Marshall: It’s make or break

Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Athletic.....Is this the farewell handshake Owls boss Gary Megson with Owls Ben Marshall in possible his last match for the Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Athletic.....Is this the farewell handshake Owls boss Gary Megson with Owls Ben Marshall in possible his last match for the Wednesday

No player is greater than his team or club, but some are more important than others.

It is essentially a team ethic, rather than individual flamboyance, that has put Sheffield Wednesday in the running for promotion.

But that also underlines the impact of the one individual who has done most to convert immense toil and a sprinkling of talent into victories.

There were 14 of those in the 22 games Ben Marshall played for the Owls. In how many was he the difference between the teams? Not all, but probably most.

So it follows that somehow bringing back the brilliant young Stoke winger is a far bigger priority than would ordinarily be the case for a player who has finished a stint on loan.

It’s probably no overstatement to say the outcome could well mark the difference between competing for automatic promotion and jostling for the play-offs.

Wednesday had begun to depend on Marshall for creativity and a spark. It was conspicuously missing in last Saturday’s home defeat to leaders Charlton and the player was substituted.

But that only served to underline his worth. It also allowed fans to show their appreciation with an ovation as Marshall left the field. He returned the applause but avoided any gesture that would indicate whether he will return, which suggested he doesn’t expect to.

Boss Gary Megson pinpointed the confusion over Marshall’s future for him “not being quite himself over the last two or three weeks”, adding “the sooner it is sorted out the better for him.”

The better for Wednesday, too, if he is back at Hillsborough. If not, Megson has somehow to find a duplicate from somewhere.

Okay, managers are paid to pull rabbits from hats occasionally but, considering the scale of Marshall’s impact, the task would seem next to impossible.

Currently there is reportedly £500,000 on the table from Charlton and Huddersfield, plus interest from Leicester and Hull. Maybe the player fancies one or more of those outlets and is keeping his options open.

The chances of him agreeing a contract with Stoke are receding fast and there is continuing uncertainty over whether Wednesday will join the bidding - unless there is a tactical ploy to leave it late.

But while ever there is a shred of hope, all at Hillsborough will cling to it. Supporters could not have done more to make it happen and chairman Milan Mandaric, to whom the club’s very existence is owed, has acknowledged the clamour by talking of his desire to re-sign Marshall.

No-one can seriously tell him to “get his chequebook out!”

And only those on the inside can know the difficulty and complexity of such situations.

But there is little doubt that the events of the next fortnight could make or break Wednesday’s season.

Twitter@AlanBiggs1