A round of applause for Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United

Chris O’Grady scored the winner for Sheffield Wednesday in the Steel City Derby but the real winner today was football in general.

I know this doesn’t make sense but every single person in Sheffield should be proud because their two teams were supported fantastically and even though they hate each other, there seemed to be a mutual respect. Both sets of fans were passionate right up until the final whistle and to fill out the stadium is yet another amazing achievement seen as though they are in the third tier of English football, a position neither team should be in at all as they are both far too big for this division.

I was at the game and could see how much the victory meant to every single Wednesday fan as they all sung their heart out for most, if not all of the match, this was not just another game and even the Blades fans that claimed it was knew that they were lying. The derby is the most important game in the season and just the fact you can get one over your rivals means you have to win the game at all costs. Like I said, both sets of fans were amazing and it will be hard to match the passion of them anywhere around the country.

To the game itself and the first half was very even with neither side being able to dominate fully and create many clear cut chances. United had a free kick that hit the bar and bounced down which some people in the Kop were unsure whether it went in. The giveaway to them that it didn’t was the lack of appeal from the players. Other than that there wasn’t much action in the goalmouths but in the middle of the park there was certainly a battle which neither team wanted to lose. Jose Semedo and Chris Lines seemed to be in control but I’m sure that from the other stand, they would say Nick Montgomery and Michael Doyle were controlling the game, this just shows how even it was.

The second half wasn’t much different in the way that there weren’t many clear cut chances but Wednesday were in control and had stepped it up. Or possibly United were happy with a point and sat back? Or maybe Wednesday were so in control that it forced United to play a different way and they couldn’t so a point was the best they could have hoped for. I think this is the most likely as the Blades have played some good football this season but they were just launching hopeless long balls in the second half with most drifting out of play. So, Megson won the tactical battle against Wilson.

Megson’s decision to play Antonio worked out very well as his ball to Buxton was inch perfect and freed the fullback to cross for O’Grady to score the only goal of the game. Hopefully this result will lift Wednesday and make the end of the season enjoyable for the fans as they definitely deserve success.

My final thought is that television companies missed a trick not putting this game on as I don’t think they will ever have the chance again to show the whole country how good League 1 can be and how much the true supporters love their clubs. There are too many glory supporters these days and a game like this may have made them realise who a real football fan is. So both Sheffield clubs deserve a lot of praise for this.

Sheffield Wednesday team against Sheffield United- My opinion

The big game is finally here and Gary Megson has some very big decisions to make, how much does he want to win the game or is it more about not losing for the Owls.

A loss would surely end any chance of finishing in the automatic places and Wednesday would then have to face the dreaded playoffs which are always difficult to predict. Therefore this is the last chance the club have to really put pressure on the Blades and I am going to choose a team which I think would be capable of winning the game

Goalkeeper- Nicky Weaver- Tough choice between him and Bywater but out of the two I just think Weaver has more big game experience and will want to win as he is a fan just like the majority will be at Hillsborough. He is the better shot stopper but maybe his communication isn’t the best. He gets the shirt for me as he is very consistent.

Right Back- Lewis Buxton- Possibly the only position on the pitch that not one person would argue with. The best fullback in the league, very solid in defence and provides a good attacking threat when he overlaps.

Left Back- Reda Johnson- Most improved player in the squad by a mile and although not originally a left back, he is the best at the club. His tough tackling has made him a fans favourite this season but can be a bit rash at times so I do expect him to get booked.

Centre Back- Danny Batth- The young loanee from Wolves has performed to a very high standard and is looking better and better every time he plays with him gaining more experience. Needs to stand up and be counted though as he could be in for a tricky afternoon against the Blades strike force.

Centre Back- Miguel LLera- This was a difficult one as Rob Jones is club captain but I just think at home against anyone in this division when teams will sit back you need one of your centre backs to be comfortable on the ball. This is exactly what he gives you and is no worse than Jones at defending anyway.

