Wednesday stuttering with too many changes
Sheffield Wednesday started the season in good form, 10 points from 4 games with no goals conceded put them at the top of League One and the hope that the newly assembled squad could improve further as they began to gel gave the fans further encouragement.
Since that fine start the form has stuttered and Wednesday have only picked up 11 points from the last 10 games. So where do the problems stem from?
The Owls have been frustrating to watch of late, the tactics seem to have an emphasis on playing out from the back but this has led to struggling to get into attacking positions – Wednesday are in the bottom 6 in League One in terms of chances created and shots on goal.
In the opening month Darren Moore played a variation of 4-3-3, results were good but work was still needed on getting enough players into attacking positions and the central striker was being left somewhat isolated. The squad seems ideally suited to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 approach but they have recently moved away from that. 4-4-2 has had mixed results, 3-4-3 was tried in the home win against Bolton but was abandoned at half-time due to injuries, though the game plan clearly wasn’t working. Recent games have seen the Owls play 3-5-2 and while they have created a few more chances, some players have been shoehorned into unfamiliar positions, the performances have been inconsistent and the Owls have drawn 3 games in a row against sides from the bottom half of the division.
Last weekend in the 1-1 home draw with Lincoln, Darren Moore picked a back three consisting of once centre-back, one full-back and a wide midfielder. Although Marvin Johnson played reasonably at the back, the supposed plan of putting a loft-footed player comfortable on the ball in the centre-back position to increase fluidity of play didn’t work. Lincoln enjoyed more possession of the ball than the Owls at Hillsborough and also managed more shots on target than the Owls.
Moore has also recently talked up the attributes of the opposition, speaking of changing formations to combat the strengths of their opponents and eulogising over the ability of teams that the Owls face. For some this has brought back memories of Alan Irvine’s unsuccessful spell as manager of the club at this level, when too much emphasis was given to what other teams were capable of doing rather than concentrating on the strengths of his own team.
If the Wednesday team is to gel as time progresses then they surely need to play to the strengths of the squad, look to pick a settled team and formation to gain an understanding of and focus more on the threat they can cause the opposition.