Sheffield Wednesday v Norwich City - Positive thinking needed to help Owls avoid drop

Sam Hutchinson is a footballer with his head screwed on, or as he puts it, “a 31-year-old man with my own family and my own thoughts.”

Owls' Sam Hutchinson. Picture: Steve Ellis

Six months ago, he was an ex-Sheffield Wednesday player, earning good money in Cyprus after being released in the summer.

Now he is back, fully committed to helping the Owls escape relegation, or if needs be get out of League One next season. That is the threat hanging over them, seven points from safety this morning, plus any Birmingham City pick up at home to Bristol City, with two games in hand by the time they host in-form leaders Norwich City tomorrow.

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In Darren Moore, the Owls have a new manager Hutchinson rates very highly. After two games in his first six days, a week where he most likes to be – “on the grass” – preparing for this one should provide a better representation of what he is working towards.

But the key, insists Hutchinson, is positivity. Moore and his brand of football will help with that too.

“I’ve always been positive during my football career but when you’re on the outside is when you struggle more,” says Hutchinson. “It’s hard for the fans, it’s hard for players, it’s hard for everyone when you’re not doing well. It’s the easy way to go (to be negative).

“The manager we have is going to help us to stay positive. The first time we spoke we were all in the dome (at the Middlewood Road training ground), socially distanced, and you wanted to play for him. He’s been a breath of fresh air.

“I know we’ve lost the two games he’s been in charge but he really wants to do stuff properly and he has a philosophy. The detail he goes into I can’t fault. From what I’ve seen in the first couple of weeks he’s been probably the most professional (manager) I’ve had. I would always say Carlos (Carvahal) is the best because he played me the most and I played my best football under him but I think we’ve really got one for the future, regardless of if I’m here and if he plays me or not.

“You can’t get too high or low in football or in life really or you get into depression. It’s harder at a big club like this. No one expects Sheffield Wednesday to be in this position, that’s why it gets so much attention, but they are and it’s something we have to put right.”

In September Hutchinson joined Patos, but made just seven appearances before his contract was terminated at Christmas, allowing him to return to Hillsborough.

“I had a massive down,” he says. “It’s changed me as a person – for the better. I think if being positive can help two, three, five percent, why not?

“It’s not easy going out there and losing, and you’ve played 11 games in five weeks, but everyone should be positive every day as a footballer because you don’t know if it’s going to be your last.

“It (Cyprus) just completely changed me as a person. I don’t have any anger any more. I spoke to my wife after the first training day (back in South Yorkshire) and said it’s going to be hard but weirdly enough I’m enjoying being part of a squad and fighting for something.

“I just take every day as it comes – we’re in a pandemic, it’s a bad situation, but we’re still healthy, we’re still doing what we love and we need to try and get out of it.”

He could not talk about warding off negativity without flagging up reasons for hope but neither is he deluded. If Wednesday are relegated, he will happily sign another contract.

“As long as it’s mathematically impossible why wouldn’t we?” he says when asked if he still believes. “(Just over) a year ago no one had heard of coronavirus, six months ago I was in Cyprus, there was no way I was coming back to Sheffield Wednesday – anything can happen. We’ve got 12 games so why not?

“To come back and be part of staying up would be the biggest achievement of my career without a shadow of doubt.

“I knew the club was in the relegation zone when I came. I was happy to do it so I would be happy to get them out of that position – if wanted.”

As well as drumming home how he wants to play, Moore has also had an eye out for using players in different positions, something he did very successfully at previous club Doncaster Rovers.

“For things to change it takes time spent together doing consistent, quality work,” he argues.

“I look at individuals and they can play in different positions so I’ve been looking at that. I like them to spend on the training to let them feel they can do it and be clear about it.”

Preparation and positivity – the odds will be stacked against the Owls tomorrow but they have to put them into practice.

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