Alan Biggs: Is Fernando Forestieri up to challenge of being top dog at Sheffield Wednesday?
It might seem an incidental question after the jolt of a rare home defeat in midweek. But the lack of a definitive answer could end up being a stimulus to at least one key individual and, more importantly, the team in the quest for promotion.
Just who is the star man at Sheffield Wednesday? Is it (or about to be) Jordan Rhodes? Is it (can it be again) Fernando Forestieri?
Or is it, as Carlos Carvalhal would prefer, a team of many talents fusing together on teamwork as they look to atone for their shock loss to Brentford in Saturday’s Yorkshire derby at Leeds? That’s the healthiest scenario and you can’t put a price on the fragile but highly gifted Forestieri rejoining the party with fine goals in successive matches to reach double figures for the season. You sense Fernando’s taken on the challenge of reclaiming his status, which can only be good.
Rhodes and his value to the team is a work in progress. You can measure the best predators almost as much on the chances they miss as the goals they score. From what I saw in his first three games Rhodes barely had a chance to miss. He will do when they come in greater supply, as they reportedly did on Tuesday. But it’s the ratio of conversion that can put Wednesday in profit on their record investment.
By my reckoning, the £8m man’s first three games yielded only one clear chance and it was one he helped create himself with a well-timed run and leap
on to Ross Wallace’s corner against Birmingham. One chance, one goal, 100 per cent.
Strange to say but the Owls need to get that figure down to around 50 per cent for Rhodes to be truly effective – and that means giving him more ammunition, much as his presence drags defenders away from fellow forwards. In other words, the chances to miss - as all the most prolific scorers actually do.
The logic on that comes here from a goalkeeper, often the best placed to assess forwards given their hatred of being beaten.
Former Owls keeper Richard O’Donnell, now with Rotherham but still a fan of his boyhood favourites, rates Rhodes “a fantastic signing with a phenomenal record.”
The reasoning: “He’s not renowned for hold-up play or being good in the air. But if he gets a sniff at goal he’s going to take his chance more than likely. He’ll miss a chance but give him another one and he’ll probably stick it away. He doesn’t have negative thoughts.”
Wednesday are accused of harbouring a little negativity in their build-up play, settling for a pass square or backwards rather than playing with a higher tempo to hit the front men earlier.
You’d imagine Carvalhal and his management team are looking to redress this, knowing the rewards are almost guaranteed if they do.
But it’ll prove a pimple of a problem if the side can climb back onto a mountainous run of results. And still yet to peak.