Dom Howson column: Sam Hutchinson can add some much-needed steel to Sheffield Wednesday midfield
Believe it or not, there was a positive to come from the Owls' last outing.
For the first time in his pro career, Sam Hutchinson started and completed three matches in a week. It is testament to the work Hutchinson has put in behind the scenes to improve his fitness and the way the club have managed his workload that he came through unscathed against Norwich City, Burton Albion and Leeds United.
Shortly after the Owls reported back for pre-season training at the start of July, boss Carlos Carvalhal confirmed Hutchinson would play at centre-half this season. Carvalhal liked what he saw from Hutchinson when the former Chelsea youngster filled in there last time around and he had little other cover.
As he has demonstrated on countless occasions, Hutchinson is an intelligent footballer and equally adept at centre-back as he is in midfield.
If ever there was a match that was tailor-made for Hutchinson’s combative style, it was Leeds. He relishes a battle and nearly always makes his presence felt.
With Hutchinson having been switched to the back four, Owls do miss a destroyer. Someone who loves a tackle and can make interceptions. Someone who can disrupt the opposition’s flow. Someone who can give an extra layer of protection to the back four.
The combination of Barry Bannan and Kieran Lee acquitted themselves well versus two sides in Aston Villa and Norwich City who like to get the ball down and play. Against Burton and Leeds, Wednesday needed more soldiers than artists.
You could argue the Owls have too many ball players and not enough grafters. The blend in the centre doesn’t look quite right...and Carvalhal knows it.
Two ordinary teams beat them last week because they earned the right to play. Wednesday were outfought, lacked bite and looked lightweight. Carvalhal’s men came up short in a big way.
We can talk about personnel and tactics all day long but it’s the players who have to step up and deliver after two poor, disjointed displays.
All sides are, of course, entitled to an off day once in a while. One bad day at the office you can excuse but two in a row is concerning. Three defeats on the spin for a team who harbour promotion aspirations is just unthinkable.
Carvalhal has ruled out the possibility of Wednesday dipping into the summer transfer market before it closes next week to sign a ‘midfield enforcer’. (Not that there are many of those around or available anyway) It is another left-back and left winger who Carvalhal wants to add to his squad.
Soon Carvalhal will have to work with what he has got and find a solution to their midfield issues.
Could Hutchinson be the answer? He was for much of last year. Surely it is worth another shot?