YOU would struggle to find a squad of players who have collectively underachieved so badly and deflated their supporters so much as Sheffield Wednesday’s wholly deficient class of 2017-18.
A line-up, it is worth remembering, which is top-heavy on established, successful, seen-it-done it-got-the-T-shirt Championship players.
Several have bucketloads of experience at top-flight level too, whether it be in England or Scotland, with a plethora of promotions and individual awards on their CV’s and a fair bit of international recognition under their belts as well.
For it to go so spectacularly wrong this season, even factoring in some ill-timed injury woes, is pretty reprehensible given the talent pool at Hillsborough.
And therein lies the heart of the matter for new Owls head coach Jos Luhukay. How can he tap the buttons of disheartened and demotivated sections of the squad, who – for whatever reason – appear to gone through the motions since the summer?
A squad who have tantalisingly - maddeningly - shown flashes of their true potential against the likes of Aston Villa and Leeds United in 2017-18, only to retreat to abject mediocrity, for the most part.
It is a well-remunerated squad rich with players on big contracts who have criminally short-changed supporters, who are fully entitled to look at the Championship table from the back of the sofa with a deep sense of embarrassment, foreboding and worry at the moment.
Sixteenth place, only six points clear of the relegation places. This from a team that justifiably harboured automatic promotion hopes in August. It is a damning, but fair indictment.
Wednesday need personalities not passengers. Luhukay must now make a quick character assessment of individuals before deciding upon who is here for real and who is along for the ride.Leon Wobschall
All the traditional press conference utterances and messages of hope radiated at Luhukay’s unveiling on Monday afternoon, with chairman Dejphon Chansiri even refusing to rule out a late promotion push, somewhat optimistically.
The initial aims of Luhukay are far more prosaic, but every bit as important.
Quickly sorting out the players who will look him straight in the eye and shake his hand firmly - and whose professional pride has taken a pounding at Wednesday’s fitful efforts this season - from those who are sailing their own ships, will be the first port of call for the Dutchman.
Wednesday need personalities not passengers. Luhukay must now make a quick character assessment of individuals before deciding upon who is here for real and who is along for the ride.
Polite and quietly-spoken at his unveiling, it remains to be seen if the 54-year-old possesses the single-minded approach and ruthlessness in his decision-making to sort out a chronically underperforming squad.
For Wednesday’s sake, let’s hope so.