Alan Biggs: The 'A' word - part of the reason behind Sheffield Wednesday's perilous position

Bravo for the Barnsley win and some survival hope rekindled, fair play. But it mustn’t be allowed to mask connected problems on and off the field.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 2:35 pm

Whatever the outcome, time has caught up with this Sheffield Wednesday squad. It will need time - and a plan rooted in proper football expertise - to sort.

The average age of the eleven that started the deeply depressing draw with Huddersfield at Hillsborough last midweek was ... 30. Well, 30 years and one month, to be exact.

A little below that at Oakwell after three changes.

Keiren Westwood, one of a large number of older players in the Sheffield Wednesday line-up, was injured in the warm-up again before Saturday's match against Barnsley

It’s not, for me, about attitude and ability. More about another “A” word. Athleticism.

In the modern game athleticism is king. Witness a Huddersfield side that monopolised the ball against a team that seemed to be breathing out of its backside.

We’re not talking quality here. Wednesday have more of that - a little more anyway - than sides customarily in their desperate position.

Keiren Westwood, one of a large number of older players in the Sheffield Wednesday squad, was injured in the warm-up again before Saturday's match against Barnsley

What they lack is the mobility and zest that most opponents seem to have more of when Wednesday face them.

Looking at the birth certificates, is it any wonder? This is what the lack of an intelligent football plan has delivered amid countless changes of manager that have predictably failed to cure the real problem.

Darren Moore needs to be able to get a grip of it this summer. The lack of turnover has led Wednesday to this point, dating all the way back to the play-off final defeat of 2016.

No fingers are pointed at individual players here. Some of the older ones are the proudest pros at Hillsborough, having given the club great service. It’s simply that there are just too many in one building.

Too many of Barry Bannan, Sam Hutchinson, Tom Lees, Keiren Westwood, Jordan Rhodes, Liam Palmer and Julian Borner, plus others in their later 20s.

No offence to any of the above, admiration for many and respect for all. The oldest, Westwood (36) is in a different category as a keeper, although another injury struck in the warm-up at Oakwell which forced a late change to the starting XI.

You can have a Westwood in goal, a Lees in centre defence and a Bannan in midfield but you need a younger team around them.

Hopefully the experienced players can drag Wednesday out of their current predicament.

But as a mix for the future, in whatever division, the current set-up simply cannot work. Football moves on. Wednesday haven’t. They have stagnated.

That is the sheer scale of the job facing Moore, who needs time and patience even to attempt it.

Keeping Bannan, at considerable expense, and losing Liam Shaw is a recent example of where priorities seem to have become skewed.

Fundamentally, there is - and has been for some time - only one obvious solution in my opinion and that of countless others. For owner Dejphon Chansiri to take a step back and install people with the experience and qualifications to make better decisions than he and his advisors do.