Everything’s looking positive for the Owls. If I’m wary it’s only because football has a funny way of leaving you with egg on your face. We have a resident Blade in our office and I’m keeping my mouth firmly shut this week. He says second place has always been United’s to lose and now the boot is on the other foot.
Most people, me included, expect Wednesday to finish the job against Wycombe. But stranger things have happened where relegated teams are concerned. A couple of seasons before I arrived here, the Owls suffered the same fate in the second tier and then beat Burnley 7-2! For Wycombe in their circumstances, Hillsborough will be a fantastic environment. A day out and no pressure.
But don’t get me wrong. I have 100% faith in the manager and players at Wednesday to get the result. It’s just that I’m not tempting fate and intend to keep my feet firmly on the ground until just before five o’clock on Saturday. The biggest factor can be the crowd. If the Owls score early I think they’ll win comfortably. If United get an early goal at Exeter and Wednesday haven’t scored by half-time, that’s when anxiety can be natural. But it’s also where the crowd can be important.
The players will know what’s happening elsewhere and it’s a question of their mental strength. But I feel they’ve done the hard bit and will finish the job. One tough call facing Dave Jones is whether to bring back Jermaine Johnson or go with Keith Treacy on one flank, as he did at Brentford. JJ and Michail Antonio are unplayable for speed at this level. Treacy is quality with his delivery on set-pieces and can open up the play; JJ is a big game player. I’ll sit on the fence by saying that I’m sure neither player would let the manager down.
Finally, I’m 100% with Brian Deane on his comments last week. I want to see both Sheffield teams promoted, I really do. They have been a credit to the city. I’m sure that Wednesdayites will have their laughing period if the Owls win on Saturday. But it would be disappointing to a lot of people if the one fixture everyone looks for isn’t there in the Championship next season.
There will be a few who’d miss that, even if they won’t admit it. Outwardly, I’m sure the 37,000 Owls at Hillsborough will show their delight that the Blades haven’t made it given the right result - but deep down I think it will be a different story. And I’d certainly love to see United go up as well.
@BullenFootball was talking to @AlanBiggs1. Follow them both on Twitter. Next week: Brian Deane (@deanobri1968)