|Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Sheffield Wednesday|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 25th September 2021 Kick-off 15:00
By Wisdom and Courage - Notes for Sheffield Wednesday
Friday, 24th Sep 2021 15:00
As Ipswich Town look to follow-up last week’s victory at home to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, TomTheWriter assesses the mood in the opposition camp.
Ipswich Town finally picked up the first win of their 2021/22 campaign in their seventh game of the league season. Now, they look to build some more momentum on Saturday.
Their opponents, Sheffield Wednesday, are trying to recover from their relegation from the Championship last season, having suffered a six-point deduction for financial irregularities.
So far this season, the Owls find themselves in 13th position, having started the season well before falling away in the last few weeks, picking up 11 points from a possible 21.
Last season, Josh Windass was the goalscoring threat, Barry Bannan was one of the leading playmakers in the second tier, with Irish international Keiren Westwood holding the fort between the sticks.
“I have seen enough to know that Moore is tactically naïve”, “Moore has come in to try and usher in a new era of playing staff and style while being expected to challenge for promotion straight back to the Championship. As expected the start has been mixed for a variety of reasons. It’s not been a bad start but it hasn’t been a good one”, “The training facilities are lacking but I don’t think Moore has done enough to overhaul the club from top to bottom.”
Current boss Darren Moore was appointed as the manager of Sheffield Wednesday in March of 2021 having guided Doncaster Rovers to an unlikely play-off position before his untimely departure to the Championship.
“Realistically, he’s not going to sack off his 4-3-3”, “We’re too easy to play against, our plan A doesn’t work and never will at this level. In the last three games - Morecambe, Plymouth and Shrewsbury – [they all] simply sat 30 yards off us and packed out the midfield leaving us to our sideways passes around the back five”, “He's popular but he has to do more on the field and, given the players he has, he ought to be fine this season, as I repeat he has been lucky to have so many players, although I fear he has recruited too many to gel a team, especially with Windass to fit in eventually.”
Moore replaced the outgoing Tony Pulis, becoming the fourth manager in Sheffield Wednesday’s tumultuous 2020/21 season. Garry Monk started the season poorly, causing him to be sacked and replaced by Pulis.
Pulis himself would last just over a month, before being sacked just before the new year. Former Blues left-back Neil Thompson was more successful as caretaker than the previous managers, before Moore entered the fray.
Nine-Year Stay Ended
“Any sane fan realises that there is very little chance of coming straight back up next season”, “I expect to start the season with another rag tag, unbalanced squad with Moore sadly trying to plait water. The place is going to get less and less attractive to potential managers, players and especially fans after another wretched season of incompetence unfolds”, “In a month’s time, things might be different. Our biggest asset is Moore and his contacts to try and build a young, hungry squad.”
Wednesday were promoted to the Championship back in May of 2012, ending a two-year spell outside of the second tier. In the nine years since they reached the play-offs twice under Carlos Carvahal with six of the seven other years spent nestling around mid-table.
“We've been rubbish since Christmas 2019”, “The complete lack of communication is what is weeing me off the most”, “The off the pitch stuff is the big worry and Christ knows where the end of tunnel is with [chairman Dejphon] Chansiri is in charge.”
The Owls’ owner Chansiri has been in charge since the 2014/15 season with the downward spiral beginning in the last few seasons. Since January 2018, Wednesday have had nine different managers, permanent and caretaker.
After Wednesday’s relegation from the Championship last season they have seen a large turnover in their playing staff.
Captain Tom Lees and poacher Jordan Rhodes both left the Owls to join Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town in the second tier with Moses Odubajo and Adam Reach also returning to the Championship.
Matt Penney joined up with Town after his contract expired with Elias Kachunga also finding a home in League One with Bolton Wanderers. Irish international Westwood is still without a club after his release from the Owls last season.
Compared to the squad that ended the 2020/21 season, six of the starting XI remain from the dramatic 3-3 draw away to Derby County with three of the substitutes also still with the club.
