Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Owls puzzle is slowly coming together

Callum McManaman

Callum McManaman

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As we have repeatedly seen in football, things can change very quickly.

The manner in which Wednesday were dumped out of the FA Cup left an air of despondency hanging over the club.

Promotion back to the big time remains the top objective but a cup run wouldn’t have gone amiss.

After holding their own in the opening 45 minutes against Middlesbrough, the Owls’ second half display left a lot to be desired. Elementary defensive mistakes and flawed execution at the business end of the pitch characterised their performance. Both teams fielded strong line-ups but it was pretty grim viewing.

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Since Sunday’s poor show, the mood has considerably lifted at S6. In tying down Fernando Forestieri and Sam Hutchinson to new long-term contracts, Wednesday sent out a strong statement to the rest of the Championship that they still mean business and are capable of coming through the little sticky patch they currently find themselves in.

Both Forestieri and Hutchinson are heading into their peak years. As long as the duo are not dogged by disciplinary problems or injuries, you would like to think they will only get better.

Where Wednesday have also been decisive is in the transfer market. The Owls moved swiftly to bring in reinforcements, completing the signings of Callum McManaman and Morgan Fox less than a week after the January transfer market opened. There has been no hanging around, with Wednesday moving fast to increase competition where they looked light on numbers.

“We must put the correct pieces together to do a nice puzzle,” said Carvalhal recently.

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It is the perfect balance between attack and defence Carvalhal is seeking. He wants players who are dynamic on the ball but also individuals who can play within a certain structure.

He said: “Players who can do ruptures and players who can organise.”

Kieran Lee, the man tailor-made for Carvalhal’s style of his play, is likely to miss the rest of the season through injury, leaving Wednesday with a big void to fill in the middle of the park. Judging by how well the Owls have fared in Lee’s absence, it is easy to understand why Carvalhal is contemplating strengthening his midfield department. Barnsley’s Conor Hourihane is understood to be on their radar.

Carvalhal is keen to keep everyone on their toes and hopes a new striker will give them an extra dimension in the final third. His current crop of forwards have failed to deliver on a consistent basis, leaving Carvalhal with no choice but to look at other alternatives.

Sam Winnnall has had a phenomenal 18 months at Oakwell. Should the Owls finalise a deal for the attacker, it would be one less piece of the jigsaw puzzle that Carvalhal needs to find before January 31.

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