AFTER witnessing his side’s anaemic performance at Oakwell on Saturday, Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk would have been forgiven for drifting his thoughts towards the summer.
Yes, the Championship table conveys that the Owls, statistically speaking at least, still have a sniff of the play-offs, if the EFL overlords do not clobber them with a hefty points deduction at any rate.
But the realists will give short shrift to the club’s serious prospects of promotion and ending their exile from the Premier League which stretches back to 2000.
Wednesday are a side in transition. A number of players are out of contract in the close season and how Monk will be hankering for starting over and putting his true imprint on the Owls squad – after taking over last September.
Then, there is the here and now. Supporters of big clubs do not take kindly to a run featuring just one success in seven league matches.
That became eight at Oakwell.
Monk, who handed debuts to Connor Wickham and Josh Windass and a full bow to Alessio Da Cruz, while also recalling the lesser-spotted Fernando Forestieri, said: “As you see with the league, that is a possibility (play-offs), so we need to fight and push all the way for that – that is the ambition – but there is also a bigger picture.
“We have spoken with the players, they understand it, it is fighting for that future now.
“We have let ourselves down in the last month, but there is no reason for us not to come and have a big push in these remaining games of the season.”
On his side’s performance at Oakwell, Monk, hopeful that Morgan Fox and Massimo Luongo will be available for Wednesday’s trip to another relegation-threatened side in Luton Town, added: “It was a derby and a battle and of course, several players had not played a lot of minutes recently and we are trying to get them all up to speed.
“But we showed threat when we had the right composure. We did not show enough as a team all the way through the game.”
Confident that Cameron Dawson will bounce back from his error at Oakwell, the Owls chief said: “He has made a mistake and it has got them the equaliser. But that is the life of a goalkeeper.
“He knows as well as me and you do not have to tell players when they make mistakes like that. They already know.
“But he will bounce back from that.”
While Monk picked up the pieces of a lame derby showing, his opposite number Gerhard Struber was ebullient with his side’s revitalised performance, while mindful that it did not yield the precious currency of victory.
His Barnsley side are eight points adrift of safety, with the clock starting to tick. But there is still an inkling of hope, just.
The Austrian said: “After this disappointment and frustration at losing games, this was the first step in the right direction. I hope we can bring the points in the next games.
“I am happy with our performance, but in our situation, one point is not enough.
“The mood was top and the engagement and energy from my team was very good and we created a high-intensity game, especially in the second half.
“Every single player gave all what they could in this game in this moment. This was our aim.
“We showed the Barnsley fans a good game and performance and work.
“This is the disappointing reality. It is not easy after playing so well.
“We worked so hard for the momentum and we had a big focus and concentration on set-plays.
“The goal from the opponent was so lucky. But we never gave up after this goal. It was a good next step for the boys, especially my captain.
“Alex (Mowatt) went forward with his performance. Cauley Woodrow and my centre-backs. They played very well.
“When I saw the work from Cauley and Alex, they also worked so hard in the defence.
“Not only when we were on the ball, but off it. Their work together was the Barnsley style and I think that is what the fans saw.”