SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Championship administers a lethal dose

Consistent threat: Michail Antonio celebrates a goal
Consistent threat: Michail Antonio celebrates a goal

FOOTBALL can be a cut-throat business at the highest level.

They say it’s a game of opinions but it’s also a sport without emotion when it comes to ensuring your team comes out on top.

Players are, on the whole, nice blokes, but when it comes to doing their jobs they’re single-minded, ruthless and want to win at any cost.

And it gets more extreme the higher up the game you go.

It’s a lesson that Sheffield Wednesday are learning says winger Michail Antonio.

Signed from Premier League new boys Reading during the summer for a reported £750,000 the 22-year-old is under no illusions what the difference is between the Championship and League One.

He told The Star ahead of tomorrow’s match at fellow regation contenders Barnsley: “It’s lethal in this division.

“If you make a mistake you get punished in the Championship. It’s even more lethal in the Premier League. Basically the higher up you go the more lethal it becomes.

“In the Championship it’s more of a thinking game than in League One.

“You can’t just put it down the channels if you come under a bit of pressure now like we were able to last season.

“The other teams will punish you if you don’t take care of the ball. You can’t just give it away.

“It’s a massive step up.”

Antonio has played nearly every minute of every match, apart from the last 120 seconds of the Birmingham City game in August when he made way for Chris Maguire.

It is testament to not only his conditioning but also his consistent form that he has maintained his position as one of the first name’s on Dave Jones’ teamsheet.

His ever-present status also gives him an almost unique insight into what has gone wrong since those happy days in late summer.

He says, despite a run of form that has seen Wednesday pick up just eight points from a possible 54, confidence remains high in the dressing room.

“When we were doing well and then we lost that first match it didn’t knock our confidence. We’re still confident now,” he said.

“Things have gone against us. Take the Bristol City match. They scored two penalties and a free-kick right in the top corner. And then when we thought we’d equalised Miguel (Llera) is punished for appealing.

“All we can do is concentrate on playing our game and the results will come. At Cardiff we played well; at (Nottingham) Forest we had more chances than them and then we battered Bristol.

“We feel we are all good enough for this league but maybe things

haven’t gone our way like last season. We won at Brentford and were maybe a bit lucky and then scored a 95th-minute winner against Carlisle.”

Antonio was the hero against the Cumbrians. What Owls fans would give for more of the same against Barnsley.