Leon Wobschall: Winter is coming...time for Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough to establish an identity

Carlos Carvalhal

THE THREE relegated sides from the Premier League in the bottom half of the Championship table - alongside two of last season’s play-off participants. Do not let anyone ever accuse the Championship of being boring.

For many, it is all a question of identity - or otherwise.

Identity crisis: For Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk, but not Blades boss Chris WIlder.

What can we garner with any certainty from the wonderfully unpredictable and coupon-busting Championship so far this term?

That those sides who are comfortable in their own skin and ethos are the ones currently making hay.

Take Sheffield United. A run-through-brick-walls, all-for-one-and-one-for-all mentality is taking them far.

A relentless work ethic, esprit de corps and willingness to watch each other’s backs has been one of the stories of the Championship thus far and drawn a rewind to the similarly sterling efforts of David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town in 2016-17. It is easy to see why.

What can we garner with any certainty from the wonderfully unpredictable and coupon-busting Championship so far this term? That those sides who are comfortable in their own skin and ethos are the ones currently making hay.

Leon Wobschall

What you see is what you get and you usually know what you are going to get with the Blades, win, lose or draw. They have some talented players, too. It’s not all elbow grease.

Then, there’s Leeds United. Yes, the accusation of them being soft on their travels was a valid one following recently setbacks at the New Den, Cardiff City Stadium and Hillsborough.

But with a trio of clever ball players towards the sharp end of the pitch in the shape of Samuel Saiz, Pablo Hernandez and Gianni Alioski, any running repairs involved providing a bit more ballast and bite behind and not a major reconstruction job.

Leeds have a cogent plan which relies on fluidity of movement and deftness of touch behind a lone frontman in Pierre-Michael Lasogga. It may not work all the time, but it is a plan at least.

Barnsley too have a plan based largely on counter-attack which has had its successes so far this term, even if the Reds remain a bit of a work in progress after a mass summer overhaul.

Hull City’s big idea, more especially at home, revolves around harnessing the wing power of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki. Getting it right away from home is the trick now. But they look to be getting one part right.

And then there are Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday.

Two sides with lofty ambitions and plentiful options at their disposal and squads that would draw many envious glances from many Championship rivals.

But both currently possess a palpable lack of direction, balance and structure. All those options...Sometimes, less is more.

Garry Monk’s spell on Teesside has so far been both underwhelming and a frustrating one and the natives are becoming restless following a summer spending spree of £46m, with the unfortunate ‘smash the division’ phrase uttered by Steve Gibson increasingly looking like a millstone around his neck.

Constant changes of personnel and systems have failed to deliver cohesion and understanding. Boro look vulnerable and their rivals know it. They are currently a side who don’t really stand for anything.

It is similar at Wednesday. A side whose tactics are often muddled and who currently resemble a team of individuals. A side who did not know whether to stick or twist.

Quite often at Championship level, it is not what you have got, but how you use it. Purpose not pound notes. Clarity of thought and not neccessarily currency.

Winter is approaching and the dark nights are approaching. Monk and Carlos Carvalhal better start wrapping up warm.

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