Sixy Talk: Relishing Saturday

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Who can remember the fourth of August, eh? There was sun (probably, it was August), a scoring frenzy and Sheffield Wednesday. Things haven’t gone exactly to plan for Latics since that first day of the season and chances are that things will be totally different as Latics travel to Sheffield with the threat of snow and snores in the air.
What better antidote than us getting our finger out and doing some Sixy Talk?

Yeah, OK, but it’s all we’ve got and we wouldn’t have that if Andy McElwaine hadn’t knocked our door down and asked politely if we fancied revisiting the Q&A that we did with him back in summer.

Well, we did. So here goes…

Ey up. It’s not often we get a home and away leg on Sixy Talk (people stop taking our messages for some reason). It’s fair to say that both our seasons got off to an exciting start, ours has been a bit rocky since, how’s it been for you?

No worries. Happy to help. I haven’t blocked you yet, but if you do the double over us, I will consider it. Our season didn’t get off to the best of starts. You were there!

From an Owls point of view, it has been a bit of a waste of time, in fairness, as was most of 2019 from a football point of view. Some apathetic displays after a decent first few months of the season (which included wins at Reading, Bristol City and Aston Villa, coming back from 0-2 down at home to Stoke) left us languishing at the bottom reaches of the table.

But getting rid of our boss, having two caretakers, spectacular goals, hilarious defending, our new manager not on board officially until February and the chairman threatening to sell the club at a heated fans’ forum has made it probably the most ‘Sheffield Wednesday’ season ever. If it was a school report, so far, I’d be giving it a D and threatening the child with an expulsion notice unless they got better very quickly.

Still, you’re safely ensconced in midtable, no need to do anything rash, like getting rid of the manager or owt.

Jos Luhakay was a very strange one. Came in with the reputation of being a promotion specialist in Germany. During his reign of terror, we must have played a million formations. Fans were frustrated as he never got out of his seat during the game – just sitting there with his arms folded.

He blacklisted several experienced first team players, including Keiren Westwood, George Boyd and Sam Hutchinson who didn’t even make the squad until Jos, or as I called him, J-loss, was in charge.

His football was tedious and all about defence, which ironically for a defensive-minded coach, our defence through the first part of the season was abysmal at best. For me, the final straw was the Norwich game where they cruised to a 4-0 victory at Hillsborough and the subsequent game at United when we literally parked the bus to stop the rot and got out of our half about twice during the entire game.

But Steve Bruce will come next month and hopefully, fingers and toes crossed, he is the one to finally get us back to the top flight. The one good thing J-loss did was field a few youngsters. Cameron Dawson will be a good goalkeeper one day after a few iffy displays behind the chocolate fireguard which has been our back four or five, Matt Penney looks to be a player and so does Jordan Thorniley, and hopefully Bruce will reap those rewards.

Whilst we’re on that subject. What’s the best excuse you’ve ever used to get leave that your boss would rather not have given you? What do you reckon to Steve Bruce? You looking forward to him finally booking in?

Not going to lie, I have used the odd ‘dentist appointment’ to get to the pub early before many a Wednesday game in the past. Alcohol is pretty much needed when watching them. Copious amounts of it. The earlier you start the better. I am on Dry January and had some alcohol-free beer on Tuesday night at Luton. It tasted how I imagine drinking milk which was three weeks out of date through a well-used hiker’s sock would.

Bruce knows us as a club and has been intrinsically linked with us during many of our highs and lows after the years. For example, he was in the Manchester United team who lost to us 1-0 in the 1991 League Cup final. He scored two late, late, late goals at Old Trafford which was the first iteration of ‘Fergie Time’. He was present as Wednesday beat Hartlepool 4-2 at Cardiff to get promotion in 2005 as an emotional onlooker watching his lad (current Latic) Alex play for us, and of course he was manager of the Hull City Thundercat Tiger Warriors or whatever they are called these days as they beat us at Wembley a few years back.

That day in particular, our fans made a lasting impression on him.

He’s obviously never been at Hillsborough when things have not been going our way… Think it’s a good appointment though. He knows the league well, has a great record of success and although it may not be pretty, knows how to get teams winning. Some fans have raised questions due to his links to the porcine side of the city, but that was a long, long time ago.

So, go on, you’re in front of the dragon’s den panel and you have to pitch them this game. They’re worried it’s a bit of a nothing mid-table clash, how do you get them to buy a ticket?

I am struggling to find a reason to entice anyone. Both teams not exactly pulling up trees, are they? But you can say if you don’t buy a ticket then you will probably end up in the supermarket which is A, excruciatingly boring and B, a high probability that going to the game will probably cost you a lot less depending on your weekly shop, even with Wednesday’s eye watering prices. Most neutrals would avoid this game even if it was played in their back yard. Come to Sheffield, go to the pub.

And how do you reckon it’s going to go. I bet you’re crapping it about our attacking verve, eh? Who do we need to watch out for in your side?
I think we will win, albeit very narrowly. Since J-Loss got the first flight back to Holland, we had a decent spell at Christmas with wins at Middlesbrough, at home to Preston and a draw at West Brom which we should have won if not for a 95th minute equaliser. Although our game at the KCOM recently was pathetic and if you hadn’t been around for a few weeks, you’d still think Luhukay was in charge. But with Bruce’s staff already in place, players will be very keen on impressing them so they put a good word in, or to put their faces in the window for a transfer. Adam Reach on his day can hit some spectacular goals and drive the team forward, and Barry Bannan can pick out a pass – whether that’s a little dink behind the defence or a 60-yard Hollywood ball. Adthe Nuhiu on his day can be excellent, however, he’s had a very up and mainly down season but will be confident after scoring the winner at Luton on Tuesday. You could see anything from Zlatan one minute to a park player the next with big Atty. Or Dave as he’s called by the Wednesday faithful.

The “not talking about pies” experiment didn’t go too well, so, seeing as you’re on your own turf this time, where can people get a decent pre-match pie, what flavour do you recommend and is there anywhere where they can get a nice DIPA to go with it?

Pies at Wigan are famous. Pies in Sheffield don’t have the same clamour about them. However, if you do find a good one, make sure you put plenty of Henderson’s Relish on it. It’s a Sheffield staple, and really does the job. Pies aren’t my chosen specialised subject.

So, if you want a good pint and like craft beer, head down to Kelham Island (Shalesmoor tram stop) and The Shakespeare, The Fat Cat, The Kelham Island Tavern, Craft & Dough are some of the best pubs around. Then you can just jump back on the tram to get to the game. If you want somewhere closer to the station, The Rutland Arms is brilliant, as is The Sheffield Tap outside the station – although you oddly pay London prices there.

Wouldn’t wear colours though. Hope you enjoy your day out, go home with your tail between your legs but return for more fun and games next season.

Thanks again for that Andy, remind me to ask you about electro pop, Arctic Monkeys and brutalist architecture next season (how’s that for rampant optimism folks). In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the season and let’s hope Mr Bruce sticks it out with you (at least it keeps the rumours of a return to Latics at bay).

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