What a refreshing change it makes to hear members of Wednesday’s squad talking up their prospects of competing for a play-off place.
Lewis Buxton and Joe Mattock could have dodged the question and stuck to the party line of it’s very early in the season and we are just going to take it one match at a time and we will see what happens. But confidence and self-belief is growing in the dressing room, prompting the two defenders to suggest a promotion charge is not beyond them.
It is in complete contrast to the last two years when Wednesday have flirted with the bottom three after sluggish starts. This time around, I don’t think there has been a single mention of the dreaded ‘R’ word.
It will be tough for Wednesday to qualify for the play-offs. In seven of the past 10 seasons, clubs have required a points total of 72 points or more to secure a top-six finish, with no club having ever finished in the play-off positions without acquiring a minimum of 68 points. You would think Stuart Gray’s side will have to go on a long unbeaten run to have an outside chance to be in the mix.
The difficulty for Gray is he is not carrying one of the biggest squads in the division. He can ill-afford to be without first-team players Tom Lees, Sam Hutchinson and Kieran Lee for lengthy periods of time. Suspensions will gradually kick in too over the coming months, with Mattock and Chris Maguire only a booking away each from triggering automatic one-match bans.
There were some murmerings of discontent from the terraces after Wednesday’s midweek draw with Ipswich Town. Some Owls fans questioned why Gray moved Stevie May out wide in the second half. Some Owls fans questioned why Chris Maguire, Wednesday’s main attacking threat, was taken off with the match finely balanced.
Perhaps Gray made one or two incorrect calls but he has got a heck of a lot more decisions right than wrong throughout his Hillsborough tenure. People should not forget Wednesday are TEN points better off than they were at this stage last season.
So the next time an Owls supporter vents their frustration at the team or coaching staff when a result is not going their way, just ask yourself one simple question. Would you swap Wednesday’s stability for the Leeds United soap opera? Thought not.