Strength-wise, the majority of Wednesday fans have been impressed by the number of signings, making their squad stronger for the League One campaign.
“I think this season's squad has more strength in depth probably”, “For me, it's a great headache for [Moore] to have, we not only have strength in depth in attacking options, but also different styles of player which will make us harder to defend against as the season goes on and players get fitter and sharper”, “We've a good squad with options for every position and strength in depth.”
However, despite the number of players arriving, there looks to be a big hole in the squad when it comes to the midfield.
“Since losing against Hull we've had a midfield that's lacked real strength and determination that can control games”, “Unless we get the physical and mental strength of this team sorted, technical ability alone will not suffice”, “You’ll find a glaring weakness in midfield.”
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Shrewsbury Town
“Today, we weakened the tight defence we have, because [Sam Hutchinson] was needed to play alongside Bannan. For me, it is time he sat out a few games to give others a chance to show what they can do”, “This is abysmal. What’s the actual plan of attack?”, “One point from the last three isn’t acceptable with this squad. Moore is going to be under huge pressure if we don’t put some results together soon.”
“I'm far from happy, but the officials set the tone for the day. I watched on iFollow and apparently the Shrewsbury commentators thought that the handball and the rugby tackle on [Dominic] Iorfa were both penalties”, “Nicked a draw, phew”, “When have they actually played well this season? Got the odd result, but not the performance. It's a worry.”
The Owls’ home draw to Shrewsbury was their second of the season, as they made four changes from their 3-0 defeat to Plymouth Argyle the week before.
Plymouth Argyle 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday
“The fact we were completely outplayed by Plymouth with the team we have - regardless of this ‘time to gel’ nonsense talk - shows just how low our fans expectations really are”, “Can't just turn up and expect to win, have to earn the right to play in this league and we haven't done that today. Nowhere near good enough”, “We haven’t exactly fired on all cylinders all season. A few wins, yes, however none convincing. We lost to Morecambe, who are no great shakes and had one shot on target, as for today the least said the better.”
“A very hurtful performance after having all that time on the training pitch. Plenty of games to go though so all we can do is focus on the next game”, “If we stop thinking that we are big boys in this league we might just start to realise that it takes much more than that to win games”, “We’ll be OK but Moore’s going to have to find an attacking formula that works. If this stays the same, five goals in six games is abysmal.”
Sheffield Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Plymouth was their second league defeat in a row, with them currently on a three-game league winless streak as they head to Portman Road.
“Bailey Peacock-Farrell is pretty much undroppable”, “Still the best we've got but he needs to get his act together or [Joe] Wildsmith might need to have a couple of games to focus BPF's mind”, “He’s a much better keeper than Wildsmith and [Cameron] Dawson.”
One of the many summer signings at Hillsborough, on loan from Burnley, Peacock-Farrell started the season with five clean sheets in a row, but hasn’t kept one in his last few games. A penalty-saving specialist, BPF is a very impressive loan for League One.
“We could easily have just five points if we had [Joe] Wildsmith in goal”, “Who the hell coaches him? A really terrible goalkeeper, I think [academy goalkeeper coach Nicky] Weaver has got to take some of the blame, [he] doesn't come for crosses, hasn't got a clue when to come off his line and the kicking today was unbelievable”, “This lad’s confidence is totally shot.”
Wildsmith has been with the Owls since 2014 and has been in and around the first team for the past few seasons. Was the direct rival for Westwood and is now the back-up to Peacock-Farrell.
“[Sam] Hutchinson should never play centre-midfield again. Firstly because the legs have gone for the centre midfield battle and secondly he seems the only natural organiser we have at centre-back”, “Hutchinson needs to play centre-back”, “We all love the Hutch-Iorfa partnership at the heart of our record-setting defence but we also know Hutch will need careful management to last the season.”
Midfielder-turned-defender Hutchinson was a key part of Wednesday’s strong start this season, but his move to centre midfield in the last game was met with unhappiness from the supporters. His position on Saturday could be key.
