Alan Biggs’ Sheffield Wednesday column: Whatever happens, Steve Bruce’s impact has been a resounding success
As much as it’s possible to feel sorry for a manager unbeaten in his first ten matches, I do have a twinge of sympathy for Steve Bruce.
Can you start too well in a job? Well, certainly not if Sheffield Wednesday complete their charge for the play-offs and maybe even go all the way to the Premier League. But what if they “fail?” I use that word in quotation marks because, almost whatever happens now, Bruce’s impact has been a resounding success and far from a failure. As he says: “Three months ago people were looking at the other end ... let’s secure our Championship status.” And yet, after as big a turnaround to a season as it’s possible to see, it would be pure human nature if disappointment crept into the emotional cartwheel at some point. That’s not thinking negatively because Wednesday are really going for it and have given themselves more than the “squeak” the manager keeps referring to. Much as some of the fixtures would look daunting at any time (Leeds and Norwich away especially), the fact is you’d give the Owls a chance against anybody right now. Form at the right time counts for a lot. The big players are performing, the Owls always look like scoring and (mostly) do not look like conceding. Keeping those big players fit and firing, and getting others to that point, is going to be crucial ... the likes of Steven Fletcher, Sam Hutchinson, Fernando Forestieri and maybe Gary Hooper. “It’s the only thing freaking me out,” says Bruce, wrestling with the problem of repeated injuries to major players. I’d add Achraf Lazaar to that list, such was the early excellence of the pacy left back - up until his untimely hamstring injury. Lazaar, fellow Newcastle loanee Rolando Aarons and permanent signing Dominic Iorfa immediately added zest and athleticism to a previously sluggish outfit. Wednesday are much more dangerous with a threat down either flank - not to mention the bonus of right back Iorfa’s three goals. All nicely balanced by the brilliant work of Liam Palmer in either full-back position. You also have to say Bruce’s triple transfer swoop was a master stroke, exactly what was needed. It has helped to make fools of us in the way the season could now pan out, much as it’s still an outside chance. “You’re always hoping to make an impact ... I didn’t think it would happen like this!” Bruce admits. Momentum like this, at a club of this size, takes some stopping. Equally, let’s keep in mind that Wednesday could be left to take stock of what’s needed for the future. That was certainly Bruce’s expectation when he arrived. Whatever transpires, let no-one make him a victim of his early success. Because, however long it takes, this bloke knows what he’s doing and how to achieve it.