Sheffield Wednesday have avoided a mis-step by steering clear of Nico Schulz signing - Stuart Rayner

When I called Sheffield Wednesday "experts in shooting themselves in the foot" in Monday's Yorkshire Post, it was half a mind on what was looming on the horizon.

It is uncanny how good the Owls have been in recent years at getting into a good place, then destroying it with a bad decision, poor transfer window or unwise comment.

They are in a good place now, having recovered from a transfer window which seemed to irritate manager Danny Rohl and coincided with a wobble in results, then from a 4-0 collapse at relegation rivals Huddersfield Town.

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Since then, their record is played four, won four, with one goal conceded. That will be severely tested at home to Leeds United on Friday but you would not bet against the Owls leaving the relegation zone, rather than the Whites getting back into the automatic promotion places.

Signing Nico Schulz, a free agent left-back who trained with them in February, seemed like a classic Wednesday misstep but thankfully at the last minute they pointed the rifle away from their toes.

Schulz, inset, has 12 Germany caps and played 40 times for his last club, Borussia Dortmund.

At only 30 years-old, a fully or even largely-fit Schulz would enhance a side at the wrong end of the Championship who have struggled at left-back all season. The Owls loaned Kristian Pedersen on February's deadline day to play there, only for him to pick up an injury after less than 90 minutes of football.

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The problem was not Schulz the footballer, it was the baggage he came with.

ON THE MARKET: German international Nico Schulz trained with Sheffield Wednesday in February in an attempt to win a contractON THE MARKET: German international Nico Schulz trained with Sheffield Wednesday in February in an attempt to win a contract
ON THE MARKET: German international Nico Schulz trained with Sheffield Wednesday in February in an attempt to win a contract

He broke off training at Middlewood Road last week to answer a criminal complaint by his former girlfriend of multiple cases of domestic violence in a German court. In addition to the undisclosed damages he paid his ex-girlfriend beforehand, he was told to fork out around £130,000 to five charities. If he does so in the next three months, the case will close. But in the court of public opinion, these things drag on long beyond the banging of a gavel.

Unfortunately in football, what you can and cannot get away with is largely decided not by morals, but ability. From poor time-keeping to criminal behaviour, the bar of acceptability moves according to whether you are a lowly youth-teamer or star player.

Last year, in an off-duty moment with a Yorkshire manager, he joked about the rogue's gallery of players he signed in the past, arguing no one was too despicable to turn out for one of his teams if they did the business on a Saturday.

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Some Wednesday fans would have seen Schulz's signing in a similar light and others would have made the case for second chances. But a section of the fanbase made it clear they would not.

It is fair to assume the dressing room would have been split too.

Free agent signings in March are always risky. Schulz, released from his contract a year early by Dortmund last summer, has not played first-team football since May 2022.

When he has paid his fine he should be free to get on with his life but this was too big a risk.

For once, in saying no thanks, Sheffield Wednesday have not been their own worst enemy.

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