Questions have been asked by supporters of Sheffield Wednesday multiple times this season regarding the mental strength of the players and their commitment to the cause. For the most part, these concerns raised their head as numerous leads have been surrendered late into games, with the match against Stoke City a prime example.
The game against Michael O’Neill’s Stoke at the Bet365 marked the start of three defeats in six days for Wednesday. Confidence in the team was understandably at an all-time low, especially with the prospect of facing off against Premier League outfit Brighton and then high-flying Leeds on the horizon.
After three defeats on the spin, it’s fair to say the expectation from supporters for us to turn the tide, and potentially their faith in Garry Monk and the players was low. However, together, Wednesday have managed to pull off two fantastic victories. They’ve kept clean sheets in both games too, defending leads, and we’ve also seen the emergence of Osaze Urhoghide.
In my opinion, especially after the Leeds game, it proves we do have players with the right character and mentality within the squad. I’m not saying there won’t be further setbacks because ultimately there will. The Championship is a division where most teams lack consistency, and as we know, anyone can beat anyone on their day.
The recent resurgence coincides with Garry Monk making changes where playing personnel is concerned. Monk is a shrewd manager, and is now, in my opinion, proving to be a good judge of character and ability. He mentioned there being “food for thought” following the Hull defeat, the third reverse in six days, then went on to make six changes against Brighton. Yes, adjustments will have been in mind, but what he saw against Hull will undoubtedly have played a part in his thinking.
The Leeds game saw two changes made, one of which was enforced, due to Steven Fletcher’s knee injury. It strikes me that Monk is a manager who will give those deserving of a start or minutes the nod, rather than picking on ability alone. Those who have come into the picture over the last two games have repaid his faith in them and moving forward I think this is the approach to take.
Yes, there will be bumps in the road. However, if players know that unless they prove their worth, they won’t be playing, it should yield better results and more success in the long run. Credit to the players for stepping up, and to Garry Monk and his staff for making the right changes at the right time.