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FA Carling Premiership, 6/11/99
Sheffield Wednesday
By Matt Rowson

Everything's rubbish.

Three weeks have passed since we lost 4-0 at Coventry. And it's only Tuesday. Football is everywhere, football is always everywhere... but right now that's not as completely great as it normally is. Right now there's not much to look forward to on Saturday.

I'm also playing the Cure's "Faith" album for the first time since I was single. This is a bad sign. As some Arsenal fan once astutely observed, either life is shit because football is shit, or the other way round. Or something. Anyway, everything's shit. Work is very very dull and it lasts forever. Meetings going on, and on, and on. Dull. Excruciating. Everything awful. And it's raining.

It's probably similar in Sheffield. It's cold there, too. United lurch pathetically towards the bottom of the First Division whilst pretending they have any hope of signing Georgi Kinkladze. Wednesday are bottom of the Premiership. Considerably bottom. And there's evidence that the Wednesday fans aren't taking the state of affairs any better than I am.

Blind, spitting, arbitrary fury in some cases. Targeted bile in others... glamourpuss chairman Dave Richards, the unfortunate Danny Wilson, and the encouragingly calamitous Pavel Srnicek all come in for their fair share. And delirium in some cases... "David Pleat was a better manager". Oh dear. "We need Gullit. Or Hoddle". Christ. Still, no mention of Chris Waddle yet. So there's hope.

Things aren't looking good for Sheffield Wednesday. An abominable start to the season, with a recent upturn in form (if not results) snuffed out by the twin blows of Benito Carbone's departure to Villa and a dreadful showing at Leicester at the weekend. With no money to spend, Wilson looks like being forced to sell with Andy Booth's transfer to Leicester, albeit reluctantly, still likely. The Owls have been linked to the likes of Colin Hendry, Phil Babb and Eidur Gudjohnsen, although how this tallies with being forced to sell Booth is anyone's guess.

Goalkeeper has been Pavel Srnicek, who has been decisively exposed in his handling of crosses in recent games. Tubby Kevin Pressman would be a popular replacement with the home fans.

At the back, Peter Atherton has been a solid defender for years, but his performances have been dodgy this season and his captainship called into question. Andy Hinchcliffe on the left hits a mean dead ball, but his stock plummeted with his involvement in England's shameful match in Bulgaria last season. Northern Ireland international Ian Nolan and home-grown Lee Briscoe, who can cross but not defend, are other options.

Brazilian Emerson Thome had a fine season last term, and is partnered by Des Walker, who has been playing forever and never changes.

In midfield, Petter Rudi is famously Wednesday's "new Chris Waddle", which is as much a reason to shout abuse as most of us should need. Wim Jonk is still a class act when he can be bothered, and is often at the heart of Wednesday's better performances. Niklas Alexandersson, a Swedish international, is a regular on the right and scored in the FA Cup tie at Vicarage Road two years ago. Finally Danny Sonner was a surprising signing from Ipswich Town, where he had failed to hold down a first team place, at the start of last season. Summer signing Simon Donnelly is another option, but his fellow Scot Phil O'Donnell and ex-Luton worm Scott Oakes are both injured.

Up front, without Carbone and presumably Booth, Wednesday are looking extremely restricted. Gilles de Bilde, who once did for Dennis Irwin in a Champions League game whilst at Feyenoord, has impressed without finding the net too regularly. Fellow summer arrival Gerald Sibon, a lanky 6'4", is described as "the biggest waste of space since Colin West". Otherwise England U21 striker Richard Cresswell may feature.

This is a monstrous game. They all are, of course, but to win this game for either side would be both a priceless three points, and a fillip that would be more valuable still. Wednesday in particular will be conscious that they follow this game with three away trips (West Ham, Liverpool and Villa), the home game postponed due to Man.United's nonsense in Brazil.

Legend has it that this is a Premiership team whose fans actually make some noise... presumably with the exception of the legendary fool who put 5 on the Hornets not winning a game all season and is now probably sitting glumly in a corner feeling rather stupid.

We have to bloody win on Saturday. If not, "Faith" could well be replaced by "Pornography" next week with catastrophic consequences. It's a long time since we had a losing run. It's a long time since I listened to "Pornography".

Some news arrives. Via the Watford Mailing List. Gifton Noel-Williams played twenty minutes for the reserves on Monday.

Outside, it's stopped raining.