Third time lucky?

LOUIS SHACKSHAFT looks at Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s prospects as they seek a place back at English foot­ball’s top ta­ble…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS - @LouisShack­shaft

Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s glory bid

AFTER fall­ing short in the play-offs for two years run­ning, there is still doubt amongst the Sh­effield Wed­nes­day fans as to whether the club can take the gi­ant leap to­wards the Premier League this sea­son.

Fol­low­ing the con­fir­ma­tion in May that boss Car­los Car­val­hal has ex­tended his stay at Hills­bor­ough, the Owls will be hope­ful of a pro­mo­tion push in the 2017/18 cam­paign as they aim to im­prove on their fourth place fin­ish last term.

Wed­nes­day have been on the rise due to a huge in­flux of cash pro­vided by the chair­man De­jphon Chan­siri, the Thai busi­ness­man who ar­rived at Hills­bor­ough in Jan­uary 2015.

Since then, dra­matic im­prove­ments have been made both on and off the field.

Over £30 mil­lion has been spent on trans­fer fees un­der Car­val­hal over a two-year pe­riod.

This in­cludes the club record trans­fer fee of Jor­dan Rhodes on a per­ma­nent deal from Mid­dles­brough for a re­ported £10 mil­lion. The 27-year-old striker had orig­i­nally been on loan dur­ing the lat­ter part of last sea­son.

Over the last two years, Sh­effield Wed­nes­day have de­vel­oped a solid spine.

Keiren West­wood has of­ten been touted as the Cham­pi­onship’s best goal­keeper and has proven his worth on many oc­ca­sions over the last few years.

The Owls also have a for­mi­da­ble strike force that in­cludes Gary Hooper, Fer­nando Forestieri, Steven Fletcher, Jor­dan Rhodes, Sam Win­nall, Lu­cas Joao and not for­get­ting hot prospect Ge­orge Hirst. son of for­mer Owls star David.

It’s a groups of for­wards that most teams in the league could only dream of hav­ing, but get­ting the best out of them and pro­vid­ing the right sort of ser­vice is go­ing to be cru­cial.

In ad­di­tion to Rhodes, the ex­pe­ri­enced Ge­orge Boyd has ar­rived at Hills­bor­ough this sum­mer.

The Scot­land in­ter­na­tional joined on a free trans­fer from Premier League out­fit Burn­ley after he turned down a new con­tract with the Clarets.

With Cham­pi­onship win­ning know-how in ad­di­tion to his Premier League fa­mil­iar­ity, the 31-year-old winger still has lots to of­fer.

The Owls are for­tu­nate to have a chair­man who be­lieves in sta­bil­ity and mo­men­tum.

Per­haps one or two more ar­rivals as the trans­fer win­dow winds down will de­ter­mine whether Wed­nes­day can make a push for the top two this sea­son.

But it won’t be easy. A 1-0 de­feat at Pre­ston on the open­ing day wasn’t the start Wed­nes­day wanted and 1-1 draws at home against QPR and Sun­der­land hardly set pulses rac­ing.

The likes of big-spend­ing Wolves, Neil Warnock’s Cardiff and sur­prise pack­age Ipswich have all made fly­ing starts and the Cham­pi­onship looks as though it is go­ing to be as com­pet­i­tive as ever.

There is also the lit­tle mat­ter of two der­bies to look for­ward to against arch-ri­vals Sh­effield United fol­low­ing the Blades’ pro­mo­tion from League One last term.

Yet if Car­val­hal can get the best out of the men at his dis­posal, then per­haps Wed­nes­day can dream of re­turn­ing to the top-flight for the first time since the year 2000.

Pain: Fer­nando Forestieri in de­spair at the end of last sea­son Joy: David Jones cel­e­brates with Barry Ban­nan and Adam Reach after scor­ing the Owls’ lev­eller against Sun­der­land

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