Sheffield Wednesday are promoted to the Championship

Sheffield Wednesday have gained promotion to the Championship after defeating Wycombe Wanderers on the last day of the season.

So where to start, everyone at the club deserves praise from chairman Milan Mandaric all the way down to the fans who were terrific again on Saturday and just proved that their club deserve to be in a much higher division than League 1 and even put most Premier League teams to shame.

But I am going to start with former manager Gary Megson and first give him praise because in my opinion he deserves a lot of credit for what he has done at Sheffield Wednesday, when he joined the club the players did not understand what playing for Sheffield Wednesday meant and that is the reason why they finished in the bottom half of the league. So in the summer he got rid of a lot of deadwood and players that couldn’t handle playing for such a massive club and brought in players that were wanting to fight for the shirt and give the supporters a Sheffield Wednesday team that they would be proud of and in my opinion made the signing of the season in Jose Semedo. At the start of the season the fans probably would have been happy with the playoffs but there was a chance that the team could finish in the automatic spots so Mandaric had a tough choice to make as it didn’t look like Megson could deliver it.

But fair play to Mandaric, he allowed Megson to take charge of the Derby which was a risk but Wednesday came out on top and everyone got to see how much it meant to Megson when being ridiculed by the United fans he lifted up his shirt and showed them his badge. It was a wonderful moment you just don’t see anymore and it was his passion that got Wednesday that far and it will have hurt him that he was sacked but fast forward a few months and he can have no complaints.

Megson is and always will be a proud Wednesdayite

Dave Jones came in and used everything that Megson had given the team and adding to it by changing the style of play but he always knew that if times were tough in a game he could switch to more of a direct approach as his players could do that. He brought in  Nile Ranger and Keith Treacy to help in the promotion push and they all played their part in getting the team promoted with Ranger and another loan signing Michail Antonio scoring the goals on the final day. What more can you say about Dave Jones he only dropped four points and won manager of the month twice, has there been a better start as a manager?

Onto the players and they deserve credit too because they could have let their heads drop and just been happy with a playoff place especially when United had games in hand and were on a good run but they stuck at and kept going. It was a fantastic effort in the end and they were playing with confidence and gave the fans everything they wanted and more.

I am very happy for Wednesday and their fans because they continually support their team even though there has been very little to shout about in a long time. To make it even sweeter for them they stopped Sheffield United getting promoted so could the season have gone any better? Even Sheffield United’s opponents enjoyed Wednesday’s promotion

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Will Reading succeed in the Premier League if they get promoted?

Reading are timing their run perfectly to gain promotion to the Premier League after beating Leeds United and moving to the top of the Championship.

 

Adam Le Fondre may have the strikers instinct to score goals in the Premier League

After beating West Ham 4-2 last weekend the whole team must have been very confident going into the game especially when Leeds were reduced to 10 men after 13 minutes. But they were made to work hard for their win as Leeds stuck at it and defended very well and also attacked on the counter to good effect which made the home fans very nervous towards the end of the game and maybe 2-0 flatters the Royals slightly. Adam Le Fondre stepped off the bench to score twice and prove that he can be the man to fire the team into the Premier League. The signing from Rotherham United hasn’t quite settled in as quickly as the fans would have hoped but these two crucial goals will give him the belief that he deserves to be playing Championship football at least next season. He was expected to score the goals this year but that hasn’t quite worked out, however in his defence, nobody has hit double figures for Reading this season so they have had to rely on goals from all over the pitch with even centre back Alex Pearce chipping in with five goals this season.

If Reading do get promoted, do they have a good enough squad to compete in the Premier League or are they just very good Championship players? In goal they have Adam Federici who in my opinion is very underrated outside of the Championship but he is one of the best in the league and has made some heroic saves this season. Including an important one against Leeds when Robert Snodgrass had the opportunity to score but Federici stood up for as long as he could and palmed it away.

The defence is a mixture of potential and experience. Ian Harte is one of the best footballing left backs and has been his whole career, as it is worth remembering he once played in a Champions League semi final. How many players can say that in the country never mind the Championship? As mentioned previously they also have Alex Pearce who not only defends very well especially in the air, he also adds an attacking threat from set pieces which are usually precisely delivered by Harte.

The midfield is where I think they are at their best, especially out wide where they have many options with Hal Robson-Kanu and even Michail Antonio good enough to make most teams which is remarkable seen as though Antonio is out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. But their first choice wingers are fantastic in Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff, they are both very direct and force full back onto the back foot as soon as they get the ball. In the middle they also have quality in Jem Karacan and Mikele Leigertwood who at every opportunity look to feed the wingers and provide a good screen for the back four as well as get into the box to grab goals.

The strikers is where I think they may fall down as they have good players but maybe not Premier League standard. Jason Roberts has came in and done magnificently but there is a reason why Blackburn didn’t feel he was good enough when they were in desperate need. However there were contractual issues there so maybe he would have played more of a part if that was sorted out. Noel Hunt works hard and has a great leap on him but he was easily marked out of the game by a second choice Leeds defence so they would need to invest in a striker if they do go up.

I really like the way Reading play as they look to cross the ball a lot and force defenders into mistakes. Brian McDermott deserves a lot of credit and seeing his celebration after the first goal showed how much it meant to the whole club. I would like to see them go up and them to achieve some success as the fans have been fantastic over the years and the stadium deserves Premier League football once again.

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.

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.

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.