How has Dave Jones changed Sheffield Wednesday’s style of play?

Sheffield Wednesday beat Preston 2-0 which sounds quite comfortable but they were made to work for their three points and Dave Jones will be very happy with his team.

Jones likes his players to keep the ball on the floor

So, what has Dave Jones done to make Sheffield Wednesday into a free scoring side as they have scored in every game he has been in charge and have looked a lot more threatening in recent weeks. First of all though, I would give some credit to Megson for this as he brought in the players who are able to play a long ball game and if things aren’t going well you need other options, especially when the passing game isn’t working and you can’t break down a defence. A lot of teams come to Hillsborough and just sit back and try and get a draw, like what Preston did, and they will succeed if their team is organised and committed for a full 90 minutes against a passing side unless there is a moment of brilliance from someone and sometimes the long ball can cause confusion and is good to have both options.

Onto Dave Jones, what has he actually done for Wednesday or is it simply just the honeymoon period a lot of managers get when they take over? Well to me what he has done is brought in his own style and made the players play his way from the off. He plays with two out and out wingers which straightaway forces back the opposition and makes their fullbacks reluctant to push forward as much. When you have Michail Antonio on one side and Jermaine Johnson on the other you know that if these players have the ball they will take on the opposition and create chances especially on a counter attack.

Jones has also brought in Nile Ranger who is a very good player but maybe has an attitude problem at times. Ranger, is direct and has pace to burn which just adds to teams ability to counter attack. Something that may have been missing under Megson, as his tactics were to keep the pressure on hopefully the opposition will crumble. I cannot imagine Jones playing David Prutton out of position on the wing as Megson did because it wouldn’t work with his style of football.

Gary Madine scored both the goals and looked very impressive throughout linking up the play well. He probably enjoys the way the team are playing now because he doesn’t have to challenge as much in the air anymore and can receive the ball into feet and have a lot of runners going either side of him. But yet again, Megson’s style of football probably taught him a few things and his second goal showed that with it coming from a long throw and him making a good run and attacking the ball powerfully.

Rob Jones picked up a yellow card which means he is now suspended which could be a blessing in disguise in my opinion as he does look to send it long too often whereas his partner against Preston, Miguel LLera, looked to play it out from the back and it was clear to see which way was more effective. With Danny Baath also having a great season and more of ball player than Jones, he may find himself frozen out of a Dave Jones side.

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Sheffield Wednesday sign Reading winger Michail Antonio

Sheffield Wednesday have signed 21 year old winger Michail Antonio to help get their promotion charge back on track after a miserable couple of weeks.

The winger has signed on loan from Reading until the end of the season after it was revealed that Jermaine Johnson is currently struggling with an injury which could keep him out of action and with the Sheffield Derby just round the corner, the Owls fans know they need some creativity in the midfield if they are to beat the Blades at Hillsborough and this is exactly what Antonio will give them. Megson would have loved to have been able to play both the wingers as they would have scared the life out of any defence in the division with their direct running and pace.

The young winger has played in League 1 before with both Southampton and Colchester and performed quite well, impressing in many games and looking like he could make the difference in crucial games. The fans of every club have taken to him very well even though he has only had short spells there with managers wanting to take him off Reading permanently. But the Royals have rejected any enquiries as they see him as a player with massive potential and one for the future at their club.

He is at Wednesday now and they will be hopeful that between now and the end of the season he can replicate what Ben Marshall did in the first half of the season. He does have the potential and will not be worried about playing in front of large crowds as he has already experienced these in his short career so far. This season he has played 16 games in League 1 and scored four goals which isn’t a bad record for a winger and shows that he can put away chances when he gets the opportunity and is not only in the team to provide assists.

The player and club will be hoping that the team can get themselves into the automatic promotion places by the end of the season but if they don’t and have to go through the playoffs then it could be another chance for Antonio to score on a big stage because he has already scored one goal at Wembley when playing for Southampton in the JP Trophy final in a comfortable 4-1 victory.

The Owls fans needed a lift more than anyone before the Steel City Derby and hopefully this transfer will excite them and make them more confident of victory. The last few weeks have been close to disastrous but maybe this can be the catalyst to a brilliant end to the season and dispel any rumours that Milan Mandaric is losing patience with Gary Megson.

It is getting closer and closer to the big kick off and now United have another player to worry about which they didn’t expect and may have to change their game plan so Antonio doesn’t have a debut that the Wednesday faithful will be talking about for years to come.

Do Sheffield Wednesday have the bottle to get promoted from League 1

Sheffield Wednesday are in danger of throwing away all of their good work throughout the season after suffering three defeats in a row against Exeter, Stevenage and now Chesterfield.

