GIVEN the sharp decline of Sheffield Wednesday’s fortunes since the turn of the Millennium, it is understandable why Peter Shaw’s faith in his boyhood club has diminished.
Eleven years on from dropping out of the top flight, managers have frequently come and gone from Hillsborough while the club have also teetered with extinction.
But now, with owner Milan Mandaric and manager Gary Megson at the helm, there is new hope for Wednesday’s long-suffering fans.
Indeed, Shaw, a director of Owls’ supporters’ group Wednesdayite, is upbeat over the team’s chances of climbing out of the third tier of English football at the second time of asking.
His confidence has soared to such an extent that he is tipping his boyhood club to finish above bitter rivals Sheffield United in the table in the 2011/12 season.
“For the first time in a decade, I feel we have got the upperhand on them (United) on and off the pitch,” he told The Star. They have held the trump cards and had better finances and players than us.
“Relegation, though, means they are going to be going through some of the difficulties that we have had to endure. We have got every chance of finishing above them. I don’t want to crow because football has a habit of coming back and kicking you in the teeth but I feel confident we are going to do well.”
Wednesday face Rochdale at home in their opening league clash followed by back-to-back away trips at Bournemouth and Bury. Shaw is refusing to read too much attention into the fixtures, saying: “It is nice to be at home on the first day but it is only where you end up in May that matters.”
Shaw expects bookies favourites Huddersfield, who went 27 matches unbeaten before their play-off final defeat to Peterborough United last month, to be challenging for automatic promotion again. He also thinks Charlton and Bournemouth will be contenders.
n MK Dons are rumoured to be interested in signing Owls midfielder Darren Potter.