Sheffield Wednesday: Winning pitch battle was key to Hillsborough revival says Owls skipper

Extensive work was carried out on the Hillsborough pitch in the summer

Extensive work was carried out on the Hillsborough pitch in the summer

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When quizzed on why the Owls’ fortunes have so vastly improved at Hillsborough this season, Glenn Loovens’ answer was swift, measured and straight to the point.

“The only big difference from last season is the pitch,” the Dutchman told The Star. “It was dreadful last year.

“We wanted to play football in the right way but it wasn’t possible on that pitch. It was a big factor and was impacting on the players as we picked up injuries.”

Shortly after completing his takeover last March, chairman Dejphon Chansiri pledged to spend £1m on a brand new playing surface as Wednesday struggled to score goals and win matches in their own backyard.

After months of hard work over the summer, Wednesday now have one of the finest surfaces in the country.

Carlos Carvalhal’s men are playing an entertaining brand of football and have turned Hillsborough into an intimidating place to visit again, losing just one of their 11 matches during the 2015/16 campaign.

Loovens admitted: “It takes 50 per cent of your motivation away if you are stuck in the mud with your ankles.

“Every player wants to play on a good pitch so it was a necessity to do something about it which the owner did so credit to the people who worked hard on it. He [Chansiri] spent a lot of money and the pitch is amazing which helps.

“Now we go into home games with pleasure and a smile on our faces. Results are going well and hopefully we can keep our home run going and give the fans something to cheer about.”

Owls resume their Championship campaign today against a Huddersfield Town side under new management. David Wagner takes charge of his first match as head coach, having replaced Chris Powell.

“It is always interesting to see how the new players are going to react to a new coach,” said Loovens. “Sometimes it works, sometimes not so good.

“We had the whole of pre-season to adapt. For us, the league started a bit too early.

“Everyone has gelled together well so far and we just want to keep going and hopefully it leads to something nice.”

The Owls skipper is backing his teammates to respond in a positive fashion following their below-par showing at Charlton Athletic a fortnight ago.

“We have played a lot of games in the last two months so the international break came at the right time,” said Loovens, who has recovered from a hamstring injury. “We weren’t really fresh or ourselves in the Charlton game.

“This game is really important to get the next run going. We are fresh now and everybody is ready to go.”

Loovens hopes to play in the Premier League in the future but has warned Wednesday to stay grounded despite their impressive form over the last two months.

He said: “Every player wants to play at the highest level and I’m no different. I think there is nothing better than the Premier League.

“But we have still got a long way to go. It is nice to be thinking about it and should give us extra motivation. We have to take it one step at a time and not think too far ahead.”

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