A LITTLE over three months have passed since Sheffield Wednesday endured the sort of night every professional dreads but the pain has not gone away.
Having held Manchester City for 45 minutes to go in on level terms at the interval, the Owls crumbled to crash out of the Capital One Cup.
Seven unanswered goals followed along with a red card for Kamil Zayatte to leave Stuart Gray’s men no doubt hoping never to clasp eyes on the Premier League champions again.
Tomorrow, though, the south Yorkshire club must make a return trip to the scene of their heaviest defeat in 15 years and striker Atdhe Nuhiu admits a desire to make up for that humiliating night will serve as Wednesday’s inspiration.
“Losing 7-0 hurt us,” said the 25-year-old when speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of taking on the champions for the second time this season. “It hurt us a lot.
“Put it this way, I don’t forget it. As a player, when you leave the pitch with that sort of result, it doesn’t matter who it is against, you have pain in your heart.
“I don’t want that again. No player wants to feel like that. And I will fight to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Nuhiu was a 61st-minute substitute in that September defeat to City. By then, the Owls were already four goals behind and a man down following Zayatte’s dismissal for the foul on Frank Lampard that had led to Ya-Ya Toure beating Chris Kirkland from the penalty spot.
Damage limitation was the order of the day but City still managed to find the net three more times to condemn Wednesday to their biggest hammering since the 8-0 loss at Newcastle United in September, 1999.
On such rampant form, Manuel Pellegrini’s men would have put any Championship side to the sword. This, though, did not lessen the impact of such a heavy loss with it being another 10 games and two months before the Owls were able to savour again the taste of victory in the league.
The two events – a poor run and being thumped by City – look, on the surface, to be inextricably linked. Stevie May, however, does not agree.
“It was a tough thing to be part of,” admitted the Scottish striker. “They have world-class players, as good as it gets. And against 10 men, they are always going to punish you.
“But I don’t agree that the defeat affected us in the league. I know we had a poor run afterwards but it was a coincidence.
“You can’t let losing to Manchester City affect you. Not in the league. You have to treat this game as a break from the league and a chance to be that Cup upset. Which is what we want to be.”
Wednesday will travel to the Etihad tomorrow with one Premier League scalp already to their name this season, the Capital One Cup second round win at Burnley that set up the fateful September meeting with City.
That and a defence which, with the odd exception such as last month’s loss to Fulham, is bordering on miserly mean Gray’s men will not be taken lightly by the Premier League champions.
May added: “Everyone is feeling good, especially after the win at Wigan (on Tuesday night). That was a very good result for us. Wigan deserve to be higher in the league than they are.
“Now, though, we get a break from the league and we want to go and enjoy the game at City. The FA Cup is a special competition and this is one of the best ties.
“The key for us on Sunday will be learning from the previous game. We did well for 45 minutes. And if we can recreate that first half but then take it into the second then we will be okay.
“The red card (Zayatte) didn’t help, though the score was against us at the time. We need to stay resolute as long as possible and then try to nick one.
“If we work hard and get a bit of luck, you never know. We are in decent form at the moment. And I know we were on a good run back then and lost but I think we are looking forward to it.
“It is about on the day and performing. Hopefully, we can do that and be the upset that everyone is talking about.”
May’s sentiment is shared by strike partner Nuhiu, who netted the winner at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night.
“Belief will be a big thing for us,” he said.
“City have world-class players, they play in the Champions League and we respect them. They are a really, really big club and we want to match yourself against these sort of players.
“Sometimes, it is the little details that decide games. If we do those better and have a good day, we can have a good result. I hope to win but if we can get them back to Hillsborough it will be a good result.
“We will then have 40,000 people, a full house. This is what I want to see.”
Jovetic set to be focus of City’s attack
STEVAN JOVETIC is likely to continue leading the line as Manchester City host Sheffield Wednesday.
Jovetic, who scored in the New Year’s Day win over Sunderland, is the first of City’s trio of strikers injured in December to return to action.
The Montenegro international was hampered by a hamstring injury and could only watch as City fielded James Milner as a makeshift centre-forward while Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko were also out.
He returned to action as a substitute in Sunday’s draw against Burnley and now hopes for a run of games.
The 25-year-old said: “I feel good, that is important. It was my first game for two weeks to play from the beginning.
“I think because of that I came off for the last 20 minutes, but I feel better and every game I will get better.”
Dzeko was injured in the warm-up prior to the win at Leicester on December 13 while Aguero, who has scored 19 times this season, suffered knee ligament damage against Everton the previous week.
Jovetic on the scoresheet against Sunderland with what was a clever goal. The striker supplied Gael Clichy on the left and then burst forward to tuck in the Frenchman’s cross from close range with a deft touch.
City are also still without captain Vincent Kompany (calf/hamstring).
Midfielder Fernando is available again after suspension but Yaya Toure could be involved for the final time before joining up with Ivory Coast for the African Cup of Nations. Second-choice goalkeeper Willy Caballero is likely to keep his place.