Under Carlos Carvalhal’s fantastic leadership, the club can go one better than the playoff final last year… starting with the tricky Huddersfield trip
IT has been over 6200 days since since Sheffield Wednesday were last able to call themselves a Premier League club.
Right now though, there’s a feeling that that clock could be reset.
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When the Owls take on Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield on Sunday afternoon, it will be exactly 17 years to the day since their last appearance in the top-flight, a 4-0 win over Leicester City.
Under Carlos Carvalhal’s mentorship, Wednesday have finished 24th in the country this season.
That is their highest placing in the English league system since that 19th-place finish in the 1999/2000 campaign that began their demise.
The sizeable Wednesday faithful are rightly excited at the possibility of taking a step back up into the big leagues.
But at the same time we are understandably cautious given the heartbreak of their trip to Wembley around this time last year when we lost to Hull.
Despite finishing higher (4th/6th) and picking up more points (81/74) than last year, there was a swelling air of pessimism in the Hillsborough stands at one stage when results weren’t coming.
It was an air that got so bad that Carvalhal actively addressed it in the media.
Fast-forward a few weeks and the boys are the in-form team in the league, and arguably only lost their final game because the bulk of the side that will do battle in the playoffs were rested.
Wednesdayites have suffered enough over the years to know that nothing is a foregone conclusion.
And some of those heading to Huddersfield this season will have been present when the mighty Exeter City smashed five past Nicky Weaver in League One not so long ago.
They will be buoyed by the fact that they’ve won their last four games against Terriers – including two this season – but as we all know, form and history mean absolutely nothing at this stage of the season.
It’s anybody’s game and David Wagner’s side have shown enough quality to suggest that they are just as likely to pull off a win.
Aside from their end of season blip, Huddersfield have been an enjoyable team to watch that – similarly to the Owls last season – have had the element of surprise on their side.
An injury to Gary Hooper – a catalyst for their end of season form – does come as a blow to Wednesday, but with one of the most expensive strike forces in the league, Carvalhal won’t be short of options.
With English Football League attendances at their highest in nearly 60 years, it will be all eyes on the playoffs as four clubs do battle for a spot in the “richest game in football” – worth around £170m to the winner.
The last team to play back-to-back Championship Playoff finals was West Ham United in 2004 and 2005, and they won the second one. Can Wednesday do the same?
One thing is for sure, just like last season’s home leg against Brighton & Hove Albion, Hillsborough will be packed out next Wednesday – and winning on their own day would be a welcome coincidence for he club and its supporters.
For many, this is the best Sheffield Wednesday squad that they have ever seen, and with more experience and a better ability to grind out results than last season.
A whole generation of Owls will be hoping that now they’ll get to see the Promised Land for the very first time.
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