Adam Reach believes the Championship has not seen the best of Sheffield Wednesday this season.
That is quite a bold statement, considering if the Owls win their next game – away to Cardiff City a week on Friday – they will go top of the league.
After Massimo Luongo’s goal saw Wednesday beat Wigan at Hillsborough – making it 10 points from Garry Monk’s first five games in charge – the Owls head into the international break just three points off leaders West Brom.
With that televised Friday night game in Wales meaning Wednesday kick-off 24 hours before their promotion rivals, then it is easy to understand the quiet optimism emanating from Hillsborough.
Like Wednesday – a work in progress as Monk juggles implementing his footballing ideas, while still picking up results – midfielder Reach is yet to reach the high standards he set last season when he netted nine goals, mostly stunners which would have graced any goal of the season compilation.
But after opening this season’s goals account at Middlesbrough the previous weekend, Reach turned provider to tee up Australian Luongo for his first Wednesday goal since a summer switch from QPR.
“I am happy with that (assist),” Reach told The Yorkshire Post. “If I can’t get on the scoresheet, then it’s important for the wide players to at least get assists.
“That’s one more for me and a great finish from Massimo, who was really good. There’s lots of positives to take.
“It’s been an okay start (personally). It took a while for that first goal to come and I think for a wide player, the sooner you get that goal you get that confidence.
“I have got that now, I want to play at the level that I know I am capable of, and to do it consistently over a run of games.
“I haven’t managed that, but I will take positives again. Just like the team, I still have lots to improve on. I think the manager can help me do that.
“I am more than capable of getting 10 goals (this season), that’s still my target.
“For me, and the team, consistency is key. We are in a good position, three points from the top. We haven’t played our best football, so that shows there is lots more to come.
“Sometimes you are not going to play well, get scrappy games, but you need to pick up the points. I think we have the squad that knows how to do that.
“It’s about winning four or five games on the bounce and propelling yourself up the league. We can tick this one off and now look forward to Cardiff.”
Pacy winger Kadeem Harris created first-half chances for Luongo, who fired into the side- netting, and Steven Fletcher, who miscued when unmarked at the back post.
But the closest the Owls came to scoring saw Barry Bannan strike the post from 25 yards out. In fact, Wednesday were lucky not to go in at half-time trailing after surviving an amazing goalmouth scramble.
Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood saved from Gavin Massey, who then dragged the rebound clear, but not before Julian Borner had blocked Jamal Lowe’s goal-bound shot.
Westwood would be called into action after the break, too, tipping substitute Keiffer Moore’s header onto the crossbar.
By then, Wednesday had taken the lead. Again Harris caused problems, and when Reach collected the loose ball, he picked out Luongo, who drilled the ball beyond David Marshall.
“I was pleased to get on the scoresheet,” said Luongo. “I always want to improve my goal-scoring record and get it up and just be a threat more. It was not a great game. I couldn’t get into it in the first half.
“I think we needed a little bit of a wake-up call and a push in the second half. We came out flying and pressed well.
“I think my goal was the reward of us working harder and being a bit more assertive in the final third.
“Everyone did their jobs a little better and the result was a goal.”
Bannan saw another long-range effort go close, before Fletcher had one ruled out for offside.
Former Middlesbrough winger Reach added: “It was a tough game, you are never going to get an easy one in this league.
“We made a hard job of it, but we got the three points.
“We played well at times, sometimes a little bit sloppy, but we got three points going into the international break, so job well done. I think everyone can see in large spells we played really well, but it’s about doing it over 90 minutes.
“There’s plenty more room for improvement, but that’s what the international break is for. We will get time to work things out on the training ground.
“We will have a few days off now, go away and spend time with the family. It’s been quite a hectic period.
“We have a good hard run of games coming up, some of them on TV, so we need to try and take some points from them and then see where we are.”