“What has happened to [Everton loanee Lewis] Gibson, is he still injured as I have seen no mention of him?”, “Actually, one thing I'd like to see would be Gibson replacing [Chey] Dunkley if he's ready”, “Everton loanee Lewis Gibson will miss out [against Shrewsbury Town] with a slight quad issue.”
Linked with Ipswich this summer, Gibson hasn’t featured for the Owls this season as he deals with a quad issue. It’s unknown when he will be ready for Saturday.
“Won a fair share of headers. Solid, but slows play with laboured passing”, “If we’re gonna play out from the back, we need Hutch back in there because [Dunkley and Iorfa] frighten the life out of me”, “I think Dunkley was the only one who looked a bit out of place in the system we played.”
Dunkley brings down Derby's Kamil Jozwiak in the area
A player Paul Cook knows very well from Wigan, Dunkley was another linked with a reunion with his former boss this summer. Has had a few little injuries this season, making his return to the squad for the Shrewsbury game.
“Strong first half, went forward well, minor role in goal conceded. Lost confidence and energy second half”, “It’s not a case of [Liam] Palmer doing anything wrong, but playing him as left-back works into the hands of the opposition”, “We should have scored from at least one of Palmer's crosses from the left on Saturday.”
Palmer has been with the club since 2010 and has been a key member of their defence for the last few seasons. Has Jack Hunt for competition for the right-back spot, but has been used on the other side as well.
“[Jaden] Brown started the season very well and is incredibly hard working. Unless he's got an injury then why is he not in and around the squad”, “Brown on the overlap to provide the width, likes to get forward”, “I genuinely do wonder what Brown did to get dropped.”
Brown is another player who has dropped from the Championship to League One, replacing the outgoing Matt Penney. Played a fair amount of games at Huddersfield Town last season, but has fallen behind Hunt and Palmer, despite being the only left-footed full-back.
“Not great crossing, no major errors, but badly ran out of steam”, “Hunt scares me, gets caught out and plays too many short hospital passes into midfield”, “I thought he was awful. Needs dropping.”
Summer signing Hunt was released by Bristol City at the end of last season and adds some key experience to Wednesday’s squad this season.
“Untroubled first hour, and gave some impetus towards the end, but not at his best”, “Iorfa is definitely a player who has so much potential”, “Started the season so well, but has been awful in the last two games.”
Ex-Town loanee Dominic Iorfa has been transformed from a marauding right-back to a strong centre-half since his arrival at Hillsborough. Has the potential to go far in the game, but needs to iron out a few issues before he can make that jump.
“Can’t pass a ball out, good at the heading, good at the kicking, dreadful at football”, “Dunkley and Iorfa both have days where they switch off, lose concentration and neither are capable of marshalling a backline. We look so much more organised with Hutch in there”, “Big Dom strides over and dusts past them in second gear, too good for this league: top class.”
Iorfa has formed partnerships with Hutchinson and Dunkley so far this season, and looks to have more success with the former. Whoever partners Iorfa on Saturday will be telling for how the Owls perform in the match.
“Our player of the season is taking his time to kick in isn't he?”, “[Lewis] Wing for me has been hit and miss”, “Wing needs to get used to not being the best player in the side, it’s different to Rotherham.”
Described as a coup in the summer, Wing joined Wednesday on loan from Middlesbrough after a successful season in the Championship with Rotherham United last season. A scorer of wonderful goals, he hasn’t impressed as much as he did last season.
“[Dennis] Adeniran plus one other and just win the middle of the park and allow a forward three to thrive”, “Plenty of good moments, had less impact and energy than in earlier games”, “Another good game from him, let's not overlook that just from the loss. Naive a couple of times with some heavy touches, but full of energy.”
Adeniran spent last season in the Championship with Wycombe Wanderers, but has also made the decision to step into League One this season. Looks to be one of the Owls’ strongest midfielders available.
Free transfer George Byers has some League One experience under his belt, having spent the second half of last season with Portsmouth. Another midfielder who has more technical ability than physical.
