MY Auntie Mary called the other night to ask if I was still covering Wednesday, because she hadn’t seen my name in the paper for a week or so.
But I was only on holiday. I know it’s a bit of a bugbear having to go away but when you have an annual entitlement you have to fit the weeks in somehow, don’t you? And they can’t all be taken in summer.
The booking was also made before the fixtures came out, so I didn’t deliberately avoid trips to Stevenage and Yeovil, as well as the home game against MK Dons.
I’ve seen it all in my 31 years of covering the Owls so while a 5-1 defeat at Stevenage was a surprise after a good home win it wasn’t a sensation, and the required response was produced last Saturday.
One thing that strikes me is how this season has been the opposite of what was expected, in some ways.
The summer signings of Julian Bennett, Rob Jones and Danny Batth at the back, and Jose Semedo and David Prutton in midfield, plus the team’s performances in pre-season friendlies, suggested that the Owls would be a pretty solid unit.
It was up front where they were short, so it appeared that goalscoring could be a problem.
As it’s turned out, the team have conceded more goals in the first nine League games of this season than they let in during the last nine games of last season.
Their goals-against tally of 16 is the fifth worst in the division.
But their goals-for column of 16 is the joint fourth best, though new signings Chris O’Grady and Ryan Lowe have been on the treatment table. It’s all fairly strange and I’m not claiming that there are simple answers to questions about why the season has been topsy-turvy or why performances have been up and down.
One element, the new prowess in goalscoring, is slightly easier to explain: Gary Madine has come good with his form and his finishing and is showing why the club paid £400,000 for him in January.
Seven goals in his last six league games is some going.
Whereas, at the start the season, it looked as if Madine would be one of those to lose his place if and when new strikers arrived, it’s currently more a case of who plays alongside him.
It will be fascinating to see what happens when Ryan Lowe and Chris O’Grady are fully up and running.
You will have read on the back page that O’Grady is desperate to play already. Lowe, too, is available after injury.
But I’ll be amazed if either starts tomorrow, for Madine must do, and David McGoldrick scored on his debut last week, so looks certain to play if he has recovered from a back knock.
Reda Johnson will surely start if Rob Jones is ruled out by his nose fracture, and, with David Prutton sidelined by a thigh injury, Chris Lines joins James O’Connor as a centre-midfield contender.
Jermaine Johnson’s continued ban may mean a return on the right for Liam Palmer.
Chris Evans has done a good job in picking out some positives, on this page. I fancy the Owls to produce another one tomorrow.