The game against Chesterfield was supposed to be a warm up to the big derby game against Sheffield United next week but with their recent results this could possibly be the worst upcoming fixture which is surprising as a few weeks ago the fans were all hoping the game would come quicker, this just shows how quickly football changes.

So, it’s down to the players and Gary Megson to prove they have the bottle in one of the biggest ever games to be played in the third tier of English football. This will not be easy but it could galvanise the team and a win could catapult them up the table and on a long unbeaten run so the fans need to get behind the team even though I can imagine a few of them are wishing they never purchased tickets for the game now. Another worry for Wednesday is that Jermaine Johnson had to go off in the first half against Chesterfield and he looks to be the only player that can produce a moment of magic.

Why have the Owls struggled recently, is it because of the manager and the way he wants to play? Or is it because Megson doesn’t know his strongest team?  Is it because of the players?

It’s obvious Megson doesn’t know his strongest team with him changing his line up regularly in recent weeks, most notably at centre back with him being unsure whether to partner Danny Baath next to Rob Jones or Miguel Llera and with this uncertainty in a very key area of the pitch it is no surprise that the team have started looking more shaky than usual at the back. Another position he is unsure of is equally important and that is upfront. Gary Madine looks out of sorts since coming back from injury, Ryan Lowe has not hit the heights expected and looks like he is lacking a bit of confidence. Then you have Chris O’Grady who will work hard but the goals have never flowed for him and Clinton Morrison who still on his day can produce some magic but this has been far too infrequent for the fans.

He has problems in all departments, even goalkeeper where he has to choose between Stephen Bywater and Nicky Weaver and I know competition is good but sometimes you just need to have a number one so the keeper knows the manager has 100% confidence in him. The midfield is a real worry, David Prutton has been put on the right wing and will not influence the game from that position and will not add any threat from the wing. Mike Jones signed from Bury in January but he has hardly had a kick and it seems that if Megson wanted him then he would have been well down the list he gave to the chairman to replace Ben Marshall.

So do Wednesday have the bottle to get out of this division this season. We will certainly find out against United in front of a packed stadium.

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.

Praise for Sheffield Wednesday fans

The support of Sheffield Wednesday has never been in doubt but the Owls have probably even surpassed their own expectations by selling out a game in League 1. Yes it is the Steel City Derby but this is still an astonishing achievement as teams in the Championship and Premier League will be looking at Hillsborough in envy when the two sides take to the field, only wishing they had the same passionate support as the blue and white half of Sheffield.

What makes it even more remarkable is that the game has been sold out a whole month before the fixture is going to be played. League1 will never have seen a fixture like this and will probably never see it again. 12,500 seats were sold within three days of going on general sale which means that the fans know the importance of this game because it is not only a local derby but the two teams are currently level on points in the league and pushing for an automatic promotion place.

This is most certainly the most anticipated derby for a long time as both sides know that it could determine which division they are playing in next season. However, Wednesday need to make sure they keep up their good run at home as lately they have been beaten by Charlton and let a lead slip against Hartlepool, but other than these results their home form has been close to impeccable. Gary Megson though needs to keep his players minds focused because they have some crucial games coming up including games against promotion rivals MK Dons and Stevenage. Also they have a game against Chesterfield scheduled for the week before the big derby which will be their opponents biggest game of the season and therefore they will be up for it.

The January transfer window will be closed by the time the game comes around and the players that are brought in and sold could be vital in which team wins the game. With plenty of Blades players linked away from the club, such as Ched Evans and Stephen Quinn, the team could be substantially weakened for the rest of the season not just for the game against Wednesday.

Wednesday also seem to be linked with a few players and could be in need of a more creative midfielder with the latest being Ferrie Bodde. Who was very influential in getting Swansea promoted from this division but has suffered horribly with injuries in the last couple of years. The long running transfer saga of Ben Marshall needs to be sorted too as they either need to sign him or bring in someone to replace him as they look short on the wings. However, fortunately for the Owls it seems that Jermaine Johnson is beginning to find the kind of form which will frighten the life out of the Sheffield United defenders. With two wonder goals against Hartlepool and Scunthorpe he could be seen by many as the important player in the match. As all Wednesday fans know he can be infuriating with his sometimes poor final ball but they also know that he is one of the few players at the club to get them off their seat and when he gets the ball against United there is always an expectancy from the fans. Which could be crucial when the stadium is full and if Johnsons is flying the crowd will be too.

So back to the fans, this is a tremendous effort for a team that has struggled over recent years but the fans have stuck by the club and continue to support in huge numbers which makes Sheffield Wednesday still one of the biggest clubs in England. The players need to realise how lucky they are to play in front of this magnificent crowd and it is time for them to deliver.

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.