Left Midfielder- Mike Jones- This was a tricky one but I believe Megson should attack and play with two out and out wingers, pin back the opposition and go for the victory. Try and get in as many crosses as possible and who knows maybe this game will kick start his career at the club.

Centre Midfield- Jose Semedo- Another one that is not really up for debate, a candidate for signing of the season in League 1 never mind player of the year just at Wednesday. Could be crucial against the Blades midfield as whoever wins this battle will probably win the game.

Centre Midfield- Chris Lines- I would go for Lines because he can provide attacking quality from the centre but can be slightly inconsistent and sometimes games pass him by. In a derby there can be no passengers so it could be a risk but when you are at home you need to go for it. Megson may go for Prutton if he hasn’t been shifted to right of midfield just add extra steel in there but I think that is too negative so Lines gets the nod.

Right Midfield- Michail Antonio- Quick winger who will be looking to impress from the off. He will look to put in a lot of crosses and take on his defender so hopefully he will get involved and gets the crowd going every time he touches the ball. This could one of the most memorable debuts if he puts in a good performance and the team get the right result.

Striker- Gary Madine- Yes he is out of form but he is the top scorer and looked good before his injury. Maybe this is the sort of game that will get the fans back on his side and get back to scoring goals at a consistent rate. Sometimes he doesn’t look that bothered but surely when he sees the crowd before kickoff he will realise how big it is and put his all in.

Striker- Ryan Lowe- Another questionable decision but there is no doubt that when he is confident he will score goals at this level. I believe he just needs better balls from out wide instead of long balls from the back and he will produce the goods. He is an intelligent player and Madine will combine better with him as Chris O’Grady is too similar and that partnership hasn’t worked that well.

That is the team I would choose and there may be a lack of communication at the back with no real talkers in there which could prove costly but just because you can communicate well does not mean you will help anyone. Darren Purse was a perfect example of this, good leader, poor defender. The lineup is attacking and it should be the crowd will get right behind the team and the players will respond positively and it will hopefully spur them onto victory.

What Sheffield Wednesday need for the Championship

If Sheffield Wednesday get promoted to the Championship they were shown against Blackpool that Milan Mandaric will have to invest if they are to survive. They were comprehensively beaten and although they did make seven changes from their game against Yeovil, they clearly do not have the squad depth to succeed in their ambitions.

They do have some quality in the squad with Gary Madine a good goal scorer in League 1 but a question he has to answer is will he score enough goals to keep them in the Championship? Jose Semedo is a very good holding midfielder that loves to break up the play and is difficult to get past. And in Lewis Buxton they have the best right back in the division and should do a decent job in the Championship. Last time they were in League 1 they also had the best right back in the division in Frankie Simek who unfortunately suffered with injuries after they got promoted and the Owls will be hoping Buxton does not suffer the same fate.  Also, in goal they have experience in Nicky Weaver and Stephen Bywater, as well as the promising Richard O’Donnell so they will probably not have to invest in this area of the team.

But they will struggle at the back with Reda Johnson currently doing a good job at left back but may not be seen as a long term solution. In the centre of the defence is where I see the main problem as Rob Jones is very good in the air but on the floor he is slow and was very suspect against the pace of the Blackpool forwards, although he is a very good leader and could be very important in the dressing room. Danny Baath his partner is only on loan from Wolves and if they can’t get him back they will need another as Mark Beevers has been out of sorts for the club, however, he was very highly rated and given a confidence boost he could become a solid defender in the Championship.

Midfield maybe the biggest worry for Megson as he is currently struggling with a lack of wingers, playing players out of position to fill the gap on the right. Wednesday do have Jermaine Johnson who has looked impressive in recent weeks but this could be because he is fighting for a new contract or at least looking to impress scouts from other clubs. But Johnson does provide pace and skill which no other player in the squad possesses and if this isn’t addressed in the summer then he has to stay. Chris Sedgwick is well past his best and shouldn’t be playing in the Championship next season. In the centre of midfield they have David Prutton and Chris Lines who will be good squad players but they should be looking to bring someone in to play alongside Semedo next season. Liam Palmer is well thought of but he does not have enough experience yet.

