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