Sheffield Wednesday narrowly lost out to Championship newcomers Wigan Athletic on the opening day after a summer of discontent in which they failed to sign a single player due to a recently-announced transfer embargo. What’s the general mood around the club?
Some fans are concerned and others are almost trying to rally everybody to get behind the team, but ultimately the mood is going to go one way or the other. If the team starts to string a few results together, it will become very positive as you’d expect; if the results are not good then increasing amounts of people are going to become worried about the situation.
Six players have left Hillsborough for pastures new. Do you think being unable to replace those players will significantly hinder plans for the season?
Yes. I think that in the last three seasons there was real belief that Wednesday were one of the best teams in the league and would at very least be challenging for the Play-Offs. This year there is a very different mentality. The Owls have got very good players including Fernando Forestieri, Barry Bannan, Sam Hutchinson and Tom Lees, but they are thin in some areas. They play a back three but haven’t got the depth in defence; if they suffer a few injuries they are going to be playing very young, inexperienced players. They don’t really have depth at wing-back, either. George Boyd plays there sometimes but it isn’t his natural position. They sold Jack Hunt this summer so on the right-hand side there is essentially Liam Palmer and a young lad called Ash Baker. Away from the defence they don’t really have a midfield enforcer and they don’t have enough pace. The lack of depth in certain areas, and maybe a bit of quality, is going to prevent Wednesday from being serious challengers for the top six.
Which player should Brentford fans keep an eye on next Sunday?
The club managed to keep hold of Forestieri on deadline day and he’s undoubtedly the primary threat. He’s the best player and the one member of Wednesday’s squad who you would say, without question, would have a great chance of getting into any other Championship XI. Forestieri is a goalscorer who works tirelessly in the final third and has the ability to link and connect. He can play as a number ten or up front on his own – everything will go through him this year. If he stays fit and he’s firing, he’s got the potential to get 20 to 25 goals.
There’s also Lucas João who is a very different player: He’s fast, skillful and has got some size to him, however he’s a bit of an enigma. He’s a player with a ton of potential, but one who perhaps needs to find some consistency.
How are Wednesday likely to set up for the game?
It’s likely to be a 3-5-2 formation with Daniel Pudil, Lees and Joost van Aken forming the back three. Hutchinson – who occasionally drops into defence - will play in the middle if he’s fit, alongside Bannan and probably Joey Pelupessy. The two wing-backs, you’d imagine, will be Liam Palmer then either Adam Reach or George Boyd on the left. Up front it’ll be Forestieri and Atdhe Nuhiu. If not, possibly João and even the returning Steven Fletcher could lead the line.
What’s your score prediction?
I’ll say it’ll be a 2-0 win for Brentford.
Full the full chat with Rob plus interviews with Ezri Konsa, David Hunt and Terry Hurlock, pick up a copy of BEES matchday programme around Griffin Park for just £3.50