effect on the First Team, form began to slide. And with the absence of key central midfielders, Kieran Lee and Sam Hutchinson, the formula that brought a level of success was broken.

The problem now lies in the creation of chances as opposed to the taking of them. Stevie May scored over 25 goals in Scotland last season, scoring 3 in the opening stages of this season and a player with that nature does not suddenly forget how to put the ball in the net. But with the teams dip in form and key absences, a lack of confidence to take possession and move the ball into threatening areas has become evident.

Despite all this relative adversity though, any team could score 4 Championship goals in 900 minutes. Well not if your luck is out, the most elusive element. Last Saturday, Wednesday travelled to Huddersfield in the live lunchtime game and green shoots of a fresh start began to appear. Lewis McGugan, an impressive loan signing, looked intent on playing forward. In the final 20 minutes of the game, the Owls were denied by both bar and post, a superb save by Huddersfield's goal keeper and a questionable decision not to award a penalty. The 2,000 travelling fans were left desperate, bemused and asking “will we ever actually score again?”, but a level of hope had returned in that chances had actually come and gone.

The optimistic fans will hope that the drought will be followed by a flood, in that their beloved team will put 7 or 8 past Wigan at home next week but Stuart Gray and his players may well lose a bit of sleep come Friday night.
James Dean
A lover of football. Season ticket holder at Sheffield Wednesday and known as the "Andrea Pirlo of the North".

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