IT was the late, great David Coleman who once famously described one of Barry Bannan’s compatriots as being a “hard little professional” after he stepped up to the plate for Scotland in their epic World Cup win over Holland in Argentina way back in 1978.
Coleman’s commentary provided the perfect accompaniment to Archie Gemmill’s wonder goal against the Dutch in Mendoza in June, 1978 and spoke volumes about the quality and tenacity of a diminutive midfielder – and a ‘little big man’ of a Scottish footballer.
It may be different eras, but Airdrie-born Bannan is very much cut from the same footballing cloth as Gemmill, who hails from a bit further west in Paisley.
Both could be defined as go-to-men in the middle of the park. Both also possess similar characteristics in being quietly-spoken and steely individuals whose demeanour suggests that they do not suffer fools gladly. The sort of players who others listen to when they chose to speak.
It was Bannan who offered a telling players’ perspective ahead the mid-table Owls’ trip to Derby County – a potentially pivotal one in the tenure of under-fire Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal.
The Portuguese, under increasing pressure from sections of the support, has come out fighting – and has challenged the Owls to cultivate a stronger mentality after beating the likes of Leeds United and Fulham this season, but blotting their copybook by taking two points from 12 against the bottom four.
Carvalhal’s call for players to stand up and be counted is a fair one and for the senior heads and tough, seasoned professionals – of whom the Owls are not exactly short of – it is as a case of fronting up and accepting that responsibility, as Bannan acknowledges.
Bannan, who spent a loan spell with the Rams earlier in his career, said: “It is our fault, not the manager’s. We have got to look at ourselves.
“It is not the manager’s fault; he is setting us up to go and do things he wants us to do and what we want to do.
“We have got to take the blame, it is nothing to do with the manager. Us as players, we have not been good enough really.
Everyone has had their say and the leaders have stood up and it is just about staying together as a group.Sheffield Wednesday’s Barry Bannan
“You go through sticky periods and we have got a lot of leaders here that people don’t maybe see. Everyone has had their say and the leaders have stood up and it is just about staying together as a group.
“When everyone is having a go at you, it is probably better because when you come out at the other end, it is more satisfying that way.
“Everyone is a leader in their own way and we have all got different attributes.
“Some will show their leadership capabilities on the pitch and some will show it by shouting on the pitch and stuff.”
After those hugely deflating developments at rock-bottom Bolton last weekend, the passage of six full days has at least provided the Owls with plenty of healing time to lament their disappointment and start trying to find some solutions on the training ground.
Several sticks are currently being used to beat the Owls with –and, more especially, Carvalhal.
Wednesday’s poor form on the road and struggles against the Championship lesser lights are two such charges. As is a perceived reputation of being slow-starters after several inhibited openings to games this term.
Specific work on the training pitches has been tailored accordingly, with those supporters who make the short trip south this afternoon awaiting the response.
For Bannan, that means going back to the future.
He said: “We were disappointed at Bolton. We did not really get off to a good start again.
“That is something we have been working on and trying to get better at – getting better starts and trying to take the game to teams. When we have, we have put on good performances.
“It is hard to say why in some games we can and in some games we can’t. We cannot really put our finger on it. We are disappointed.
“Hopefully, we can come out with a better approach and different performance on Saturday.
“There are winners in that changing room. Sometimes, it doesn’t go to plan at times.
“But it is up to us as a group of players to try and find a way to win games, whether it is the way we played last season when the fans weren’t happy as well when we were getting the results.
“It is whether we go back to that and try and really grind out results or whether it is playing the way we did in the first year I was here.”