“We will not win anything in this league playing three nice little ball players as our midfield three”, “Has good technique and tackling, doesn't shy away from a challenge. Has a lot to prove after being let go by Swansea and a failed spell at Portsmouth”, “Byers offers nothing in that position for me.”
“[Fisayo Dele-Bashiru] looked a beast; pace, power and drive. Albeit against weak opponents, I think he’s a top prospect”, “I'd give him a run out while [Massimo] Luongo is out. Looked decent in the pizza cup. Brings pace and power to the middle”, “Moore should judge him in training, if he's performing give him his chance if not then don't, same should go for them all.”
Dele-Bashiru joined Sheffield Wednesday last season from Manchester City, but has struggled to make an impact since his arrival. At only 20, he potentially has a very high ceiling in the game.
“Since playing at left-back, I think [Marvin Johnson] has been really good, really supports the attack and plays some positive stuff up top in an attacking team playing on the front foot”, “I was really impressed with his work rate tonight too. Never stopped from first to last minute”, “Johnson was excellent tonight, as I’ve said before, I feel we need Johnson or Brown to play left-back to provide the width and attacking play needed in a 4-3-3 formation.”
Another arrival from Middlesbrough, Johnson provides versatility along the left-hand side of the pitch, being capable in defence and attack.
“Didn’t really offer much. Looks to have pace.” Canadian international Theo Corbenau has joined the Owls from Wolves to gain some much-needed experience in league football. A tall, direct attacker, he has all the credentials to be a top player in the future. “Seen enough already to know he's a great signing. Pace and desire to go at full-backs. I like him, he'll do good here”, “Direct, fast, strong and two-footed.”
“Luongo is wanted by Perth Glory and they are looking to take him back home to Australia”, “Most experienced of the trio but has struggled for fitness. Previously impressed under Monk in the Championship”, “He's beginning to become a worry regarding the number of matches he's missed.”
One-time Town loanee Luongo has been with the Owls since August 2019, but has been dealing with numerous injuries that have stunted his development. Once a promising talent at Tottenham, he may need a move away to save his career.
‘Put more dangerous balls in (one) than [Kadeem] Harris did all last year. Very unlucky to not get his league debut Hillsborough goal. Always a threat”, “[Olamide] Shodipo looked like a proper winger who is happiest when he runs at defenders. Looks like he will offer significant goal threat as well”, “He’s got skill and can glide with the ball.”
Shodipo spent last season in League One with Oxford United, impressing so much that it was expected that he would go back to Queens Park Rangers and play regularly. However, that did not come to fruition.
“Turns well and looks a danger, gives us more of an attacking threat. Sort of wide forward you need in a front three”, “I must have seen a different game, I thought Shodipo looked poor and off the pace yesterday”, “Shodipo was a clear man of the match yesterday - was well impressed with him. Looked absolutely ready for the first team unlike a few that have been brought in.”
Shodipo was sent out on another loan by the Hoops, returning to League One to try and take Wednesday further than he did with Oxford United last season by helping them back into the Championship.
“Bannan shouldn’t be on spot-kicks in my opinion. Give it to your centre forward to hammer home”, “Bannan’s a good player but our strength is also our weakness, every team in the last three seasons has worked it out: stop Bannan, stop Wednesday”, “I think wide left is still where Bannan can be most effective.”
A club stalwart across multiple managers the last few years, Scotland international Bannan has been one of the best playmakers in the Championship. He now finds himself in League One, bringing with him the reputation as the best centre midfielder in League One.
“Without a doubt Bannan is the most gifted player in this league, but that can be detrimental to the whole team performance”, “Bannan is the predominant midfielder who seeks possession, I’m more worried about the players in our starting XI that just pass him the ball and stop to watch him to do something with it”, “He has great vision and his defence splitting short passes are excellent. Wide left attacking midfield for me.”
However, sometimes it can be detrimental to the squad having someone so talented in a league they shouldn’t be in. The instruction is clear for Town this weekend, if you don’t give Bannan time on the ball, then Wednesday’s main threat is nullified.
