Owls avoid hotel stay for Boxing Day trip

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GARY MEGSON has played both Father Christmas and Ebenezer Scrooge in the build-up to the festive programme.

The Sheffield Wednesday manager was wary of letting things get too ‘Christmassy’ but, equally, allowed his players to spend last night at home with their families.

Many other clubs spend the night in hotels prior to a Boxing Day away game but Megson felt that would have been counter-productive ahead of today’s trip to Walsall.

“If you are in a hotel on Christmas night, the other people there are all in party moods,” he said. “You can’t join in and you are stuck in a quiet room while the other room is bouncing with streamers and balloons. It is just not the right atmosphere. The players would rather be with their families so we are going to do that but, once Christmas Day is finished, they have to shape themselves.”

Megson allowed his players to stay at home on Christmas Eve but held a training session yesterday.

“It is an important period of the season for all clubs because the games come thick and fast,” Megson said. “You have to try and guard against getting a bit ‘Christmassy’.

“You don’t want to make the place so stark that they don’t enjoy it – but you have to strike a balance and hope the players have the intelligence to realise that our Christmas is in the summer.

“The players all have a programme to follow until January 8 and it is done with a good heart. When they are off, we expect them to behave and do the right things. We are not taking the team away on Christmas night and we trust them to behave in terms of preparation.”

Victory today could increase the pressure on former Owls defender Dean Smith who is also approaching his first anniversary as manager of Walsall.

Walsall have enjoyed just two wins in the last 21 games and are currently a point adrift of safety in the League One relegation zone.

“What we have to remember is where we are, who we are and what we stand for,” said Smith. “We’re competing in a league with Wednesday who get 18,000 (gates) Sheffield United who get 18,000, and Huddersfield. They are deservedly at the top of the league, but the ones at the bottom have to scrap.”