Adam Reach is hoping history can repeat itself at Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls lost in the Championship play-off final in May – going down 1-0 to Hull City – and have suffered a “hangover” with a stuttering start this season.
This despite the arrival of 23-year-old Reach – a club record £5m signing – and the likes of Scotland international striker Steven Fletcher.
A return of three wins, three defeats and two draws has deflated early-season optimism, but Reach knows from first-hand experience that nothing is won in September.
The winger was in the Middlesbrough team that lost 2-0 at Wembley against Norwich City in the Championship play-off final in May 2015.
Despite a stuttering start to the following season – Boro won just once in their opening four Championship games – Aitor Karanka’s side went on to clinch automatic promotion to the Premier League.
Reach swapped the chance of playing in the top flight for a move to Hillsborough, and is confident Wednesday can emulate Boro’s feat.
“We can handle it (the expectation),” said Reach. “My experience with Boro, the season after we had a sticky start just like Wednesday have done, it is just about the players getting over the hangover of the Wembley defeat.
“Performances have been good and I think the results will follow.
“I’m not worried about where we will finish. I think we will be up there. Wednesday have quality players and the coaching staff know what they are doing.
“It has got a massive fan-base, stadium and training ground.
“Everything is ready for the club to get back into the Premier League but we need to do the hardest part and do it on the pitch.”
Reach has featured three times since his switch from Boro, and admits it was tough to turn his back on the chance to play in the Premier League.
But with a host of big-name arrivals, Reach accepted his chances would be limited.
He said: ”You are always disappointed when you are not playing but they strengthened a lot over the summer with Victor Valdes and Negredo and players like that coming.
“I truly believe I will play in the Premier League one day and when I do I want to be playing week-in, week-out and not just five minutes here or a sub appearance here and there.
“Hopefully, I will play in the Premier League.
“I learned a lot at Boro. It is a great club and was nice to be part of a team on the up. They have obviously got back into the Premier League and I’m hoping to do the same with Wednesday.”
Reach impressed on loan at Preston North End last term, but was tempted to join ambitious Wednesday.
The transition has been smooth, helped in part by the fact both clubs have similar training set-ups, due to both having Portuguese coaches in Karanka and Carlos Carvalhal.
“There were (other clubs interested) but nothing as strong as Wednesday,” said Reach.
“From the moment we heard they were interested, that was really the only avenue we were going to go down.
“I liked the hunger of the team, the manager. They fell at the final hurdle last season, which I also have experience of with Boro. We all know how important the next season is after that disappointment.
“But the club’s desire to get back into the Premier League impressed me.
“It has a massive fan-base, the facilities are good and it is ready to go and compete back in the Premier League and I think that’s the message that the manager has laid over to me and what brought me here.
“There are always similarities when you get European coaches, especially from Spain and Portugal.
“They have similar philosophies on how they want to play and the training regimes are similar so that made my transition from Boro to here a little bit easier.
“The gaffer has his own style and I have enjoyed working with him for the last three weeks or so and I’m looking forward to working with him more in the future.
“I’m 23 now. I’m not classed as a young prospect anymore. I need to start playing games and putting good performances in. I have signed for five years so I have a lot of time myself to improve and help the team improve. Hopefully that will be in the Premier League at some stage. I want to play more games, get more experience and get better.”
Reach has already shown his versatility, playing in his favoured left-wing position in the 3-2 home win over Bristol City, before dropping to cover at left-back – with Daniel Pudil out injured – for the 2-1 loss at Birmingham City.
Today, Wednesday face Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, looking for their fourth home win of the campaign.
Currently sitting 14th, Reach is adamant that a top-six finish is a must for Wednesday.
“I think that has to be the minimum aim,” he said.
“I would imagine the manager and the other players have their own personal goals, but for a top Championship side, promotion is always the aim.
“It doesn’t matter if it is the play-offs. Preferably we would like the top two.
“Hopefully, we can be there or thereabouts and then it’s just down to us doing what we can do.”
Wednesday are looking to make it three successive home wins today.
“We had two fantastic home games, with emotional moments,” said boss Carvalhal.
“To come from 2-0 (down against Bristol City) and win 3-2, it was exciting and we finished the game like we had won the Championship.
“We are looking forward to playing at Hillsborough again.”