“[Florian] Kamberi doesn't have the pace or the skill to be brought on as a left winger, he's literally a centre forward or nothing and that's at a push”, “He’s not a footballer. He’s like a fan who just runs around. His positional sense was pathetic and it almost cost us, however, not his fault he was played on the wing”, “Why was Kamberi on the left?”
Signed from Swiss side St Gallen, Kamberi spent last season with Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership. A strong centre forward, Kamberi hasn’t looked like the player he has the potential to be this season.
“[Lee] Gregory holds up the ball well. Not mobile enough.” Veteran striker Gregory, the third of four Wednesday players linked with Ipswich Town this summer, arrived as the squad’s experienced frontman and as a poacher in the box. “He’s OK but he won’t score enough”, “Gregory is much more effective when we and he attacks the near post.”
“[Callum] Paterson makes me want to remove my eyeballs from my skull. I'm not a huge fan”, “Paterson should be nowhere near the first team”, “Think Paterson brings more to this squad than a lot give him credit for he’s a real grafter with that grit and nastiness you need in games sometime and whilst many can’t call his best position he has versatility think he’s an attacker that defends from the front.”
Another versatile option in the Owls squad, Callum Paterson has seen his career take him from right-back to striker depending on the club’s style of play. A strong option of the bench, Paterson’s aerial ability could make him a dangerous player for Ipswich’s defence.
“Very clever with his passing, skill and movement. Looks a player if we can get him fit and playing and motivated. There’s a real player potentially there”, “[Saido] Berahino looked good, not a winger though needs to play up front in a two”, “Looks as if he will score. May end up more central. Good goal, should have had two. Needs a run of games hope he stays fit.”
Deadline day signing Berahino has gone full circle with his return to England from the Belgian Pro League. Scored against Shrewsbury last weekend and looks to be the Owls’ most potent attacker going into the game on Saturday.
“The only forward player I would back to score on Saturday is Windass”, “He is exciting, makes good breaks, nearly always bursts forward which I like. His decision-making is sometimes poor and often his finishing is poor”, “By far the best forward we had last season in a league higher.”
The fourth and final player linked with Town over the last few months, Windass was one of the first names mentioned with a move when Cook was appointed at Portman Road. Was Wednesday’s top goalscorer last season and is too good for League One.
“I'm a big fan of Windass, he was our biggest threat going forward last season, but what's his role going to be?”, “Be interesting to see where Windass fits in when he returns”, “Berahino and Windass will surely be our best bet for goals.”
However, and fortunately for most clubs this season, Windass has been out injured since the beginning of the season with a hamstring issue. Looks to be returning in the next month, but will miss the trip to Portman Road this weekend.
Sheffield Wednesday Fans on ITFC
“With Ipswich and Wigan to come, things could turn nasty unless results improve.”, “Ipswich fans were calling for Cook to go amidst talk of needing to gel still. Big win today for them. They'll be hoping for a dreadful away side next to keep that momentum going”, “With Paul Cook as manager as well, they have ambition of a return, they are shaping up to be major contenders.”
“New owners willing to put their hands in their pockets and they couldn’t get a better managerial choice at this level. I’ll be shocked if they’re not in the automatic spots at the end of the season”, “Pleased to see Ipswich winning, I definitely don't want them going into the game next week having not won yet”, “Sunderland and Ipswich are all in League One. Unbelievable, Jeff.”
“I really don't know why anyone assumed we would immediately challenge for promotion given the miserable season we had last season, the off-field problems and the turnover in playing staff. You've only got to look at the other so-called 'big' clubs who have struggled to get out of League One to see that it was never going to be a cakewalk”, “There is a huge expectation quite rightly, so he and his staff will be putting in the work behind the scenes to get the balance right I’m sure”, “Still very early days but September will definitely give us a firmer guide to where our expectation levels should be at.”
The main forum for a Sheffield Wednesday fan is OwlsTalk, which is the largest forum that I have reviewed this season and rivals TWTD for their viewership.
Photo: Action Images
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