Alan Biggs at Large: Hutchinson a breath of fresh air - but Owls star needs to rein it in

Sam Hutchinson in typically combative mood
Sam Hutchinson in typically combative mood

Go back 10 or 15 years and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Go back further, the 1960s and 70s, and Sam Hutchinson wouldn’t be anywhere close to a Richter Scale for earth-shuddering tackles.

But in the sanitised world of professional football in 2015, the Sheffield Wednesday midfielder is a collector’s item and therefore a big talking point.

For those who remember with affection warriors of the game such as Norman Hunter, Billy Bremner, Peter Storey and, dare I say, Ron “Chopper” Harris, Hutchinson is a breath of fresh air.

Not that he’s in their “class” for toughness.

For all that, he’s the type of player many modern-day coaches are crying out for.

The term “combative midfielder” has virtually vanished from the game’s vocabulary and many a team is the poorer for it.

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It’s not just that football is short of leaders and characters. It’s short of proper tacklers, too. Hutchinson looks to be all three.

As such, the former Chelsea trainee is a key driver of a new team under Carlos Carvalhal and an upgrade on another throwback player (and still a valued one) in Jose Semedo.

But, as we know, Hutchinson is now grounded until December 1st as he spends the international break contemplating a two-match ban for accumulating 10 yellow cards in 15 appearances for his second suspension of the season.

Now that is simply too many, regardless of naturally protective comments from his coach.

Yes, Carvalhal is right to be wary of diluting Hutchinson’s dynamic as a “midfield destroyer,” to use another old-fashioned term.

But the game won’t change, so Hutchinson has to, says former referees’ chief Keith Hackett. And it’s more a question of decision-making and judgment.

For Hutchinson to remain effective for Wednesday, he has to curb his exuberance when it comes to wild lunges for balls he cannot win.

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His lay-off is useful, if not to his team, as a time for reflection.

The inevitable suspension could have been earlier, and longer, with Owls-supporting Hackett, now fronting the You Are The Ref website, adamant that the 26-year-old should have been sent off in the first half of the Capital One Cup triumph over Arsenal.

“That old-fashioned tackle where a player launches himself off the ground is no longer acceptable, especially when he has distance to make up,” warns Hackett. “Hutchinson is a very good player who is leaving himself exposed.

“Can Sheffield Wednesday afford to lose him?”