In the striker department they look like they will struggle for goals in the Championship with Clinton Morrison another one past his best and has struggled even in League 1. Ryan Lowe is untested and is not getting any younger and has not really hit the heights he and his manager were expecting. Chris O’Grady does a lot of work upfront but isn’t a goal scorer and although he will be a useful addition he should not be a permanent in the starting 11.

At the moment this is all ifs and buts because the team has not been promoted yet and still have work to do but they have enough in League 1 to get promoted and I hope they do achieve their goal because they are too big to be playing in this division and their fans deserve some joy for once.

The sleeping giants- Sheffield Wednesday

A fascinating battle is developing in League 1 this season as to who is going to get promoted, but the more intriguing battle in League 1 is who is going to finish highest out of the two Sheffield clubs

Both Wednesday and United are battling it out at the top of the table and after United’s 4-0 win tonight over Yeovil they have overtaken the Owls by a single point but have now played a game more. This is Wednesday’s second season in League 1 and after a disappointing season last year under Alan Irvine, Gary Megson came in and has made the team into a title challenging side, although most Owls fans would have been happy with a playoff challenge given the fact that the majority of players from last year underperformed. Quite well known players were at Hillsborough last season such as Gary Teale and Tommy Miller but both largely failed to secure promotion for Wednesday and eventually finished in a less than satisfactory mid table. The club faced many problems over the season off the pitch and were saved by Milan Mandaric who quickly brought in former Wednesday player Megson who has shipped out players that he felt were not good enough for the club and didn’t have the heart to perform for the team.

They do still have experience in their squad with Clinton Morrison, Rob Jones and Nicky Weaver but it has been the performances of some of the less experienced players that have really caught the eye of the fans and on looking scouts, such as Gary Madine. Megson has used his contacts in the game to bring in young players that are hungry and have a lot of potential. With Ben Marshall on loan from Stoke City, they have a winger that is most certainly a class above League 1 and they will need to keep hold of him if they are going to succeed this season and gain promotion. Danny Batth also deserves credit because he is only a young centre back but he is playing like he is a seasoned professional, getting better and better with each game and produced one of his best performances in the recent FA Cup victory over West Ham.

Possibly the signing of the season in League 1 has to be Jose Semedo who’s work can sometimes go unnoticed as he is a holding midfielder but he has been in sensational form this season and even though Charlton are top of the league, they must be regretting letting him go. He has been a player Wednesday have missed for many years, someone that does the hard work in the middle of the park and brings a lot of energy and desire every time he steps on the pitch.

Wednesday should be looking for promotion this year as they have two solid goalkeepers for this level in Nicky Weaver and Stephen Bywater, probably the best right back in the division when fit Lewis Buxton and a tough tackling left back in Reda Johnson who can also chip in with a goal. In the midfield they have the unpredictability of Jermaine Johnson who delights fans with his mazy runs but also infuriates them at the same time with his sometimes poor final ball, add this to Semedo and Marshall and you have a good midfield even though Johnson has struggled to get in the side consistently this season, they also have Chris Lines who is experienced in the lower leagues and David Prutton who has played in the Premier League. Up front they have many options with the fantastic finishing ability of Gary Madine, the strength and power of Chris O’Grady, the clever and crafty Ryan Lowe and Clinton Morrison, if he can get back to his best, he will score goals in this division.

So their biggest challenge is to get out of the division but first they have to topple the Blades and the way the season is shaping up, it may not be the easiest thing to do but they are still unbeaten at home and this stands them in good stead for the rest of the season. They are one of the biggest clubs in England and it is time for the sleeping giant to wake up.