Sheffield Wednesday striker Chris Maguire has shrugged off the notion that the Owls are still suffering a hangover from their shattering 7-0 defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City.
Since crashing to that loss at Eastlands in the Capital One Cup last month, the Owls have seen their season stall.
No wins in six including that City loss – when all seven goals came in the second half – has threatened to undermine a promising start to the Championship campaign that had seen Stuart Gray’s side flirting with the play-off spots.
Owls’ supporters could be forgiven for pointing a finger at that crushing loss as the reason for a sudden downturn in results.
But Wednesday forward Maguire, for one, refutes that losing to City has knocked confidence in the dressing room.
“I don’t think it knocked us. It was a great experience,” said Maguire, recalling that night when Frank Lampard orchestrated a footballing masterclass.
“I thought the first 45 minutes we held our own, and were probably the better team.
“But their manager noticed that and they got a talking to at half-time, they turned it on (in the second half) and that’s why they are champions of England and in the Champions League.
“It was a great experience for us; we learn from it and move on. It was a bonus game, it wasn’t anything to knock our confidence.”
After defeat to City, Wednesday lost a close contest at Cardiff City 2-1 and were then thumped 3-0 by Watford a week ago. They failed to hold onto leads against Ipswich Town and Leeds United (both 1-1), before a midweek stalemate at Brentford.
Maguire said: “We have gone six without a win, but against Watford they were probably the best we have come up against this season.
“Those draws we had, those late goals conceded, if we can cut them out then it would be the other end you are talking about, and how well we’re doing. We would probably be top if we had cut those late goals out.”
Today, the Owls play host to a team who were playing against Manchester City last season, when Norwich City arrive at Hillsborough.
The Canaries’ season is similar to Wednesday’s so far. After an impressive start, they have fallen away lately with just one win in seven.
But Maguire is expecting a tough test.
“We are at home and need to take the game to Norwich,” he said. “It will be a tough game.
“They have played in the Premier League – you have got to be a good player to play there – but I don’t think there’s anyone that we need to be fearing.”
If Wednesday are to be successful this season, they need to address two key areas: home form and lack of goals.
The Owls have won just once at Hillsborough in the Championship in six attempts – netting just three goals, the lowest goals return on home soil in the entire Football League. Not that Maguire believes the Owls have a problem playing at Hillsborough, where they have dropped points from winning positions against both Millwall and Ipswich Town.
“I think people are suggesting it’s a big issue,” said the former Derby County striker.
“I just think we have been unlucky at home, it’s nothing to us playing at Hillsborough, like we can’t handle the pressure.
“The last few games – apart from Watford –we have been unlucky, we have conceded some late goals to deny us a win.
“It’s not like we are going 2-0, 3-0 down every week and finding it hard to get back in the game. We have just been unlucky in not being able to see the games out.
“The late goals we conceded against Ipswich and Millwall, the goals they scored came through errors.
“It’s fine margins, and we need to cut the errors out if we want to start climbing the league again,” he said.
“Every team wants to win at home and put on a performance for their fans, and we are no different.
“If we had cut some errors out, letting other teams get easy goals, then the fans would have been saying it’s a great run we are on at home.”
On the Owls’ problems in front of goal – they have scored 11 in 13 games in total – Maguire believes with the number of chances being created that an opponent is going to suffer, he hopes sooner rather than later.
“We just need to keep working away, the chances are coming,” insisted Maguire, who has two goals to his credit this term.
“One day some team is going to get a hammering from us, we are going to put five or six past them, like last season against Leeds (who they beat 6-0).”
Stevie May, Atdhe Nuhiu and Gary Madine have been the three main strikers used under Gray this season – the Owls boss failed in his efforts to bring in a Premier League striker on loan this week – with Maguire employed wide right in midfield.
An outcast for so long under previous manager Dave Jones, Maguire is just happy to be back playing, but is itching for the chance to get a run in his favoured No 10 position.
“I would love to play in the position which suits me, but it’s for the team,” he answered diplomatically, when asked what his favoured position would be. “If the manager thinks I can do a job in the wide areas to help the team out, then I will do that.
“My natural position is a striker, or a No 10 in the hole. I like to get on the ball as much as possible.
“Sometimes in the wide area it feels that – this season anyway – I sometimes wander to try and get on the ball.
“If I get that opportunity to play through the middle, or off the front, I will try and take it with both hands.
“I feel that If I am in the position, there’s more opportunities for me to get the ball at my feet and have a few strikes at goal.
“Wherever I am on the field, I feel confident that if I can get a free strike on goal I can hit the target and score.”