Sheffield Wednesday’s players are being told not to “shy away” from the pressure of representing a big name club.
Much of the momentum created by a 100% home start was crushed by the 5-1 midweek mauling at Stevenage that has put a huge emphasis on Saturday’s trip to Yeovil.
Wednesday’s management are under no illusions that the team’s woeful form on the road, where they have collected a solitary point, must quickly bear some comparison with the fighting unit on display at home.
They insist it is moral courage that has transformed Hillsborough into a football fortress and the same quality is needed on their travels.
Gary Megson and his assistant Chris Evans are pointing to a change of mentality as the key to powering the demanded promotion push.
For all the nagging questions about overall quality, Megson had seemed to forge a formidable group ethic up to the Stevenage debacle.
And whereas home advantage has consistently appeared to be a handicap in the past, a 100% record at Hillsborough is now the bedrock of the side’s ambitions.
From day one, Megson rubbished the hoodoo theorists and poured scorn on any attempt by players to hide behind it.
Now Evans, his number two, casts light on how the negative has become a positive - and how it must be made to count across the board. He said: “At a club like this there is a huge expectancy - and we want that pressure.
“You can either shy away from it or embrace it, which is what we are now doing at home. And we also think we are a decent side.”
Indeed, a sense of self-belief can help to restore the equilibrium as Megson - contrary to his long-ball reputation - urges more composure in possession rather than the hoof-it tendency that has tended to betray his true intentions. That, in turn, requires mental bravery.
Evans believes they are halfway there despite Tuesday’s upset. “We want Hillsborough to be a place that psychologically affects our opponents and where they know they are in for one hell of a game,” he said.
“We certainly don’t want it to be a Wembley-type outing for them.”
While home form is the basis of Megson’s blueprint for automatic promotion, it can’t go unsupported.
“We know what we need to do,” Evans declared. “For that, you need to average 1.9 points per game. And you need to score in excess of 90 goals.”
Currently Wednesday have 13 from eight and are nearly five adrift of the points target with Megson admitting his “worst feeling as a manager” after Tuesday’s debacle.
There is a conviction that Chris O’Grady can eventually accelerate things as a foil for top scorer Gary Madine - with Ryan Lowe also in the mix.
0“Gary has taken responsibility for playing up top almost alone at times,” said Evans. “Having Chris alongside
Continues on Page 51