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Third time lucky? Interview
Thursday, 10th Aug 2017 16:52 by Clive Whittingham

After a second successive play-off failure for Sheffield Wednesday in May, LFW turned to our Hillsborough regular Jon Hore to see if this season will be third time lucky.

Missed out again last year, why did Wednesday come up short?

JH: You could say it’s because Huddersfield were better than us at penalties, but there was a nagging feeling all season that we were too negative and relied too much on not conceding. We went from a high tempo attacking side to one that was happy to sit deep, play narrow and try and nick a result. We struggled when the impetus was on us to break teams down and never really found a good balance between defence and attack. To be fair we dug out a lot of ugly wins (both QPR games being prime examples), and it’s hard to criticise a 4th place finish too much, but for large parts of the season we really lacked fluency and cohesion going forward. The playoff semi kind of summed up our season. Overly negative at their place, disjointed and outplayed for most of the game at Hillsborough but it still took a late equaliser and the lottery of a shootout to beat us. Close, but not close enough. It feels like a massive missed opportunity.

There was some suggestion Carvahal would be on his way, possibly to be replaced by Pardew, but then he signed a new contract, what’s the situation here?

JH: There was a weird situation at the end of last season where it came out his contract was up only a year after it was announced he’d signed a three year deal. Just one of a number of things where communication coming out of the club has been confused/non-existent. Carvalhal says he prefers to work without a contract as long as the ‘triangle’ of fans, players and chairman are happy with him, and I think he deserves a chance to try and improve again on last year. The start of the season is going to be crucial for him though, if we start poorly I think the patience of the fans will be wearing pretty thin and the chairman will have a big decision to make about whether he thinks CC is capable of taking us that extra step.

Ins and outs this summer? Any more to come or go? Happy with the window so far?

JH: It’s been a very quiet summer, especially compared to the previous two. To date we’ve only signed George Boyd, who I think will be a good signing, but haven’t addressed our main weaknesses which are the lack of a beast in midfield or the general problem of the squad being slower than erosion. We’re also desperate for a couple of centre backs but Carlos said last week he’s looked at over 200 this summer without finding the right fit which is a bit mental. We had a bid for Sean Morrison rejected by Cardiff and nearly signed Johan Djourou but he ended up following the cash to Turkey. It sounds like we’re really close to the line with regards FFP so that’s not helping, and we could really do with getting rid of a few before the end of the window.

Opening day defeat at Preston and a poor performance, just a one off at a bogey ground or is all not well?

JH: You can’t really judge anything on one game but it was an abysmal performance that showed the same problems from last year – low tempo and lacking in cohesion and attacking threat. I like Carvalhal, and he’s done a great job so far, but if we don’t adjust our tactics or shape to get the best out of the players we have I’m not massively positive about this season. There were better signs against the mighty Chesterfield last night so hopefully he’s seen the light. I think a version of a 3-5-2/3-4-3 would really suit our squad (once we have more centre backs) but we seem to be obsessed with 4-4-2 and I can’t see that changing now so it will be about finding the right balance between attack and defence in that system.

You’re certainly not short of strikers – Hooper on the bench, Winnall nowhere to be seen – but goals aren’t exactly flowing and Rhodes doesn’t seem to be hitting his stride for you, what’s going on?

JH: Rhodes hasn’t hit his stride but he’s a striker that needs service and crosses into the box and he’s just not had that since he signed. Spending £8m on a striker and not playing to his strengths seems a little bit daft to me, but it’s starting to look like we might have pissed £8m up the wall. Sam Winnall scored for fun in the 18 months before he signed for us but has barely had a look in. Having so many options also means that the front two has been rotated constantly and we’ve not had a settled partnership. Hooper and Fletcher both scored in the cup last night and I’d like to see them given a run of games together now. The horses for courses approach hasn’t worked.

Where’s the team particularly strong or weak?

JH: You’d have to say our strength was the quality and depth of our attacking options but as mentioned before we really haven’t been playing to this strength. Kieron Westwood is consistently great. I reckon the weakest area of the team is still the full backs because Daniel Pudil is getting on and past his best now, Morgan Fox seems like the next in a list of signings who we’ve decided isn’t good enough, and Jack Hunt is pretty inconsistent. Generally we’re solid all over the pitch but it’s only really Fernando Forestieri who has any x-factor.

Third time lucky this season?

JH: At the moment I’d have to say no, but ask me again if we win on Saturday and I’ll probably have changed my mind. Playoffs at best though, I can’t see us making a run at the top two.

The Twitter @loftforwords, @j_ho9

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simmo added 17:21 - Aug 10
Lovely comments from a lovely man. Cross-over to Rangers mate, you're already half way there....

TacticalR added 15:23 - Aug 11
Thanks to Jon.

Surprised to hear that Rhodes hasn't delivered - we know he can do it at Championship level. You dodged a bullet with Djourou, a hopeless graduate of the Wenger school of defending.

18StoneOfHoop added 03:58 - Aug 12
I agree from the little I see, guest pundit Mr Hore, that Fernando Forestrieri seems to be the only real creative X Factor game-changing Owl but on the other hand Barry Bannan always seems to play well v Rangers and Brentford and seems one of the most skillful midfielders in the division to me. What's his drawback? Chronic lack of pace?

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