What a difference a year makes

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Compare Sheffield Wednesday’s playing position of 12 months ago with their fortunes today and you could be forgiven for thinking - falsely - that not much has changed.

Then, as now, they were challenging for promotion; not as strongly perhaps but with great optimism for the second half of the season after Milan Mandaric’s club rescue.

What happened next will occupy the mind of the Owls’ owner as Wednesday head into another fateful transfer window.

How could it go so wrong when hopes were so high and so much money - around £1.5m - was invested in a swift return to the Championship?

Ironically, the big question being asked exactly a year later is the absolute opposite. Will the Owls spend enough in January? Will they secure some vital loan players and add to the strength of Gary Megson’s squad?

Further, did the failure of that signing spree spell out some costly realities for Mandaric? He shelled out £12m for the club and has done little to dispel talk that he could bow out soon with Wednesday, thanks to his opportunism, now highly attractive to investors.

It’s all in marked contrast to January, 2011 when, fuelled by the new chairman’s characteristic impatience and an understandable desire to make an impact, Wednesday splashed the cash on five players.

Whether they were all of then manager Alan Irvine’s choosing has been a debating point for fans. Where there is little doubt is that Irvine wanted only a couple of additions, not wishing to rock a largely settled side.

That, of course, is precisely what happened. Irvine’s fears were quickly realised and Megson had to pick up the pieces, while suffering more fall-out in his summer budget.

It’s probably fair to say that supporters expected more overt ambition in Mandaric’s first year. Then again, the club and fans will always be grateful to him and are in his debt. He has performed the footballing equivalent of raising the Titanic.

And if, having had his fingers burned at the outset, he doesn’t want to point Wednesday back down the road to ruin - or jeopardise the value of his investment - then who can blame him?

So the future is largely dependent on a close-knit team and Megson’s skill as a manager; his resourcefulness and his sheer willpower where the name of Sheffield Wednesday is concerned, which Mandaric also finds infectious having wisely pinpointed the right man for the job.

Megson has operated with a drive that has coaxed the maximum available support from above and created a tigerish team in his own image. More of both are required at this pivotal point of the season.

Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanBiggs1