Sheffield Wednesday v Wigan Athletic – Steve Agnew quick to identify where Owls need to improve

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Steve Agnew believes an injection of pace would improve Sheffield Wednesday’s attacking threat.

The Owls are understood to be in talks with Fulham winger Neeskens Kebano to bring some much-needed speed to their forward line.

Caretaker manager Agnew – standing in until Steve Bruce takes charge on February 1 – admits a shortage of goals since he arrived at the club is an area of concern.

The Owls have managed just six goals in their last eight games and have failed to score more than two goals in a game all season.

Allied to the damning statistic that only bottom-of-the-table Ipswich Town have conceded more goals in the Championship, the problems behind Wednesday’s stuttering season – and the departure of manager Jos Luhukay last month – are all too obvious.

“Anything to do with January, transfer ins and outs, they are conversations I leave to Steve Bruce and the chairman,” replied Agnew when asked about links with Kebano.

Sheffield Wednesday's Steve Agnew, pictured with Stephen Clemence, says transfers are beyond his remit (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

Sheffield Wednesday's Steve Agnew, pictured with Stephen Clemence, says transfers are beyond his remit (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

“I am just here to prepare the team for the next game. It’s not my remit, it’s not something I have been particularly involved in.

“The one thing I would say, for a team to attack and hurt the opposition, create more chances, then pace in any team frightens defenders.

“If there is an injection in the team at some point then I am sure it would make us a better team.

“In the short time we have been here, even just before we came in, we probably haven’t scored as many goals as we would have liked.

It’s a competitive league and we have to be organised. No team has success without being organised. We do need a certain amount of time to turn things around, to eventually have a team play how we want them to play.

Steve Agnew

“That’s something we continue to work on. All aspects of attacking play, to try and get the players – and the supporters – to enjoy the game, to take it to the opposition.

“But at the same time it’s a competitive league and we have to be organised. No team has success without being organised.

“We do need a certain amount of time to turn things around, to eventually have a team play how we want them to play.

“But equally, we put demands on the players to show supporters that there are parts of their game which are improving.

“You need a bit of luck, but let’s hope (against Wigan) we do create one or two more chances and we take them.”

With Wednesday facing a possible second transfer embargo in March, due to the English Football League’s Profitability and Sustainability rules, Bruce’s options to bring in new players look limited.

But Agnew believes there is enough quality in the Owls squad to be successful in the Championship.

And he does not anticipate Wednesday selling any of their star players this month to ease their financial problems.

“When Steve first came in and met the players he did say there was a clean slate for everybody,” he said.

“He is very much a man of his word, and he will stay with that. I don’t think we will be in any rush to move players on.

“From coming in a couple of weeks ago they all feel part of it now, whether it’s an Under-23s game, involved in training, a match-day squad, or actually starting.

“We want to keep the group together and everybody in a positive frame of mind.”

Asked about owner Dejphon Chansiri’s midweek statement claiming another transfer embargo was “inevitable” unless the Owls could improve their finances, Agnew replied: “It’s not really my remit. The priority for myself, Stephen Clemence and Lee Bullen is to look after the players, prepare and coach them for the next game.

“Our focus has to be on that to get the results that we want. Anything other than that we will leave to the chairman and Steve (Bruce). The conversations the owner and Steve Bruce have had are private.

“There’s a group of players there that just needs to find some consistency. The talent is there.

“There’s a terrific team spirit, everybody is together, and we are working every day on attacking play to try and score more goals.

“More than anything the demands which Steve Bruce will bring will be a work ethic and intensity that you have to play at to win football matches in this league. That is probably our prime target, or one of them.

“Can we play with an intensity, a tempo, a speed of the game from now until the end of the season? If we maintain that I think performances and results will follow.”

Agnew has been in constant dialogue with Bruce since taking charge.

It is fair to say the post-match telephone call after their FA Cup win at Luton Town on Tuesday night – which secured a lucrative trip to Chelsea – was far more enjoyable than the one that followed a 3-0 humbling at their former club Hull City in the Championship last weekend.

“The conversations I have had with Steve have all been positive,” said Agnew. “The Hull performance wasn’t what anybody wanted, but I spoke to Steve after the Luton game and he was pleased to see that we got through to the next round of the FA Cup against Chelsea.”

The Owls currently sit 16th in the Championship – 11 points adrift of the top six – meaning any late challenge for the play-offs, with 19 games remaining, needs to start today with three points against a Wigan team who have just one away all season.

“I think they are a group of players who lost their way, for whatever reason, and they needed a bit of guidance,” said Agnew.

“Over the Christmas period they did have some momentum. Okay, the game at Hull wasn’t what we expected, but the message we are sending out to the players is, ‘we want you to go out and enjoy your football, play on the front foot’.

“It does take longer than 10 days or two weeks to get your messages established into the team and performances.”