Every now and then cup football throws up great, memorable, unforgettable nights.
Wednesday evening was one of those occasions.
The Owls’ triumph away to Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup made national news. The tabloids carried pictures of goal hero Lewis McGugan on their back pages. Heck, Wednesday were even one of the top stories on Sky Sports News yesterday morning. When did that last happen?!
All that after many keyboard warriors and so called ‘social media experts’ had questioned head coach Carlos Carvalhal’s decision to make 10 changes. Many voiced their concerns over the Owls chief not picking his supposed ‘strongest team’.
Wednesday number one Keiren Westwood, Jack Hunt, Sam Hutchinson, Kieran Lee and Ross Wallace, who produced a man of the match performance against Fulham last weekend, were rested. Some fans asked ‘what is Carvalhal doing fielding a weakened, under-strength side’ and ‘why is he not taking the competition more seriously?’
Contrary to what some media outlets would have you believe, it was not the Owls’ second-string side who beat Premier League opposition. Joe Wildsmith, Glenn Loovens, Tom Lees, Marco Matias and Lucas Joao have featured on a regular basis this season.
In a perverse way, I think Carvalhal’s team selection piled more pressure on Newcastle. The hosts were expected to win, no matter what, but certainly after Wednesday’s wholesale alterations.
Forget for one moment that Newcastle are a club in crisis, lacking identity and look every inch top-flight relegation material.
The Owls did not let the 4,800 Wednesdayites who made the trip down, restricting Newcastle to one measly shot on target.
What Wednesday underlined is the strength in depth at Carvalhal’s disposal. They have two players fighting per position and can cope with any injuries that come their way. It is why Carvalhal has belief, trust and faith in his multi-cultural squad.
The spine of the Owls’ team, as it has been all campaign, was British. Wildsmith, Lees and McGugan are very familiar with the intricacies of English football while some of Newcastle’s foreign contingent gave the impression they would have been happy being somewhere else.
Drawing Arsenal in the next round has further raised expectation levels at Hillsborough, but trying to back up that Newcastle result will be no easy task at Brentford tomorrow.