While ever a team is in or around the top six in the Championship they are seen to be at a pivotal point. That certainly seems to be the perpetual perception of Sheffield Wednesday.
Which way is their season to go? Or is the occasional blip, as in last week’s 2-0 defeat at Derby, just normal and a part of the process?
In fairness to Carlos Carvalhal, I’d have to say the latter rather than subscribe to the minority view that the wheels are either coming off or need putting on again.
The chances are there’ll be more of these mood swings in the ultra-competitive race for promotion from this particular league. For instance, a win at home to Ipswich followed by a decent return from trips to Ipswich and Fulham will readjust the view.
But it’s also fair to say that, on past form and levels of expenditure, certain standards have been set. These leave only a slim margin for error and right now the Owls are making things a little too tight for themselves.
For a team committed to attack, boasting proven and costly match winners, 16 goals at an average a fraction over one per game is not good enough. Only three times have Wednesday hit two or more, all at home.
Pressure is being applied to a defence in which young keeper Cameron Dawson, to whom no blame is attached in a promising emeregence, has been understudying Keiren Westwood.
For all the arguments over midfield formation and squad rotation, ultimately it’s most about players performing to their levels.
Arguably, from what I’ve seen and heard in dispatches, only two have measured up fully on form and reputation. One is Sam Hutchinson and the other is Steven Fletcher, whose personal circumstances disrupted his earlier impact and who is hopefully poised to reclaim a near enough automatic spot up front. Elsewhere, you can find any number who have not matched previous standards.
These fractions make a difference. They also lend to the encouraging view that, having entered into the promotion picture without playing particularly well, the Owls are in good shape to kick on. Certainly, Carvalhal’s steadfast refusal to overreact in victory or defeat is an admirably measured approach. He never takes you too high or too low.
But there is a degree of urgency now. While being in the top two always looked too big an ask, the owner and the coach still aspire to it. Right now Wednesday are 10 points off Newcastle and seven behind Brighton.
It’s important to keep them within sight at least.
It means that so-called “pivotal point” is approaching sooner rather than later without the scoring productivity to fuel a sustained run of form. Where there should be no doubt is that the Owls have the players to achieve it so let’s hold tight on definitive judgments.