Sheffield Wednesday column: I’d tell you why I love Owls ace Barry Bannan, but I just don’t think you understand

Barry Bannan celebrates his goal against Millwall
Barry Bannan celebrates his goal against Millwall

The two sides of Barry Bannan have been on show in the last four days, and I love them both.

Bannan is a winner, a midfield man who isn't happy when things are going against him and his side.

On Sunday, in a dismal 2-0 loss at Brentford where he was Sheffield Wednesday's best outfield player, his frustration bubbled and he took teammates to task out on the pitch as they slid to defeat. Against Millwall on Wednesday at Hillsborough, he was the one pumping his fist before kick-off and demanding everything from those around him.

Then, against the Lions, came one of the best individual performances Hillsborough will witness this season, an all-action display full of effort and guile, capped by a wonder-goal and a superb assist which contributed hugely to Wednesday's first league victory of the season.

Not just a winner, a player as well.

Delighted fans sang his song after he had left Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer clutching thin air as he scored with a sumptuous 16th-minute volley from just outside the penalty area.

How good is the Scottish international? Unless you're watching him regularly, I just don't think you understand.

Bannan's quality has stood out in the 100-plus matches he has played since he signed from Crystal Palace three years ago and he has shone this season during a difficult start to the campaign.

The Owls must be delighted that the 28-year-old has talked of ending his career with the club.

The player's strike against the Lions turned the match in Wednesday's favour. Manager Jos Luhukay is not a man given to lavish praise but even he admitted at his after-match press conference that he was heading home to watch it again on the television highlights.

Bannan made a rare mistake in the 38th minute, uncharacteristically giving away possession. Within seconds, he'd won it back. 

He controlled the ball at one stage with his nose, he ran and a passed Millwall to distraction, he performed a series of 'ole' step-overs, he dug in when he had to.

It's like this in a lot of games. The man with a Premier League pedigree doesn't so much run, he scampers, skips, skids and scuttles. He's here, there, everywhere, and everything is done with a degree of sharpness, a lightness of touch and control as deft as any in the Championship.

Even his socks can't keep up with him, trailing halfway down his calves as he goes about his business: the main man with the appearance of a playground kid.

"Barry was very good," said Luhukay, as close as he comes to gushing. "For me, he was one of the best players on the pitch."

Close but not close enough. Bannan was the best player on the pitch, setting the tone and the perfect example for Wednesday youngsters like Jordan Thorniley, Matt Penny and Fraser Preston.

Don Revie once famously said of the old Leeds United great, Eddie Gray, that if he played on snow he would leave no footprints. Bannan is a bit like that.

His song, sung to the tune of Achy Breaky Heart, compares him to another legend of the sport.

He might not be quite that good. But the Owls are lucky to count A Wee Scottish Man, he's Better than Zidane, among their ranks.

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