Newcastle, Aston Villa, Norwich, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers. Five clubs either newly, or still, floated by plump Premier League parachute payments. Five reasons why this column thinks we should re-evaluate what can realistically be demanded of Sheffield Wednesday this season.
And here’s three more. Derby, Brighton and Ipswich, all expected to mount serious promotion challenges after knocking on the door.
And that’s without mentioning a good start from Wolves and the ambitions of another heavyweight pair in Nottingham Forest and Birmingham. Or the likelihood of surprise packages, currently taking the form of Huddersfield Town and Barnsley.
This is not intended to be an apology or excuse, more a reflection of reality. Top six? By my maths – on the sheer number of well-financed challengers – it could be more a case of challenging to be in the top six than taking that as a minimum. And I say that regardless of the outcome of rumours on Jordan Rhodes and others as I write this ahead of last night’s deadline.
Such a mindset might also help rather than hinder the Owls after expectations were raised by last season’s run to the play-off final. Great day out or not, missing that big one-off opportunity to beat the owner’s promotion timetable could prove more of a setback than it seemed at the time.
All of which is about trying to understand the difficulty of what Wednesday, under Dejphon Chansiri, are trying so hard to achieve.
Now this is a chairman not beyond criticism. I have to say I’m with those supporters still at odds with his pricing policy, also the value placed on hospitality boxes and, for what it’s worth, I’m not a fan of the new shirt.
But the bottom line is that he’s having a real go - many millions spent on fees and a wage ceiling raised well beyond £30,000 per week and, you’d imagine, still with some climbing to do. Yet you still have Villa - £15m buyers of Bristol City’s Jonathan Kodijia – and Newcastle spending hugely more.
Which brings us to Financial Fair Play and Chansiri being at pains to keep the club within it.
Quite rightly following the self-inflicted hardships that made the intervention of a wealthy individual like himself a virtual necessity if Wednesday were to become Premier League again.
Granted, FFP is a convenient shield at some clubs. Its complexities make it difficult to contest why certain players can’t be signed. But I think we have to go on trust at Hillsborough that Chansiri is spending near enough the maximum possible to try to deliver his two-season pledge of top flight football by 2017.
It follows that he deserves a little latitude and patience if that target proves beyond the current squad. That’s not to say Wednesday can’t do it this season or be competitive at the very least.
It’s just that, in this writer’s view, to finish in the top six this time will be even more of an achievement than last.