Sheffield Wednesday: Owls show right spirit

Owls goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes has a word with his son Jordan after Rhodes junior played for Blackburn in their 3-2 defeat at Hillsborough
Owls goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes has a word with his son Jordan after Rhodes junior played for Blackburn in their 3-2 defeat at Hillsborough

IT LOOKS as if Owls fans have been spared the sort of agony they suffered in 1990, writes Paul Thompson.

They looked safe with six games left and Ron Akinson had assured shareholders at the annual general meeting: “We will not go down.”

But they lost five of those last six matches and were relegated after being beaten at home by Forest in the final game, while Luton pulled off a great escape.

Now, I think that safety is virtually certain and I cannot see a dramatic collapse to rival that of 23 years ago.

Don’t rule out a total of 53 points, their present tally, turning out to be enough.

Although estimates have ranged up to 56 points, I have thought for weeks that the necessary total may end up being lower than many people expected.

There is the capacity for some team or teams to suffer a collapse; teams in the wrong half of the table also have to play one another, in some instances, so not everyone can keep winning.

Obviously, the Owls do want to be cutting it fine - so expect them to play with their normal determination in an attempt to take as many points as possible from the remaining 15.

What a strange season it has been.

All things considered, a position of one point behind the top 10, with five games left, casts a respectable reflection on the club’s first season back in a demanding division.

Jones regards himself as a builder of clubs; he is certainly going to have to do some more building in the summer.

In the Blackburn and Millwall games, the starting line-ups showed only three players who are under contract for next season: Anthony Gardner, Chris Kirkland and Reda Johnson last Saturday; Gardner, Kirkland and Kieran Lee on Tuesday.

The other starters were either on loan or on deals that run out this summer.

I’m sure that the club will want to keep some, if not all, out of the out-of-contract men but loan successes do not necessarily become fully fledged Owls, for whatever reasons: look at Nile Ranger and Keith Treacy, for example.

One thing that Jones will want to sustain is the team spirit, which seems to be flowing strongly.

The buoyant mood at the club has been aided by results: a haul of 38 points from the last 20 games is just about promotion form and some going for an outfit who had two awful runs in the first half of the season, of five successive league defeats (plus a cup-tie) and seven successive league defeats.

The sooner the club have made certain of certain, the sooner they can tackle the issue of the players who will be out of contract this summer - and make plans about new signings.

If Blackburn go down (which I doubt) then maybe they will have to offload to a certain degree.

After their defeat at Hillsborough, Andy Rhodes put an arm around his lad’s shoulder and had a word in his ear, a word of consolation, judging by the expressions.

But perhaps Andy could also have a word and try to get Jordan interested in a move to Hillsborough!