The 2021/22 season didn’t quite go Sheffield Wednesday’s way as a playoff semi-final defeat to Sunderland condemned the Owls to another year of third-tier football.
Every football fan knows that a team of Wednesday’s stature shouldn’t be playing at this level, and it’s very easy to get bogged down in misery at the prospect of spending a number of years at this level.
As Sheffield Wednesday’s biggest rivals, Sheffield United, know all too well, it’s very easy for a rot to set in in League One, and, understandably, there are fears that Wednesday could stagnate at this level.
However, at the same time, there’s reason to believe that the Steel City outfit could rise from the ashes in 2022/23 and earn promotion at the second time of asking, and we’re going to look at three reasons why Wednesdayites should be optimistic heading into next term.
Hitting their stride
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Sheffield Wednesday had a rollercoaster campaign this time around, but towards the end, it felt as though things were finally clicking under Darren Moore.
Wednesday were actually the best team in the league over the final games of the season, picking up more points than any other side in the final 16 games, losing just three times in the process.
Factor in that their star players, Lee Gregory and Barry Bannan won the last two Player of the Month awards, and you have a team that seem to have finally gotten their ship in order.
If Wednesday can carry this sort of momentum and mentality into next season, they could get off to a brilliant start.
We don’t know who will win the League One Playoffs this season, but it’s fair to say that next season’s field may be considerably weaker than this one.
Wigan and Rotherham are two clubs set for a run at the Championship, and it would’ve been a struggle for Wednesday to get anywhere near them this season.
Meanwhile, there’s a good chance that Sunderland go up this term, which would eliminate another massive team at this level.
Of course, if Sunderland do go up, that leaves the prevailing threat of Wycombe Wanderers, but with Gareth Ainsworth constantly linked with a move away, the Chairboys could be a different force entirely next term.
Meanwhile, the teams coming down could realistically struggle. After a strong 2020/21, Barnsley’s squad is sure to be pulled apart, while their next managerial appointment could go one way or the other as the Tykes have shown in recent years.
Derby’s takeover isn’t sorted yet, so another year of EFL sanctions could await the Rams, while their squad, much like Barnsley’s will be picked apart.
Peterborough should be well-equipped when they come down, but after losing Siriki Dembele and potentially losing Jonson Clarke-Harris this summer, they won’t be the same force League One saw in 2020/21.
Factor in that MK Dons are also likely to lose their star man Scott Twine and it’s fair to say that the top spots in this division are there for the taking.
For years now, Sheffield Wednesday have been operating under EFL restrictions and the threat of further sanctions.
This term, it’s been widely reported that Wednesday are under a ‘soft transfer embargo’ while the suspended points penalty has also lingered over Hillsborough like a dark cloud.
However, it’s understood that those sanctions will be removed this summer, allowing Wednesday more room to breathe in the transfer market.
Of course, there are still problems with the ownership and unresolved issues, but the removal of the EFL’s shackles should allow Wednesday to assemble a squad that is once again ready to compete for promotion this season.