Scorelines can give the wrong idea, a false impression. Building momentum and hitting form at the right time are not necessarily about Sheffield Wednesday 5 Norwich City 1.
Impressive yes, ominous for rivals maybe. But if you are looking for a side to steamroller the opposition in the manner suggested by that result, you are watching the wrong one.
Carlos Carvalhal’s Owls are about subtlety, teamwork, craft and flair. About having the quality to punish the opposition in phases of play.
Wednesday produced several of those moments last Saturday despite match stats showing they had less of the ball and only five shots on target, all of which hit the back of the Norwich net.
On Tuesday, against resourceful, come-for-a-point battlers Burton Albion, they were less effective – despite 71 per cent possession, 20 shots and 11 corners. Not surprising really. That stat pattern is not representative of Wednesday games across the board.
Of course, we know what the big players – Fernando Forestieri, Jordan Rhodes, Ross Wallace, Barry Bannan etc. – can do. They will need to keep doing it to make the difference in many matches when, typically for this Wednesday outfit, you can expect possession to be shared fairly equally.
In that sense, last weekend’s goals told us nothing. What for me was more significant was the overall impression, the way Wednesday started and the many threatening moments when they didn’t score.
Ok, it wasn’t followed up in midweek but, looking at the games to come, most will give Wednesday a chance to play the way they like – hopefully with this extra urgency thrown in. There’s Aston Villa away on Saturday, then Reading, Barnsley and leaders Newcastle (with bottom team Rotherham, away, also in the next batch).
Carvalhal is never going to surrender his principles on how he feels the game should be played, nor should he. From the start of his reign he’s wanted back-to-front passing, fluidity and invention.
His style has succeeded well overall.
But the desire to tweak is as unmistakable as it is necessary. Wednesday mixed it from the start against Norwich with some early balls to the front, crosses came in earlier and there were bodies in the box to compete for them. All things that haven’t been happening often enough.
Allowing that Norwich’s need to win suited the Owls, here was evidence that Carvalhal and his players are adapting to what’s required. And I think we’ll see more evidence of that against the better teams.