BARRY BANNAN believes Sheffield Wednesday answered those critics who have accused the players of lacking commitment with the club’s first league win of the season.
The Scottish international scored the opener and then created what proved to be the winner for Tom Lees as the Owls beat Millwall 2-1 on Wednesday night.
After taking just a solitary point from the opening three games, it was a welcome turn of events for a squad who had faced the wrath of supporters when leaving the field at the end of last weekend’s defeat to Brentford.
“People have talked about commitment and if we were motivated,” Bannan told The Yorkshire Post.
“You could see that against Millwall, there were bodies being thrown on the line at the end. We were desperate to get the three points.
“Everyone in the dressing room is the same – we are desperate to win games. That has not changed. There is no doubting what this team wants and you could see that.
Considering we are only four games into the season it was a big, big game for confidence and for the fans. We knew we needed the victory.Sheffield Wednesday’s Barry Bannan
“The last-minute block on the line from ‘Palms’ (Liam Palmer) was typical. Everyone was throwing themselves in front of the ball. We want to win as much as the fans want to win.”
Wednesday’s victory over the Lions was vindication of a huge selection gamble from head coach Jos Luhukay.
By dropping Fernando Forestieri, Sam Hutchinson and Atdhe Nuhiu to the bench and handing full league debuts to Academy duo Matt Penney and Fraser Preston, the Owls chief risked a huge backlash if the night had gone badly.
Instead Wednesday produced their best display of the season with both Penney and Preston impressing hugely.
Penney, who has been at Hillsborough since the age of just eight, said: “I had to take out of it all the fans and the atmosphere. Strip it all down to just the game. It can be hard with all the fans here, but in my head all I was focusing on was the game.”
The 20-year-old’s progress this term has been the perfect antidote to a disappointing loan spell at Mansfield Town in the second half of last season.
A change of manager as David Flitcroft replaced Steve Evans meant the left-back made just a couple of appearances for the League Two side.
“I have had two loan spells and Bradford (2017) was a big learning experience,” added Penney. “I was young when I went there.
“Mansfield was not quite a nightmare, but it could have gone better. The change of manager killed me. I didn’t grow much as a player, but I grew as a person, I had to be mentally strong.
“It was all a learning experience and now I am back here I am enjoying my time.”
Penney and Preston both made a strong case for retaining their place in the starting XI for tomorrow’s home game with Ipswich Town, a fixture Bannan – the standout player on Wednesday night – believes can help give the Owls’ season a further lift.
“The win over Millwall was massive,” added Bannan. “It had not been a great start to the season. It feels mad to say so early, but Millwall was a huge game.
“Considering we are only four games into the season it was a big, big game for confidence and for the fans. We knew we needed the victory.
“It was backs to the wall towards the end, but we showed the grit and the determination needed, which is maybe something we hadn’t shown before this season. It got us the three points.”