Sheffield Wednesday must heed the lessons of the past in race for the Premier League

Match-winner: Owls' Massimo Luongo.
Match-winner: Owls' Massimo Luongo.
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If Sheffield Wednesday supporters need a splash of realism after the opening quarter of the Championship season they only have to hark back 12 months.

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Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk (Picture: Steve Ellis)

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At this stage last season, the Owls headed into the second international break sitting sixth in the Championship following an impressive 2-1 away win at Bristol City.

Then, head coach Jos Luhukay was even breaking into a rare smile during his media briefings, and there was a positivity around Hillsborough after the Owls had claimed 19 points from their first 12 games.

Eight weeks later and the Dutchman was sacked, after collecting just a single win in the next 10 games.

A win next Friday night at Cardiff City, 24 hours before their league rivals play, means Monk’s men would actually sit top of the Championship.

Richard Hercock

Lee Bullen took temporary charge before Steve Bruce arrived to finish the season, the Owls finally stumbling home in 12th spot.

Bruce’s decision to jump ship, brought in Garry Monk – after another caretaker spell from the reliable Bullen – and 10 points from his first five games has been encouraging.

Just like at Ashton Gate 12 months ago – when Lucas Joao netted twice – there is a feelgood factor at S6 after entering the international break with a win.

Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic was not pretty, but Massimo Luongo’s goal means Wednesday are just three points adrift of leaders West Brom. The Owls have 19 points – just like last season – but have played a game less than the 2018-19 campaign.

A win next Friday night at Cardiff City, 24 hours before their league rivals play, means Monk’s men would actually sit top of the Championship.

The trip to Wales is the first of three back-to-back games being screened live – Hillsborough matches against Stoke City and Leeds United have also attracted the cameras – all adding to the sense of anticipation at S6.

Monk has done well since his first game – a 2-0 win at Huddersfield Town on September 15 – considering he has been deprived of the services of his captain, Tom Lees, and arguably the club’s most creative talent in Fernando Forestieri.

Defensive lynchpin Lees has not played since August 24 due to a hamstring problem but looks set to return after the international break.

Forestieri, meanwhile, has just completed a six-game FA ban and is available for the Cardiff encounter.

With midfielder Sam Hutchinson also available after serving a one-match ban for collecting five yellow cards, Monk certainly has options at his disposal.

Forestieri could thrive under Monk’s style of play, a more direct approach, and play just off striker Steven Fletcher.

The Scotland striker certainly needs help in attack, with Jordan Rhodes, Sam Winnall and Atdhe Nuhiu struggling to find the net this season and Joao having been sold to Reading.

In contrast, the loss of Lees has been eased by the form of Julian Borner, the German defender who arrived on a free transfer in the summer.

He has arguably been the best bit of transfer business completed by the Owls for several seasons, and alongside fellow centre-back Dominic Iorfa, has limited the opposition to just three goals in Monk’s opening five Championship games.

So the outlook looks promising for Wednesday after the opening quarter but the sudden downward spiral under Luhukay 12 months ago should serve as a warning that the Owls have achieved nothing yet.